Christmas is coming. Which means, to borrow a now much-used meme, you’ll be one of two types of people. Personally, I start out as a bit of a Theoden as I have a November birthday and no one is allowed to mention the C-word until that’s all done and dusted. Get past that and into December however, and I’m one jingle bell away from being an elf and a current away from becoming a mince pie all the way to the New Year.
So it’s a bit surprising that I’ve never much been into Christmas reading. I mean, I read at Christmas but I’ve never gone in for Christmas-themed books in the way that I like to read a ghost story at Halloween or something set in a far-away (preferably sunny) land in the summertime. In the last couple of years this has all changed however and I’ve definitely noticed that my reading has become more ‘themed’ to the seasons, including Christmas. So, as the season of joy and goodwill to all men is nearly upon us, I thought I would share some of the books making my December/Christmas reading list this year.
I do like to snuggle up with a good crime novel during the winter months – although I’m more of a classic and cosy fan than anything involving alcoholic detectives and dismembered body parts. Last year I very much enjoyed Jill McGown’s Murder at the Old Vicarage which is set during a snowy Christmas and provides a Christie-like mystery with some thoroughly un-cosy twists and turns. The novel is a bit of a forgotten gem for crime fans but has recently been re-issued by Pan Macmillan with a very pretty Christmas-themed cover and a seasonal subtitle. It’s the second book in McGown’s series of novels about Chief Inspector Lloyd and Sergeant Judy Hill – although I had no trouble in picking it up without having read the first in the series.
This year, Pan Macmillan are continuing the trend with Murder in Advent by David Williams, another re-issue (this time from 1985) complete with pretty snow-scene cover, which sees some sinister skulduggery going on in the cathedral town of Litchester when their proposed sale of a 1225 copy of the Magna Carta results in the murder of the verger and the burning of the ecclesiastical library. All of which sounds right up my street! I’m also going to be picking up the latest in the Wells & Wong series of YA mysteries by Robyn Young, which is entitled Mistletoe and Murder and promises to continue the series traits of sleuthing schoolgirls, ingenious plot twists and festive delights. To round off the Christmas crime, I’ve also set aside one of the British Library Crime Classics series, Mystery in White by J Jefferson Farjeon, which features a Christmas Eve train journey halted by heavy snow, a mysteriously deserted country house and a murderer in the midst. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the book, originally published in 1937, so Christmas seems a good excuse to finally indulge.
For a more light-hearted read, I have been lent John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, a slim volume that has since been turned into a film ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ and sees the erstwhile Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip Christmas and set off on a luxurious Caribbean cruise over the festive season. As they soon realise however, skipping Christmas has unintended consequences and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. This sounds like a lot of fun and may be a much-needed respite when the hectic frenzy of eating, drinking and making merry starts to get a little much!
Christmas 2016 will also hopefully find me finally finishing Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials‘ trilogy by reading The Amber Spyglass, the last in the series of epic novels that relate the universe-traversing adventures of Lyra Belaqua and her friend Will Parry. This isn’t exactly a Christmas book per-se but there’s something about the setting (much of the first book takes place in the Arctic Circle) and the magic of it all that makes it a book that’s perfect for snuggling up with at this time of year.
Lastly, but by no means least, the festive season is a good time for old-favourites. I do like to commence my annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings at this time of year but, for a slight change, have opted this year to listen to the excellent unabridged audiobooks read by Rob Inglis. He has a lovely, calming voice that really brings out the charm of Tolkien’s writing and his Gandalf is absolutely spot on. And continuing with classics, my mum bought me a gorgeous illustrated edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol some years ago which I always re-read in the days before Christmas. I find Dickens a difficult writer to get on with sometimes but there’s something so timeless about the story of Scrooge – it practically invented Christmas as we know it and never fails to get me in the mood for the holidays. I combine it with watching A Muppet Christmas Carol which I will always maintain to be the ultimate in Christmas films.
And that, folks, is what I plan to be doing on my holidays! Or at least, reading when I get the change in between the hectic round of writing cards, wrapping and delivering presents, preparing food and ensuring everyone’s glasses remain full of their chosen festive tipple. What will you be reading this holiday season? Do you read seasonal books or just treat the Christmas holidays as an opportunity to catch up on your usual TBR? As always, let me know in the comments down below or find me on Twitter @amyinstaffs or over on Litsy @ShelfofUnreadBooks. And, until the next time….
Happy Reading! x