Have you started your Christmas preparation? Are you planning your tree decorations, your house decorations? Drawing up your present and shopping lists? Figuring out when to brave the supermarket aisles? On top of all that, have you got a plan for your festive reading? It should come as no surprise to learn that I have!
As well as the busyness of the holidays, it’s also a perfect time to take a bit of time out for yourself and read. We’ve said many times that reading for pleasure can be just that – one of life’s great joys – and with these dark and cold nights, curling up with a good book can be just the ticket! Studies have shown that just 6 minutes of reading can reduce your stress levels so if family/gift buying/general holiday stress is getting too much, diving into a book can be a way to take a step back, take a break and reboot yourself. Whether it’s to escape to sunnier climes, embrace the festivities with a Christmas-themed romance or subvert the season with a grisly winter murder, there are lots of titles to choose from. Likewise, if non-fiction is your preference, there are some fantastic books to seek out whether you want to embrace the season and knit your own festive jumper or learn more about the history of Christmas.
We’ve introduced you to lots of suggestions for younger readers in our previous blogs but these are the titles currently making up my ‘Festive To Be Read’ pile over at ED-quarters (that’s what I call my house) and the ones that would be on there if I had any space left on my library card.
My Current ‘TBR’ pile
My first selection is One Day in December by Josie Silver. A Christmas tale of missed chances to fall in love to warm the heart this yuletide. What more could you ask for? I’m currently reading this one and I have to say, it’s not what I expected. Not as sugar-coated a romance as you would expect, so far (I’m about 200 pages through), it’s shaping up to be a bit like an Eastenders episode! Next up is Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. Although set at Christmas, from the blurb on the back of the book, this caught my eye as it poses an interesting scenario – what would you do if you were quarantined with your family for Christmas and you couldn’t escape! Absolute dream or total nightmare?
I am a sucker for a cover with a snow globe on it – see below for further evidence – so Season of Us by Holly Chamberlain is right up my street. I didn’t even need to read the back of this one, I know I am going to love it. For those of you who need a bit more persuading, set in Appleville, this is a family tale of love, life and Christmas. Similarly, I love New York City (a bit like a certain Library Bear who went on their adventures earlier in the year and posted about their trip on here). Add Christmas to the mix and you have a book that I can not possibly ignore. Here’s looking at you One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggott
The ones that I can’t fit on at the moment
Anne Perry – A New York Christmas
You can see why I would want to read this. A turn of the century mystery novel set in the city that never sleeps, Anne Perry’s series is one that I am going to try to work my way through this year.
The Christmas Thief and other Stories – Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
Another one with an NYC link – one of the three novellas included in this collection solves the mystery of the missing Rockefeller Tree, stolen while on its way to its city home. Why would anyone want to steal such a giant tree? Something must be afoot!
And the ones I have previously devoured over the festive holiday
When the Christmas movies start, you can usually find me on a Sunday afternoon, cuddled up watching a festive film. If however none take my fancy, I will delve into a book and The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts is a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form! When Kiley finds an enchanted snow globe while antique hunting, a magical story results.
My last two selections are quite the polar opposite of those I have mentioned so far. Twelve Deaths of Christmas by Jackson Sharp does exactly what it says on the tin – a police procedural set in the dead of winter. And to whet your horror appetite, we have NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (this also makes my ‘Scary Reads’ list so is a twofer when it comes to book selections for this time of year). Who doesn’t want to spend these dark nights being scared?
Of course, it’s not all about romance novels, scary reads and gritty crime novels. There’s a wealth of Christmas-related non-fiction on our shelves too. There are numerous festive cook books for all tastes, whether you are going traditional with Mary Berry, looking for Christmas baking ideas or catering for varying diets around your Christmas table. Similarly, if you’re feeling crafty and are making your Christmas presents, you can find plenty of inspiration on our craft shelves. If I had the skills, I would definitely make use of Knit your own Christmas Jumper but despite the best efforts of my auntie who tried to teach me to knit, I constantly drop stitches and would end up with a very incomplete jumper! If you have successfully used this book, we’d love to see your efforts!
If the history of the festive period is more your thing then there are quite a few different books to choose from. The Book of Christmas by Christopher Winn explores the stories, myths and legends of the period in a highly readable book that’s easy to dip in and out of. You can’t beat a bit of Pam Ayres to brighten up the dark evenings with her comical poems, while the more peculiar side of family celebrations is explored in A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden . If you fancy a slightly darker read, Bad Santas by Paul Hawkins looks at the murkier side of the holidays, unearthing characters such as Krampus and monstrous Christmas cats, while The Completely Useless guide to Christmas by Martin Pullen is perfect for that trivia you didn’t know you wanted to know about the festive period!
Before I end, have you heard about the Icelandic tradition of ‘Jolabokaflod‘ (‘Yule Book Flood’)? On Christmas Eve, Icelanders gift each other books and then (and this is the best bit) spend the entirety of Christmas Eve evening reading! What book lover could fail to follow that tradition! It’s certainly something that I will be trying to implement in my household this year. Hopefully, here and throughout our posts, we’ve given you plenty of suggestions for your own ‘Jolabokaflod’ so all that’s left is to wish you ‘Happy Reading’ and a very happy festive period.