Growing up Evangelical, I didn’t know much about advent. I knew there was a chocolate calendar involved, but my family didn’t really bother with because we had my mother’s Christmas coffee cake (which is better than life, let alone chocolate).
Advent, it transpires, is a season of waiting. A season of anticipation and expectation and hope.
We wait (and hope) for a lot of pretty serious things. For children to call or parents to forgive. We wait for the end of violence and for civil discourse. We wait for events we can’t imagine like Christ’s second coming and the big, amorphous ideals that are prophesied to follow: peace and justice. We wait and hope, in other words, for things that seem impossibly far away.
The waiting we do during advent is so much more accessible. So reliable. Christmas comes every year, on time. Tangible things like food and simple traditions like music like eggnog like hanging socks above a fireplace are what we ask for and what we receive.
Having our simple expectations fulfilled exercises our expectation muscles so that the big, more idealistic hopes feel a lot closer.
And so we wait.
Those who know me know I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. Besides my mother’s coffee cake, Christmas doesn’t hold a lot of joy for me. So I practice advent in other ways, waiting for something else: stories. In the past, a lot of us waited for the Harry Potter books each summer, and then it was the Lord of the Rings movies, and most recently (and perhaps with the most trepidation) the newest installation of Star Wars.
I have simple, but huge expectations for 2016. It will be the year of the book, of good books, of great books that finish amazing book series. Below, in order of how delighted I will be when these books arrive, are the final installments of trilogies I’ve read this past year:
1. Morning Star by Pierce Brown
The Red Rising Trilogy is fast, fun reading and the first series Brown has ever written. The author shows promise (the trilogy’s level of awesomeness is more on par with The Hunger Games than Harry Potter), and he builds some great tension soon to be resolved (January 12).
2. The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks
Brent Weeks writes for the movie screen: every page is action-packed, filled with hilarious one-liners and an amazing range of characters. This conclusion to the Lightbringer Trilogy (technically now a quartet) can only be as good if not better than the last three installments. Set to arrive in fall or winter of 2016.
3. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
I love Sanderson’s work for his sense of humor first, depth of thought second and (in an age of G.R.R. Martins) for its amazing to just keep on coming. The Reckoners trilogy is tiny compared to the Stormlight Archives and simple compared to the world of Mistborn, but Calamity promises all the genius of a Sanderson book and comes this spring!
4. The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss
There is no release date for The Doors of Stone, but I don’t care. I will wait for this book as long as Rothfuss needs to write it, and I will be happy whenever I get it because it will be as amazing as the first two: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I believe in you, Patrick Rothfuss.