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A&E >  Books

Water Cooler: Holiday reads

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 8, 2020

Sometimes a book and a cozy place to read it can be the best things during a difficult winter.  (Pixabay)
Sometimes a book and a cozy place to read it can be the best things during a difficult winter. (Pixabay)

Nothing encapsulates holiday romance more than cozying up indoors with the dormant, outside world in view of a frosty window. Add a steaming beverage, an enchanting book and a fireplace to that, and you’re well on your way to conjuring some holiday spirit.

If you need a suggestion for an inspiring Christmastime read, here are a few to try. And if you’re in need of a fireplace, hopefully you can make due with a space heater and an hourslong HD video of someone else’s crackling fire on YouTube. At least you won’t have to take a break from reading to throw another log on.

“The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories,” edited by Tara Moore (2016) – If you’d like to add something a bit eerie to the holiday season, try out this collection of ghost stories that were culled from 19th-century periodicals with authors ranging from the well-known to the forgotten.

“Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, ” by Gregory Maguire (2017) – Another spinoff of classic tales from the author of “Wicked.” This telling of the nutcracker story follows the mysterious one-eyed toymaker, Drosselmeier.

“Village Christmas,” by Laurie Lee (2016) – Lyrical essays focused on the author’s childhood home in Cotswold, England explore moving stories and traditions of the area.

“Christmas in London,” by Anita Hughes (2017) – A charming Christmas love story set on the romantic streets of London. A New York City baker who is taken on an adventure across the pond by a gorgeous cooking show producer.

“A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens (1843) – This is a classic choice, and as well as you may already know the story, it’s worth revisiting in its original form. It’s resonant themes, Victorian prose and low page count, make it a quintessential and quick holiday read.

“The Snow Queen,” by Hans Christian Andersen (1844) – This original Danish fairy tale was part of the inspiration behind the character Queen Elsa of “Frozen.” It centers on the struggle between good and evil as it follows two friends, Gerda and Kay.

“Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm,” by Stella Gibbons (1940) – A collection of nostalgic and witty 16 short stories centered around the Starkadder family as they prepare for Christmas dinner, which unfortunately includes a dismal Christmas pudding.

“A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories,” compiled and edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas (2018) – Featuring stories written by African American authors between 1880 and 1953, compiled by Collier-Thomas, a scholar of African American women’s history. The stories deal with faith and love, as well as violence, racism and poverty.

“The Twelve Birds of Christmas,” by Stephen Moss (2019) – Explore the culture, history and folklore of the birds in the classic song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” as well as other Christmas carols.

“Letters From Father Christmas,” by J.R.R. Tolkien (1976) – A beautiful work for both adults and children, this book is filled with letters Tolkien wrote to his children each Christmas, but they are told from the point of view of Father Christmas or sometimes a talking polar bear. The letters are accompanied by charming, vibrant illustrations drawn by Tolkien himself.

“Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer,” by Maya Angelou (2006) – A collection of some of Angelou’s most iconic poems, including “On the Pulse of the Morning,” “Amazing Peace,” “A Brave and Startling Truth,” and “Mother,” that include themes and sentiments hit home for reflecting on the celebrations of holiday season.

“Hercule Poirot’s,” Christmas Agatha Christie (1938) – The Lee’s Christmas Eve family reunion is interrupted by the disturbing sounds of crashing furniture and a wailing scream. A tyrannical member of the family, Simeon Lee, is found dead upstairs, leaving the rest of Christmas with an air of mourning and suspicion.

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