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On the Tenth Day of Christmas: Ten Books to Read

On the Tenth Day of Christmas: Ten Books to ReadHoly Cow! It’s December 14th. How is Christmas only 11 days away?! If you’re still struggling with your shopping list, be sure to check out our 8th and 9th days for some unique gift suggestions that you won’t find on most gift list roundups. If you’d like to start the tradition known as Jólabókaflód as Dawn suggested on day Two, I have 10 book suggestions for you today. So, let’s get to it!

On the tenth day of Christmas, we give you 10 Books to Read, Nine “Smart” Home Technology OptionsEight Pieces in Which to InvestSeven Interior Design Blogs to ReadSix Festive CocktailsFive Holiday Wishes, Four Tips for a Successful RenovationThree Blogs Not to MissTwo New Traditions, and One Room to Refresh.

12 Book Challenge

Last December, I decided to join the 12 Books by 12 Friends Challenge. It was a challenge going around on Facebook and the idea was to gather twelve book recommendations and commit to reading those books throughout 2023. The challenge encouraged participants to not only read more in 2023, but also to branch out into genres they may not typically choose.

While the challenge was to read 12 books, I had so many recommendations that I couldn’t pick just 12. I ended up with 24. Now, I’m certain many of you are like some of my friends and read at least 24 books a year, but, much to the chagrin of my English-lit teaching mother, I typically max out at six books during a good year, so 24 was a stretch.

However, I do read at least two books with my youngest per day, and my oldest and I have read everything from the Harry Potter series to To Kill a Mockingbird to a series set during WWII. We’re currently trying to work our way through Lord of the Rings. Help! The odds of finishing that series are not good. I feel like we’ve been reading the second book for 10 years and we’re not even halfway through. (My son turns 12 tomorrow.) So, I read much more than I count. I need to keep that in mind. It’s probably safe to say some of you read more than you give yourself credit for as well.

The List – 24 Books

Even with 24 books selected for the year, I added to the list! The original list consisted of:


  • Fifty Words for Rain
  • The Kitchen House
  • The Maid
  • The Family Game (Audiobook)
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
  • The Rose Code
  • Some Danger Involved: Barker & Llewelyn Series, Book 1
  • The Lost Apothecary


  • The Golden Couple (Audiobook)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Quiet
  • Good Boundaries and Goodbyes

Still on the List:

  • Honor
  • The People We Keep
  • The Great Alone
  • Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
  • True Biz
  • One Two Three
  • Mad Honey
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Code Name Helene
  • Mexican Gothic

Not on the List, but Finished:

  • Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
  • Anna Karenina (Audiobook)
  • To Kingdom Come: Barker & Llewelyn Series, Book 2
  • The Limehouse Text: Barker & Llewelyn Series, Book 3

I won’t meet my goal of 24 by year’s end, but I have read, or listened to, more than 12. (Oh, and do you know how long Anna Karenina is? 35 hours and 35 minutes!!!)

10 Book Suggestions

Enough of the background that led to this point. On this tenth day of Christmas, I give you the 10 books I suggest adding to your to-read list (some come with a stronger recommendation than others!):

The Rose Code

WWII historical fiction is my genre of choice. The Nightingale has been my favorite book since I read it while on bedrest in 2015. So, it’s no wonder The Rose Code by Kate Quinn was the second book I read this year and my favorite. Reading it felt like watching a movie and I loved that the characters were based on real people, Bletchley Park was an actual place, and much of the details described how the brilliant minds brought to work at BP helped Britain and their Allies eventually win the war. I couldn’t put this one down.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry has stuck with me more than anything else I read this year. I read it in the Spring. It was heartbreaking and I found myself wanting to find him and give him a big hug. I also had a feeling he would pass by year’s end. I don’t follow celebrities and the only celebrity death that had ever touched me was Robin Williams. Until now. Maybe it’s my age and how Friends was such a big part of our culture, but it’s truly felt like we lost a friend.

