Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan

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 There's nothing I like better than to recommend books to people. It's no surprise, then, that this novel gave me all the feels and a lot of sighing over my "if I could do it all over again" wish to own a bookstore in a small town. 

Nora and Simon operate a small bookstore in the village of Stowford, England. Nora inherited the shop from her mother, and they've been a cornerstone of the village for thirty years. 

Unfortunately, unpaid taxes and a slowdown in sales has meant Nora is keeping some important news from Simon: they are in danger of losing the shop if payments aren't brought up to date by the end of the year. 

Simon is oblivious to the financial pickle they're in because Nora is worried about his heart (he had a minor heart episode previously) and won't let him help much in the shop. 

An elderly man stops in and purchases a special book--it's the one book that has gone unsold in the shop for thirty years. He's buying it for his grandson, who has a school project due and is ill. 

This, along with a late night bottle of wine, gives Nora and Simon the idea to give six books to random people who have been nominated by others in the village. It's a way to spread the happiness that books can bring and hopefully drive more business to the shop, too. 

Nora picks out the books and delivers them to each recipient. All the books are wrapped and the same size, so she doesn't know who gets what book. However, book magic happens, and each person who receives a book gets exactly the book they need at that time. From a young actor struggling to get a break, to a single father who's lost his job and worries about presents for his twins, to a retired school teacher who feels lost and alone, each person discovers something important in the book they receive. For all of them, the books are life-changing in small yet significant ways. 

As Christmas approaches, Nora stresses about losing the shop and how to tell Simon. Will she finally come clean to Simon? Can they save the shop or will they be forced to sell it? 

I absolutely loved loved loved this novel. Gentle, warm, full of books; a village full of interesting characters, and holiday cheer. People looking out for people. The magic of books and the way they bring people together. Heck, there's even a snow storm on Christmas Eve. Some folks who receive the books have serious problems: depression, grief, loneliness. But the bookshop brings them together in a really wonderful way. 

I hope you get a chance to read this novel. It was perfect to read in the week leading to Christmas. I have a few more holiday books here, but I think I'm going to end my holiday reading with this novel. I have a few non-holiday books I'm going to try and finish before the end of the year, and I'll have my top ten reads out before January first. 

Rating: 5/6 for a novel about the power of books, community, and the Christmas spirit. Book lovers will enjoy this book very much. 

Available in paperback and ebook. 

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