I stopped into one of my favorite stores yesterday (on the way home from a hospital visit) and came out with a couple of new books for the Advent season -- and into Christmas. It's always difficult for me to find good Advent material. A few years ago I got the Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter collections: Watch for the Light and Bread and Wine, and still enjoy those many readings.
However, this year, I found a new book called God with us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas. It's beautifully illustrated, with readings for every day in Advent. It's published by Paraclete Press, an ecumenical publishing house. Some of the writers include: Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson. I also found A Seasonal Book of Hours, by William Storey, published by Liturgy Training Publications. This is not a book of readings. It is a morning and evening prayer book for Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. It is very simple and liturgical.
Last year I discovered a great picture book for children called An Advent Storybook. Little Bear and his mother are opening a door on their advent calendar each night, and telling a story. The first story is about a star with a tail. They end up at the manger in Bethlehem.
This year local author Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) has a picture book out for Christmas, called Great Joy. It's about a little girl who is preparing for a Christmas pageant (perhaps in the 1930s?) but is very concerned about an organ grinder and his monkey, who sleep on the street.
And there are two books I am recommending even though I'm not sure they are still in print: two short story collections by Katherine Paterson. One is Angels and Other Strangers, and the other is A Midnight Clear. They have been favorites of mine for a long time. I discovered a few years ago that she began writing the stories for her husband, a Presbyterian minister, to read on Christmas eve.
What are you reading this Advent?