THEY are the sort of books that always catch my eye; small hardbacks that seem to be designed to sit in your hand and whisper “buy me”.

Last night I came across Craig Silvey’s (author of the fantastic 2009 book Jasper Jones) new book for younger readers, The Amber Amulet. How could you not pick this one up? The cover’s reminiscent of a 1940s gum-shoe classic, the paper is high quality – it’s going to be hyped as the perfect stocking filler for sure.

Have I read it yet? No, but it’s on The Stack, along with Susan Hill’s ghost story Dolly and Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams. 

Each of these titles are less than 200 hundred pages long – the perfect length for the lead up to December.

Here’s the first line from each book:

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey, Allen&Unwin, $16.99

“The Masked Avenger can make things happen.”

Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, Profile Books, $24.95

“An autumn night and the fens stretch for miles, open and still.”

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Granta, $24.95

“In the summer of 1917 Robert Grainier took part in an attempt on the life of a Chinese labourer caught, or any-way accused of, stealing from the company stores of the Spokane International Railway in the Idaho Panhandle.”

Happy reading.