From my earliest days, my world has been filled with writing and reading. When I was growing up, my parents had little money to spend on non-essentials, and Christmastime was no exception. New toys were few, with most of Santa’s gifts having been loved before by some other child.
Every Christmas, my biggest gift under our tree was a box of used books. For months preceding the holiday season, my mother scoured the local Goodwill store in search of books to feed her daughter’s voracious reading appetite. And each Christmas, I was delighted by what my mother had found. From mystery and crime fiction writers like Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner to classic authors like Mark Twain and William Shakespeare, I never knew what I would find in that box. I remember one year there was a racy Mickey Spillane novel that caused quite the ruckus in my seventh grade English class (but that’s another story!). The books of the Christmas box were better than any I could check out at the library because I could bend the corners and underline my favorite parts in pencil.
The first book box that Santa brought was just after my brother was born. I was three at the time and don’t quite remember opening the gift, but I remember the books it contained: LAZY FOX AND RED HEN, CHICKEN LITTLE, PETER RABBIT — dozens of Little Golden Books. These would become some of the favorite stories of my childhood. There was a particular book in that first box that was my favorite story of all: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. To this day, I remember how lush the illustrations were! I made my mother read it to me over and over. And every year following, my brother and I would crawl up onto the feather ticking of my parents’ bed in the days leading up to Christmas, and night after night she would read it to us.
When I had children of my own, the tradition continued. There are still boxes of books under the tree (although now they are new). And we still read THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. My mother has the old version, so I bought a similar one for my own children. Every Christmas Eve, I pull it off the shelf and read it in the same manner that my mother read it to me, with all of the emotion one might feel if, in the middle of the night, one found a man dressed all in red with a herd of reindeer on her roof. And every year I get that lump in my throat and that mist of water in my eyes when I remember the joy of opening those big boxes of books and the anticipation of the wonderful stories waiting inside.
Ever craved a good book and just not been inspired by anything you see? Or felt annoyed that you bought a book that was merely so-so? Or closed a book and JUST wanted to talk about it? Or wished you had a place to discover new books?
The Book Report Network, co-founder and president Carol Fitzgerald knows how that feels and aims to solve these reader dilemmas, with thoughtful book reviews, compelling features, in-depth author profiles and interviews, excerpts of the hottest new releases, contests and more every week. The Book Report Network has been the best place online to talk about your last great read – and find your next one.
Sharon Virts is a successful entrepreneur and historical fiction author. Her passion for storytelling is encapsulated in her novel Masque of Honor. It is one of the best historical fiction books chronicling the drama, life, loves and struggles of two families of the Virginia aristocracy following the War of 1812. Sharon Virts has captured Virginia history in this American historical fiction novel based on the true story of two cousins in the early 19th century. Set in Loudoun County Virginia and the District of Columbia it is both historical fiction romance and historical fiction drama.