The Nerd Who Saved Christmas


At least according to a friend, the mother of eight smartypants kids, who texted the following request a week before Santa’s arrival

A test request from a friend to recommend some wholesome books for my kids for Christmas

Simple enough assignment, yeah? Identify rated-G or PG novels I love—literature—for half a dozen unnaturally brilliant, high-achieving readers ranging in age from eleven to twenty-five, books that aren’t treacle or L’Engle, Robinson, or Cather (whom I’m sure they’ve already read). And yet.

I’ve read some dazzling works of fiction and nonfiction in the past year, all containing at least one scene of a “defiling” nature. I’m mature, I’m inured, but I wanted to honor her request and her kids are pretty great, so this book nerd was up to the challenge! I had to dig back in my archive, but here’s the list of G/PG-rated recommendations curated off the top of my head, according to age (all daughters, except for one):

But then OH, I remembered, for everyone: The Water Dancer: A Novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Murmur of Bees, by Sofia Segovia. I was late to The Water Dancer, which after Coates’s gorgeous epistolary memoir, Between The World and Me, I fell under his spell. Segovia’s novel, deftly translated by Simon Bruni, was equally enchanting but also eerily timely, pandemically speaking.

And how about you? What wholesome literature would you add to the list?

What are friends for?

Published by Beth Bates

Writer, writing coach, book editor, CNF instructor, connector, mom, wife, and lover of fresh air, grass, trees, birds, waves, sand, mountains, stories, and travel Let's be friends on Twitter @bethbates

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