These Farmhouse Bookshelves (Advent 1)

Books are a year-round pleasure in this house.

I always have a bedside pile (okay, tower) of books I am currently reading, and I read aloud to my children (yes, even my twelve-year-old) nearly every day. But something happens to my book love when we feed the last of the porch pumpkins to the chickens and go in search of our Advent wreath.

It becomes an obsession.

Perhaps it’s the early darkness and cold and all those hours to fill indoors. Perhaps it’s the discipline of Advent observance. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of Christmas. Maybe it’s because I am buying so many books to give as gifts. Or, maybe it is for every one of these reasons.

However I account for it, our December days are marked by the turning of pages.




During Advent, my reading takes on a heightened focus. I don’t read anything “just because.” For instance, this is the month when I reread Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher.

I think of this novel, set in snowy Scotland in the days leading up to Christmas, as my version of those sentimental holiday movies so many enjoy this time of year. It’s a great, warm, afghan of a novel, but it’s made of high-quality Scottish wool. Nothing cheap or slap-dash here. Pilcher’s story is full of love and sentiment but never sentimental. I am always so glad to pick it up again.


One of our favorite recent read-alouds would make a great stocking stuffer (it really is just the right size! and price!). It’s The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame.

I bought this book after enjoying her picture book Christmas in Noisy Village (Picture Puffin) for years. The Children of Noisy Village features the same children but describes their activities not only at Christmas but all through the year on a traditional Swedish farm. It’s a chapter book, but the chapters are brief. It’s pretty much an ideal bedtime read.

I think anything Scandinavian is perfect for the Christmas season, but I am recommending this book because my two sons, one a reluctant reader and the other a reluctant reader and reluctant listener, both adored it. The storytelling is simple and so true to childhood. It’s all about food and games, special celebrations and traditions, childish friendships and milestones as momentous as being given the responsibility for shopping at the village store entirely on your own.

We finished the book weeks ago, but when my nine-year-old quoted one of the lines from the book last night at dinner, the boys and I were practically rolling on the floor with laughter.


I love to read through a daily Advent book and usually alternate between Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas and God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas (Reader’s Edition). But there are so many wonderful, possibilities for a daily devotion. This would be the perfect time of year to begin one of my favorite books, Madeleine L’Engle’s The Irrational Season (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 3).

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name has exactly twenty-four stories from Old Testament beginning to the birth of Jesus and makes ideal Advent reading with small children. I have also enjoyed Ann Voskamp’s beautifully illustrated Advent devotional Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas with my older kids.


I know that for many, December begins with a Christmas tree. We won’t cut down our tree for a few weeks yet, but our anticipation begins when I pull out our collection of Christmas storybooks. I’ll gather those books from a shelf in the third floor-closet on Sunday afternoon (something that will require at least four trips up and down those narrow, old stairs) and tell you about a few of them next Saturday.

If you have small children or grandchildren, Advent is the perfect time of year to begin a Christmas picture book collection. I’ve included amazon affiliate links in this post, but one of my favorite sources for beautiful, meaningful holiday books is Chinaberry.

When my kids were small, I began buying two or three Christmas books each year (I found many of them at our local thrift store) and that collection is now my very favorite thing to pull out each year. Better even than the familiar tree ornaments made with macaroni and glitter.


Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is one of our favorite family books no matter the season. Over the summer, our family visited the original Wilder homestead in Malone, NY. I recently wrote about that visit (and so much more) for Art House America. You can read all about my harvest of memory right here.

These Farmhouse Bookshelves (Snowstorm Edition)

I love winter. I love snow.

I love them for themselves, but, let’s be honest, I love that they give me more time for my books.

Is your driveway buried in as much snow as mine? Here are a few books perfect for snowy days.

Now, if only the library delivered …


(You can find all my Saturday book recommendations here and some explanation about my use of affiliate links.)


ice and fog


Lately, I’ve kept my nose buried in seed and plant catalogs rather than books. I open one up determined to find just the right cucumber for pickling and within minutes I am planning a quarter-acre rose garden. These catalogs are just a little dangerous for me.

Almost the only thing with the power to pull me away from the catalogs (and the daydreams) is a book by Louise Penny. Her Chief Inspector Gamache detective novels are my new favorite thing. One by one, I am devouring them. I’ve started treating them like chocolate. I am always greedy for more, but I’m desperately concerned I’ll run out.

Yes, they are that good.

You’ll want to begin with the first: Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries, No. 1). Today, I’m reading # 6: Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel. These books just keep getting better.

Number Six is perfect snow day reading. Inspector Gamache is wandering the snowy streets of old Quebec City, and it is Winter Carnival time. Everything that makes this series so special is present and accounted for: a charming and brave hero, tangled mysteries, delicious food and drink (I can’t read one of these books without craving fresh-baked croissants and creamy cafe au lait), history, spirituality, and a beautiful setting.

Have I mentioned I love these books?

Another book I love is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. I’d never read this one before December, but, like one of my favorite book bloggers, I plan to reread it every December from now on.

This novel is beautifully written but easy to read. It is deeply thoughtful but light and fun. It is set in Scotland. There’s a snowstorm. The characters are wonderful.

And the ending? Beautiful.

Here is a book for the little skiers and sledders: It’s Snowing! by Olivier Dunrea. This sweet little picture book captures the joy of a mama and her baby playing in the snow. It’s simple and lovely and quiet, and I love it very much.

I bought it while living in Florida and just about cried the first time I read it, but now? I read it with a smile on my face.

Tell me, which books keep you company in winter?


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