Bookshelf: Holiday Season Reading


Douglas Beatty and Lori Hench host Baltimore County Public Library’s Book Chat, where they share their favorite titles, talk about new books hitting the shelves and help you discover your next great read. Join them on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live at

"One Christmas Morning" book cover

Doug Beatty’s Pick: “One Christmas Morning” by Rachel Greenlaw

Rachel Greenlaw gives us a modern and heart-wrenching holiday tale akin to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in her debut novel, “One Christmas Morning.” Eva has thrown everything into her business. The one request from her neglected husband, James, is for her to travel to Penhallow in Cornwall to spend Christmas with family and friends. But after experiencing severe trauma on Christmas three years prior, Eva is withdrawn and distant, and could be facing the end of many of her relationships. Because of a strange midnight visit from her deceased grandmother and a sudden ability to inhabit people around her, she begins to see herself as others see her. Will these revelations be too late? Solid writing and strong

"The Second Chance Year" book cover

character development add to a story that will be hard for any reader to put down.

Another recent holiday title tinged with magic is “The Second Chance Year” by Melissa Wiesner. It’s New Year’s Eve and Sadie Thatcher is recovering from the worst year of her life. She broke up with her boyfriend, Alex, and lost her job as a pastry chef at a prestigious New York City restaurant. When she goes to a carnival-themed New Year’s Eve party and wanders into a fortuneteller’s tent, the only thing she can wish for is a complete do-over of the year. Waking up one year prior, Sadie learns to be careful for what she wishes for in this delightful romance.

"The Leftover Woman" book cover
(William Morrow)

Lori Hench’s Pick: “The Leftover Woman” by Jean Kwok

Ready for an escape from the general holiday madness? Try “The Leftover Woman” by Jean Kwok. Jasmine Yang escapes an abusive marriage, landing in America just about penniless to search for the baby girl stolen from her, a byproduct of China’s draconian one-child policy. In contrast, blue-blooded Rebecca Whitney balances a demanding career in publishing, living in her gorgeous New York City home with her perfect husband and being a devoted mother to her adopted daughter, Fifi. This book asks how powerful is a mother’s love, and who has more claim: the biological mother or the adoptive mother? A poignant, incisive look at the

"The List" book cover
(William Morrow)

Solomon-like choices, big and small, that mothers must make every single day.

Another riveting story is “The List” by Yomi Adegoke. Ola and Michael are the “it” couple of London’s Black Twitter, darlings of social media, and soon to be married… until THE LIST comes out. It’s an anonymously compiled roster of successful men, called out for offenses from boorish slurs to sexual assault, and Michael is on it. Cue Michael and Ola’s sharp fall from grace. Very thoughtful discussions about the power of social media, sexism in modern society and how we decide who we believe and who gets a pass. Class, race, gender, ethnicity, fame—it’s all under the microscope here.

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