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Holiday Books to Curl Up With

Whether you have taken two whole weeks off of work or only have a day or two to celebrate the holidays (or perhaps a student who is finally finding some time for recreation), we hope that you take some time to curl up and give yourself the gift of reading this next week or so. Whether you’re curled up by the fire with only a tea, quilt, and a book to keep you company or are reading aloud with a group of nieces, nephews, cousins, and the like gathered around, here are some titles that are sure to bring you comfort and joy.

1. A Christmas Carol by: Charles Dickens


Whether it is Tiny Tim’s humble heart or Scrooge’s tear inducing transformation, this will definitely put you in the mood for the holidays and teach you some valuable lessons along the way.

2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis


Not a true holiday read, but with the land of Narnia cursed in everlasting Winter (always Winter and never Christmas!) and the Pevensie children battling for justice in Aslan’s name, this book is certainly one that will enrich the lives of children and adults alike. It is also one of the best installments of C.S. Lewis’s unbeatable series.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by: Dr. Seuss


Somehow, Little Cindy, Seuss’s contagious rhyming, and the song that is forever associated with the story makes this classic one that never grows old.

4. Little Women by: Louisa May Alcott


” ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” Spread the gift Alcott gave us all when she penned this masterpiece by at least reading some pages from one of my all-time favorites.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas by: Charles M. Schultz


Charlie Brown and Linus teach me what Christmas is all about every year(spoiler alert: it’s not about the tree!). The best part is that you can follow up with the movie afterwards!


So curl up with the eggnog and cookies and find a book to keep you company! Stay warm and safe this holiday season and let us know what you’re reading!

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A Literary Thanksgiving

While we don’t need turkeys and cranberry sauce and an Uncle Larry who makes inappropriate jokes and smells funny to remind us to give thanks for the literature in our lives, the staff here at Writers and Books did want to get in the true spirit of the season and share what about books and reading we are most grateful for. We hope you enjoy.

Two nights ago my 3 1/2 year old daughter grabbed The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail De Marcken off of the shelf, and together we read this magnificent story about a quiltmaker who teaches a greedy king about the joy that comes from giving to others. My daughter asked for this same book last night proclaiming how much she loves this story. I am thankful that literature allows us to pass down what is meaningful to us through the power of storytelling.

I am also grateful that my daughter announced out of the blue to me in the car last week, “I love books. I always want to read books. Every night forever I want to read books. I looooveee books”. May that last a lifetime. It will always give her solace, joy, discovery, empathy, and knowledge.

— Alexa Scott Flaherty

I’m thankful for good literature, and to work at Writers & Books with other “lit lovers”, where we’re able to discuss the written word on a regular basis is something I’m very thankful for.  Here are two of my favorite holiday books:  “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson.

–Kathy Potetti

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it at least 5 times. I’m thankful for this book because it’s an incredibly well-written mystery/thriller – two things that do not always go hand in hand. It’s also a book about books, which I always find interesting and fun! A brief description: “An antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book by author Julian Carax, and makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written.

— Tate DeCaro

A book I’m thankful for this year is The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob. The plot was compelling and I found I could relate to the characters. The trials that the family goes through in the book were very real and raw to me and it felt good to have such a connection with them. Then on top of being head over heels for the book, I got to meet the author when she came to town for Debut Novel Series. Mira Jacob was a delight and it made the entire processes a richer experience for me.

— Chris Fanning

It is impossible for me to pick a single book for which I am most grateful, but I always seem to return to The Chronicles of Narnia series around this time of year. My dad used to read it to my sisters and me every night and it was Aslan, Lucy, Tumnus, and the rest that opened many doors for me, wardrobe and otherwise. The adventures C.S. Lewis provided is what made me first fall in love with reading and all the imagination, empathy, escapism, and magic that, for me, all literature carries with it.

–Rylie Day


Have a joyous and safe Thanksgiving everyone!


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Naked in Encino

unnamedA World Premiere Comedy by Wendy Kout

Our very own Development Director, Alexa Scott-Flaherty, performs in this world premiere play where naked truths…and more…are exposed when five women of diversely different backgrounds gather for a self-help seminar. This laugh-out-loud comedy from the award-winning screenwriter of the film “Dorfman in Love” and the creator of the TV series “Anything But Love,” makes its official world premiere at JCC CenterStage after an acclaimed developmental production in Denver. (Opening Night Reception and Q&A with Author Wendy Kout)

Wendy-Kout-e1360357878467Saturday, December 6 at 8 PM
Sunday, December 7 at 2 PM
Thursday, December 11 at 7 PM
Saturday, December 13 at 8 PM
Sunday, December 14 at 2 PM*
Thursday, December 18 at 7 PM
Saturday, December 20 at 8 PM
Sunday, December 21 at 2 PM

To order tickets, click here

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B.J. Yudelson Book Release

Thursday, December 4th

6:30 PM

Members – $3

General Public – $5 

200Come celebrate the book release of BJ Yudelson’s “With an Outstretched Arm” The book relates how chance encounters propelled her, people and books inspired her, and tragedy tested her, challenging her to ask difficult questions. How can she balance the ethical and ritual sides of Judaism? Will she always feel like an outsider? How can she overcome the existential loneliness that follows her young daughter’s death? Where can she find God’s outstretched arm?

Recollections of Passover seders mark her gradual ascent up the ladder of tradition. The springtime rituals become springboards to discuss her religious changes as she moves from city to city and becomes a wife, mother, and grandmother. Ultimately, she eschews easy answers, learns to live with the discomfort of ambiguity, and embraces the community that she comes to see as God’s outstretched arm in action.

Here are what others have to say about the book:

“Written with honesty, intelligence, and grace, With an Outstretched Arm will break your heart and put it back together again. B. J. Yudelson’s writing captivates and enlightens, but most of all, resonates. A story of love and loss, family and faith, this memoir is a story for us all.” Sonja Livingston, author, GhostbreadYudelson-e1379340518571-755x1024

“BJ Yudelson’s Outstretched Arm, smites and embraces. An extraordinary writer faces the joys and tragedies and existential questions of her life without flinching and has produced one of the most honest and moving memoirs one could read. It is not only the story of a search for Jewish identity and meaning on the broadest of American landscapes; it is a fearless voyage of self exploration – searching for whatever meaning and solace we can take from our suffering and our joy.” Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner, Author of Wrestling Jacob, (A Literary Psychological Reading of Genesis) Ben Yehuda Press

“With An Outstretched Arm is the compelling story of one woman’s journey through life. B. J. Yudelson’s memoir reminds us that the One who created us will see us through the complexities of this journey and that often our family of faith becomes the living reality of the grace, love, and support of the One.” Pastor Ron Domina, Bethel Christian Fellowship, Rochester

“B.J. Yudelson has written a sensitive, heartfelt, deeply engaging account of her spiritual journey and family life. Honest, open, and very real as she describes tragedy, she comes through with her love for her life and her family intact. I was gripped throughout.” –Stephanie Wellen Levine, author of Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls

For more information on B.J. Yudelson, head over to her website at