Monday, December 13, 2010


All I want for Christmas is...

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is less that two weeks away. I could be more in a panic if books weren’t the standard gift around our house. We are divided into lovers of obscure non-fiction and Canadian general fiction and mystery.

One year my friend, my brother and I all gave each other the same book: No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod. To make matters worse, we had each already bought and read our own copy. All to say, finding the right book at the right time for the right person, it’s an art.

But enough about everyone else, let’s talk about you and me. Here’s what I want in a Christmas book: I’d like it to be a mystery (and it could be more than one). I want to find the characters intriguing, people I’d like to spend some time with. This is more likely to happen if there is wit or humour in the narrative and if the characters have an entertaining knack for expressing themselves. I must care about what is happening to them and worry whether the protagonist and surrounding cast will not only solve the mystery (of course that will happen) but whether their lives will be undamaged and whether they have a chance at elusive happiness or at least succeed in resolving some life issue. The author must play fair with me as a reader and not spring previously unmentioned clues at the end. The whole experience should leave me wanting to reconnect with these same characters in the next book by that author.

On the practical side, this Christmas gift must be suitable for reading with a cup of tea and a small selection of quality chocolates. It should also lend itself to being read while I’m curled on
the sofa with a soft fluffy throw as snow swirls outside the window. A twinkling tree in the corner is a nice extra, but not essential. Ideally, the story will be gripping enough to make me turn off the phone ringer, before I sit down to enjoy it.

Well, now you know what I should get, how about you? What type of book or title do you want to find under the tree or in a gaily wrapped package? How do you see yourself enjoying it?

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three, soon to be three and a half, mystery series. You can check them out at

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