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Merry Christmas!: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday - Karal Ann Marling

Thoroughly engaging account of how the religious holiday was secularized. If you want to know the origins of the way Americans gift-wrap, decorate trees, etc. for the holiday, this is your book.

Eighty Stars from Tyutchev's Galaxy - Fyodor Tyutchev

Some of the best lyrical poetry to come from Russia during the late 19th century. Though he wrote occasional pieces and political poems which constitute nearly half his output, 200 of his lyric pieces make up the core of his output. They are at once metaphysical and concrete, much like Donne, though much less "esoteric," more accessible. His meanings are always specific always relatable to the human.

The Flanders Road - Claude Simon, Richard Howard

A masterpiece from the greatest of the nouveau roman novelists. You almost experience the book more than merely read it, so adept is Simon at conveying mental and sensual experience.  He looks at only a few episodes from different POVs, each POV giving rise to a slightly different style, like Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style meets the funeral procession in Joyce's Ulysses. His aim is to put you in the heads of his characters as they experience and remember the events in question, all circling around:  Captain de Reixach is shot dead by a sniper during the German advance into Belgium in 1940. Three witnesses,  a relative, an orderly, and his wife's lover, remember him and help the reader understand the man and what led to his death.

The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / Antigone - Dudley Fitts, Sophocles, Robert Fitzgerald

Perhaps second only to Shakespeare and Moliere in depicting his characters' inner life on stage. This translation is as good as a strictly literal one in giving us the playwright's voice while maintaining his meaning.

Spellcaster - George Bachman

A steampunk and urban fantasy set both in an alternate Victorian era and an even stranger 14th century France. Preparing for her official debut into London society, a young girl suffers an illness threatening to kill her and seemingly caused by psychic headaches triggered by otherworldly visions too vivid to be merely a nightmare. Discovering the cure forces her to confront possessing spirits from the medieval era, forbidden spells, and a horrible choice to help save one world by betraying someone close to her.