Stories for Christmas

In my little corner of the universe, almost everybody gets a book for Christmas. The following are some of my favorites, all but mine published more than ten years ago.

Barbara Stoner. Yes. I'm suggesting my very own, because I think it's actually a very good first novel. Luckily, most of my readers think so too.

. Morgan Llywelyn has written an entire pantheon of Irish myth and history. This book imagines the voyage of the Celts from the Iberian peninsula and the history of the mythic Irish bard Amergin.

. It's because of this book that Charles de Lint is sometimes credited with inventing urban fantasy. What he does best, in his subsequent fiction, is depict young people in perilous situations all too common today, situations involving drugs, abuse, and homelessness, and give them a magical way to look at the world, a reality-based magic, a magic they can use.

. Toni Morrison's first novel put me in the shoes of someone I could never be and showed me a view of the world I had never imagined.

. Thomas B. Costain's novelistic chops serve him well in these histories first published more than 50 years ago. They were favorites of mine at the time, and if I were going to a desert island, I just might bring along the entire series.

. Barbara Tuchman's unequalled history of the lead up to the First World War has lessons about the perils of preparedness, political rigidity, and spark points that say more, to my mind, about the state of the world today than do any of our subsequent conflagrations.

. James D. Watson's account of the discovery of the structure of DNA remains a classic, not the least because he and his colleagues decide, over beers in a pub, that the structure for which they are seeking will be beautiful. That it will have harmony, coherence, grace.