If you’re like me, the prospect of a few quieter days usually brings to mind stacks of books, most of which I will never get to but that still thrill me with their potential.

For the sake of focus, however, this holiday season, I am going to focus on five books that really entice me.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – I just started this fascinating book about the Great Migration of black people from the South of the U.S. into northern and western places. I love how she has put the book together, and the stories are intriguing. I’m eager to see how this part of history links to the time of history I’m working in.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco I have loved everything that Eco has ever written, and while his writing isn’t exactly “light” or “fast,” his stories always engross me, and in contrast to the American history I’ll be reading, a tale of European turmoil will be a nice foil.

Blood Done Signed My Name by Timothy Tyson
My friend Kipp recommended this book to me saying, “his father was a Methodist minister active in the Civil Rights movement, and the book is a reflection on an act of violence in their town during his childhood, his father’s attempts as a liberal white cleric to act faithfully and prophetically (to mixed effect), and the continued legacies of race in America.” Can’t wait to read this one.

A Secret Gift by Ted Gup At the holidays, it seems important to read about the generosity of a spirit. During the Great Depression, the author’s grandfather gave away, anonymously, small sums of cash to many families struggling financially. This book tells the story of how Gup came to understand his grandfather’s action.

Israel on the Appomattox by Melvin Patrick Ely
This book tells the story of a free black community in Prince Edward County, Virginia – just down the road from where I live. 90 African American people lived free and showed that it was possible for whites and blacks to live together. I’m especially excited about reading this one.

What books are you planning to read over the holidays?