I am usually reading something, but one of my favorite things to do in the winter is curl up and read a good long book. Of course everyone has a different opinion on their favorite book - Carly has always loved Pride and Prejudice while I haven't been able to get through the book, the book on tape or the movie. My personal favorite is Gone with the Wind. I have read the book so many times that the binding is actually broken in half!

One of my favorite traditions revolving around books is Christmas Eve. Every year for as long as I can remember my mom & dad have let us open ONE gift on Christmas Eve which is always a book with an inscription of "Merry Christmas, Love Mom & Dad" and the year. When we were younger, we would get beautiful story books, and we would all sit around eating cookies and eggnog while we read one of the stories. As we got older, the books became novels. Still today, I look forward to opening up our gifts to find out what book I will be curled up with over the holiday season. So I thought it might be fun to share some of my recent and past must reads for this winter season.

What are some of your favorite must reads?

1. Chris Cleave's has written a few books, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed, but Gold has been my favorites. It is about two women who compete in professional cycling who must figure out what is more important to them family or winning. This isn't really a sports book, but a story that has you rooting for for each character at some point along the way.

2. I just finished Me Before You, and I have to say I was hesitant to start it, but couldn't put it down once I started. Moyes tells of two people who couldn't be more different, Lou who has an extremely normal life, and Will who had everything until one day he didn't. These two come together, pushing one another to live deeper and fuller beyond what they expected. It was one of those books that I raced to finish, but when I got close to the end I didn't want it to end. I also couldn't help but bawl at several points in the book, so good luck and enjoy every moment of it!

3. The Invisible Bridge, was last year's Christmas Eve book, and at first it was a bit difficult to get into, but once I became attached I couldn't stop. A story of a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student in 1937, who leaves for Paris with opportunity ahead of him until World War II breaks out. This is a novel that includes an amazing set of characters that experiences love and hardship and how to survive you must stick together. I was completely absorbed with this novel and the characters from smiling at the happiest moments to crying at the saddest. If you are in need of a long good book, this is a MUST!

4. This one has some odd moments that I can't exactly describe, but it takes you back in time to the 20's. I had never really thought about Ernest Hemingway and the life he led beyond writing books, but The Paris Wife tells of the fast-living life he and his first wife, Hadley Richardson lived in Paris. While Ernest was trying to find his voice as a writer, Hadley was trying to figure out what she was supposed to do as well. A true love story that goes a little deeper!

5. I have to admit I don't know all that much about North Korea, so when a friend recommended Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, I honestly didn't know what to expect. However, the heart wrenching story of Shin Dong-hyuk and how he discovered the outside world of North Korea and escaped is eye opening and concerning. This isn't an everyday easy read book, but one of those that makes me so glad I read it and that I want to pass along to as many people as possible.

6. Sadly, I used to not be a fan of Tina Fey. In fact, in general I am not a huge tv/movie watcher, but I had heard from so many people about Bossypants that I thought I should at least give it a try. I was surprised to thoroughly enjoy the book where Tina Fey tells her story from her Greek childhood, living big and deciding to become a mom. It is one of those books that makes you laugh out loud, but also makes you think, so if you want something that isn't too serious this holiday season I highly recommend picking this one up.

7. I have always had a thing for historical fiction. I was one of those girls who read every American Girl story that was available back in the 90's, and apparently things haven't changed too much. Sarah's Key is a fascinating story about a girl who locks her brother in their secret hiding place when the French police come to get their family in July 1942. The story unfolds when a journalist begins to investigate some 60 years later. It is an incredible, emotional historical novel that I couldn't put down.

8. Unbroken has been on my list of reads for a while now, but I still haven't read it! With the movie coming out on Christmas, I am putting this one at the top of my list to read. I mean we all know that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, but I think it makes it more fun to have read the book first! The nonfiction story is about Louis Zamperini who goes to the Berlin Olympics only to find himself as an airman a short time following. The bomber crashes and he finds that he must go to all odds to survive. I can't say if it is a must read yet, but from what I can tell it will be going down as a favorite soon!

Hope everyone can take a little time this winter to curl up & enjoy a good book. I know I am looking forward to Christmas Eve for my next praiseworthy book... no pressure Mom!

Stay Warm!