Some Danger Involved

Next on the list is Some Danger Involved: Barker & Llewelyn Series, Book 1 by Will Thomas. This was my mom’s recommendation. It’s set in London in the 1800s and delves into the vigilante detective work of a private enquiry agent and his assistant. A book with witty characters holds my attention and the period detail of Victorian London paints vivid scenes. Some twists and turns kept the book moving and interesting. After I finished it, I read the next two in the series.

To Kingdom Come and The Limehouse Text

Barker & Llewelyn Series Books 2 and 3 – I love the characters and the plot twists. I’m officially hooked on this series. There are at least 14, I think. I plan to make my way through them all.

The Maid

The main character in The Maid by Nita Prose is an endearing twenty-five-year-old named Molly who has Aspergers Syndrome. She’s an intriguing protagonist in an atypical whodunit. My mama bear instincts kicked in wanting to help and protect her. Her grandmother, who had raised her and helped interpret the world around her, recently died so she’s on her own navigating an often-unkind world.

The story opens with her finding a dead body in one of the rooms of the hotel in which she works as a maid. Her coworkers are cruel, and the detectives don’t know how to interpret her peculiarities, so she quickly becomes a suspect. The author does a beautiful job of conveying how Molly’s mind works. Again, this isn’t one I likely would have picked up had it not been for this challenge. I’m glad I did.

The Family Game

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman is not one I probably would have picked up. The cover looks like it belongs in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble. But that’s the beauty of this challenge. I listened to this one and am glad I went that route so I could hear it read with a British accent. While I enjoyed the book, I’d put it in the “vacation” category. It was entertaining, not too deep, with an ending that wasn’t terribly shocking.

The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom was a quick read. Even though the ending was no surprise, I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next with each of the characters. There are two narrators – Lavinia, an Irish orphan, and Belle, the plantation owner’s illegitimate daughter and chief cook. Lavinia is an indentured servant brought to the plantation after her parents died on the plantation owner’s ship. She’s raised by the house slaves, but, as she grows up, finds herself torn between two worlds – white society and the slaves whom she considers family. It’s a bit melodramatic, but you really get to know the characters and the pace is swift.

The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner makes the list because of the settings – eighteenth-century and present-day London. Nella, a mysterious woman, runs a hidden apothecary that caters to women. She sells well-disguised poisons that are used against the men who oppress them. The murders go unsolved and are hidden until present-day Caroline, finds a clue to the apothecary’s existence while mudlarking along the River Thames. I didn’t connect with the characters, but I enjoyed the mystery and now want to go mudlarking in London.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Ah, setting them and following through are still works in progress. I bought the workbook after I read the book and wish I had had the workbook from the beginning as I haven’t been able to get back into it to complete the work. If you’re a people pleaser who has trouble saying “no,” add this one to your list. Self-help type books take me forever to get through (hence why the other book about boundaries and Quiet are still on my started-but-not-finished list). But this one seemed to move a little faster. You’ll want a highlighter.

Coming to an End

I know I cheated a little by adding my own to the list, but it got me to read more this year and that was the ultimate goal. I still plan to read most of the others that were recommended eventually.

I’ll finish The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen within the next week or so and I’ll possibly finish A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, by year’s end. If all goes as planned, I’ll be able to add two more to my “Finished” list.

I’m exactly halfway through The Golden Couple and am enjoying it. Lots of twists and turns and unanswered questions. I’m hooked. A Gentleman in Moscow is a slower start. It’s not one you can start when you’re already half asleep. I’m looking forward to some downtime during Christmas break to finish it.

How about you? What did you read this year? Give me recommendations for my 2024 reading list.


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Kara Marketing Director and Office Manager
Kara plays a pivotal role in shaping our interior design firm's narrative, dedicating herself to fostering creativity and connecting with our audience. Since 2019, she has seamlessly managed both office and marketing responsibilities, ensuring the smooth operation of our day-to-day activities. Kara's passion for analytics and strategic planning drives our marketing efforts forward. As an introverted non-designer navigating the extroverted worlds of marketing and design, Kara brings a unique perspective to our team. Outside of work, she embraces her role as a hockey mom, cherishing adventures with her two boys.

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