At the top of Living Book Club's holiday wish list: Alice Munro's "Family Furnishings." Between unwrapping presents and digging into desserts, crack open our December pick.
Credit: Bryan Gardner

Short stories are always a good idea for the holiday season, as they offer ample stopping points to refill cups of eggnog and add another log to the fire. So when we heard Alice Munro's "Family Furnishings" (Knopf) was coming out just in time to be added to our suitcases, it was the Living Book Club's obvious choice.

For those who've read "Selected Stories" (1968 to 1994), the 2013 Nobel Prize winning short story collection by Munro, you've been waiting with bated breath for another taste of her flawless tales of everyday life that feel anything but ordinary. This companion volume, which covers works from 1995 to 2014, allows readers back into the fold. And with 24 stories to devour, we're sure you'll get your fill of Munro's intoxicating prose. But if once isn't enough, they're just as good the second time through.


"Family Furnishings" brings us 24 of Alice Munro's most accomplished, most powerfully affecting stories, many of them set in the territory she has so brilliantly made her own: the small towns and flatlands of southwestern Ontario. Subtly honed with her hallmark precision, grace, and compassion, these stories illuminate the quotidian yet extraordinary particularity in the lives of men and women, parents and children, friends and lovers as they discover sex, fall in love, part, quarrel, suffer defeat, set off into the unknown, or find a way to be in the world.

Peopled with characters as real to us as we are to ourselves, Munro's stories encompass the fullness of human experience-from the wild exhilaration of first love, in "Passion," to the lengths a once-straying husband will go to make his wife happy as her memory fades, in "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." Other stories suggest the punishing consequences of leaving home ("Runaway") or leaving a marriage ("The Children Stay"). The part romantic love plays in one's existence is explored in "Too Much Happiness," based on the life of the noted 19th-century mathematician Sophia Kovalevsky. And in stories that Munro has described as "closer to the truth than usual"-"Dear Life," "Working for a Living," and "Home" among them-we glimpse the author's own life.

Pick up a copy before heading home for the holidays, and let us know below which short story was your favorite.


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