Now that the mad rush of the holidays is subsiding, many of us find ourselves with extra time on our hands—perfect for catching up on good books. A warm fire, a cup of coffee or glass of wine and a great read. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a wintry afternoon before we launch back into busy routines again. Here are our staff picks from this year:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Winner of the National Book Award for fiction, The Round House takes place on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota and offers readers a glimpse into life as a Native American. The story is told through the eyes of Joe, a young indian boy on the brink of manhood, who seeks justice for a terrible crime committed against his mother. It’s a page turning story that will have you putting off work to read late into the night. Available at Little Professor in Birmingham. —From Catherine Romero, SB Birmingham City Manager


round house book

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

I confess, I am a re-reader. I read this book two years ago and I loved it so much I read it again this year. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna is one of the best of all her books. Kingsolver has tangible prose that allows you to see, hear, smell and taste her descriptions. The Lacuna interweaves a fictional plot with an historical narrative, where a fictional man becomes friends with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and witnesses integral parts of the Riveras’ lives. Available at Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville. —From Heidi Potter, SB Louisville City Manager


The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

Reading is one of my favorite ways to spend my free time, so even in the last busy months of pregnancy and the even crazier first few months with a newborn, I found time to curl up with a good book. Of all the books I read over the summer, my favorite was The Silver Star: A Novel by Jeannette Walls. I fell in love with the beautiful way Walls uses words to describe the details of her characters and settings in her first two books, The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. In The Silver Star, Walls uses the same descriptive voice to tell the story of Bean Holladay and her sister, Liz in their journey to discover what love actually is. Available at A Cappella Books in Atlanta. —From Katherine Snell, SB Atlanta Contributing Editor

jeaneette walls

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

It’s been a long year, we all need to laugh— loud and hard. For side-splitting hilarity, it’s Jenny Lawson (aka “The Bloggess”) to the rescue. I actually do not regularly follow many blogs, but when I happened upon “The Bloggess” a few years ago it made my short list. This year, Jenny published her first book as an homage to her unbelievably quirky family. The title, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, reflects her personal discovery that the strange, bizarre, often embarrassing moments in life become the best stories. Lawson decided to share her moments, resulting in this hysterically irreverent romp through the magical land of her eccentricity. She’s gotta mouth like a salty sailor, but she’s the best kind of crazy. (Caution: Readers may require a Depend® undergarment for this one, or at least a Poise® pad.) Pick up a copy at A Cappella Books in Atlanta. —From Katherine Michalak, SB Atlanta Contributing Editor

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson

I had fun reading A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson, author and creator of BooMama. “This is Jerry Seinfeld in a skirt …” (Ann Voskamp). This delightful read is written for women of all ages. It is a cheerful, funny and tender account of Sophie’s very Southern family. She shares hope and humor, taking a look at everyday real people and showing how God is in the midst of daily living. Southern-style recipes complement each chapter. Available at {Social} a shop for gracious living and The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis. —From Christian Owen, SB Memphis City Manager


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Though categorized as Young Adult novel, I was completely absorbed by this beautiful book. I began reading it with my teenaged daughter in “dutiful mom” mode, but wound up sharing a box of tissues with her as we reached the end. The Fault in Our Stars is a bittersweet love story of two teenagers who meet at a cancer survivor group and fall in love, and it hits all the high notes important in a great story. I’m told that I’m not an outlier in my enjoyment of this uber-popular teen book and that it’s projected to be a huge hit by the adult market in 2014. Grab a copy in Nashville at Parnassus Books and in stock at BookmanBookwoman. —from Amy Norton, SB Managing Editor


If The Fault in Our Stars sounds like a familiar SB recommendation, you may recall we mentioned this book, along with many others, in a post we ran back in the summer. You can see all of those recommendations here: And if you want even more suggestions, here’s an additional list we found at NPR:

Happy New Year and happy reading!