What kind of festive reader are you? Do you get to November, clear out your TBR pile and re-fill it with every Christmas Romance that you can find? Or maybe Cowboys in Christmas hats are not your style and you prefer instead a nice Christmas Mystery or Scary Crime? I believe there is even a Christmas Horror genre, although all the volumes I have ever stumbled across have just added the word ‘Zombie’ to the title of an existing Classic (‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ for example).
Many people enjoy re-reading Children’s books that they remember from childhood or that they read with their children at Christmas. Others like to take the opportunity to catch up on all the books they have not had a chance to read that year or work through various prize winning books from the past 12 months. I have to confess that December is the month in which I read the least; too many other things on my mind. When I do pick up a book, it is always a trusty favourite (aka comfort reading).
Books are, of course, a great gift to both give and receive – it will come as no surprise to learn that everyone in my household will be receiving at least three books each this Christmas! I am hopeful that I will receive the Folio edition of Howls’ Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (just in case Santa is reading this!!!)
If you are looking for some seasonal inspiration then I have some recommendations for you.
I mentioned Christmas Crime so I wouldn’t want to disappoint – here’s one I wouldn’t mind reading. I think this falls into the Cosy Crime category and might also be a Comfort Read…
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man…
Sticking with the Crime theme, here’s another that might prove easier to digest if you have a lot on your mind and prefer a short story or two:
A Very Murderous Christmas by various authors including Margery Allingham, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.
The Christmas season is one of comfort and joy, sparkling lights and steam rising from cups of mulled wine at frosty carol services. A season of goodwill to all men, as families and friends come together to forget their differences and celebrate the year together. Unless, of course, you happen to be harbouring a grudge. Or hiding a guilty secret. Or you want something so much you just have to have it – whatever the cost. In A Very Murderous Christmas, ten of the best classic crime writers come together to unleash festive havoc, with murder, mayhem and twists aplenty. Following Murder on Christmas Eve and Murder under the Christmas Tree, this is the perfect accompaniment to a mince pie and a roaring fire. Just make sure you’re really, truly alone …
Changing the scene completely now, we’ll skip on to ye olde Christmas Romance, of which there are seemingly a million! Here’s one that has a cheery cover and might just be your perfect festive light read partner!
The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts
Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites. From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream. The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart?
I am listing the next one on a technicality as it has Christmas scenes within! This always reminds me of Christmas and the film adaptation means that I can read it and think of the lovely Colin Firth – win, win. Not Pride and Prejudice (although now that I have mentioned it, it does fit the Cosy Read criteria!), I am of course referring to none other than Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary
Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could: a. lose 7 pounds b. stop smoking c. develop Inner Poise”123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)…”
Bridget Jones’ Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget’s permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.
Switching gear again, how about something more wintery – Winter An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
Winter is a withdrawal: quiet and dark and cold. But in the dim light frost shimmers, stars twinkle and hearths blaze as we come together to keep out the chill. In spite of the season, life persists: visiting birds fill our skies, familiar creatures find clever ways to survive, and the world reveals winter riches to those willing to venture outdoors.
In prose and poetry spanning seven hundred years, Winter delights in the brisk pleasures and enduring beauty of the year’s turning. Featuring new writing from Patrick Barkham, Satish Kumar and Anita Sethi, extracts from the work of Robert Macfarlane, James Joyce and Kathleen Jamie, and a range of exciting new voices from across the UK, this invigorating collection evokes the joys and the consolations of this magical time of year.
If you fancy a step away from the festive theme then this one may be for you – Wintering: How I learned to flourish when life became frozen by Katherine May
‘A peaceful rebuff to life in fast-forward’ Observer
Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely and deeply painful.
In Wintering, Katherine May recounts her own year-long journey through winter, sparked by a sudden illness in her family that plunged her into a time of uncertainty and seclusion. When life felt at is most frozen, she managed to find strength and inspiration from the incredible wintering experiences of others as well as from the remarkable transformations that nature makes to survive the cold.
Here’s one that is on my TBR pile and sticks with the winter theme, The Snow Song by Sally Gardner
A spellbinding fable for adults from the award-winning and bestselling author, Sally Gardner. ‘This heartbreaking, brilliantly written novel is the most original publication for years’ The Times on Sally Gardner From an award-winning author, whose books have sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.
Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all. Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her. As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.
One of my colleagues gets very excited about Christmas books and so I am adding this one just for her as I think this is an author that she likes and I couldn’t find a suitable Cowboy Christmas title!
Christmas in Seattle by Debbie Macomber
Perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy’ – Candis
Celebrate Christmas with Debbie Macomber! Christmas Letters: Katherine O’Connor often spends her days at a cosy café on Blossom Street, writing Christmas letters for other people. She’s good at making everyday lives sound more interesting. For Dr. Wynn Jeffries, the festive season means lies and deception. But Katherine and Wynn soon discover that Christmas is all about celebrating the things you share. . .
The Perfect Christmas: Cassie, at thirty-three, wants a husband and, so far, nothing’s worked. Not blind dates, not the internet and certainly not leaving love to chance. What’s left? Professional matchmaker Simon Dodson. Claiming he has her Mr. Right in mind, Simon assigns Cassie three Christmas tasks to complete before she meets him. But is Cassie really ready to meet her perfect match?
Make time for friends. Make time for Debbie Macomber.
Alas, we have come to the end of my little festive(ish) foray. Feel free to let me know in the comments or pop over to Twitter and let me know what you’ll be reading this Christmas!