One of the best gifts I ever received was a reading journal on my 10th birthday. Jeff, my older brother, gave it to me. He said, “Write down the author and title of each book that you read. Always underline the title.” He added, “Now promise me, that you will only write down the author and title after you’ve read every word in the book, beginning to end.” So, that’s my ritual. Perusing my current journal, I found the last five titles I read. Here are a few impressions about each one.

“Merry Christmas, Alex Cross” by James Patterson — Crime, Mystery, Thriller. Detective Alex Cross is called out on Christmas Eve to handle two hostage situations in Washington D.C.

“Hidden History of Vincennes and Knox County” by Brian Spangle — Local History. Spangle, Indiana Historical Society’s Hubert Hawkins Distinguished Service Award winner, wrote and published his second book one year ago. There are six chapters focusing on the following time periods: 1890’s-1910; 1910-1920; 1920-1930; 1930-1940; 1940-1950 and 1950-1960.

“Year We Left Home” by Jean Thompson — Literary Fiction. This is a novel in the Indiana Humanities Inseparable series which asks Hoosier readers to consider what unites and divides us across urban, suburban and rural lines. A finalist for the National Book Award, the novel follows the Erikson family through the many changes and cultural shifts in American life in the 20th century. The power of place is one of the main themes in the book. It confirms what I believe that though we may leave home, our place of origin forever echoes in our lives. Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy received an Indiana Humanities grant to offer local discussions of the novel. The museum graciously donated multiple copies to the library.

“Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” by Ronan Farrow — True Crime. This book chronicles the journalist’s harrowing experiences as he pursued the truth behind movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of alleged rape and sexual assault of women.

“Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round” by Myquillyn Smith — Home Decorating. Known as the “nester,” Smith guides us through “shopping our home” to make our personal spaces festive, stylish and comforting with ease and little or no money.

The Danish concept of hygge is one that I relish during the winter. It refers to finding comfort, pleasure and warmth in simple, soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere or the feeling of friendship. It’s a concept of cultivating mental health through cherishing little things that make life happier. One of those is reading. There’s no better time of year to read. At the library, you’ll find the books mentioned above and thousands more. As you enter the main library building, you’ll find many colorful displays of new books in every category. Visit the library’s Web site at and download ebooks to read on iPads, phones and other personal electronic devices. The library is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

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