For me, Christmas is a time to get lots of reading done: in bed, on the bus, or sitting on the sofa with my family. This year was no exception and I managed to read this lovely selection. From bottom left as seen in the above picture:
1. The Dark Is Rising – Susan Cooper
A children’s book that I never got around to reading as a child, I was inspired to read this by Twitter, where a Christmas read-along is happening using the hashtag #TheDarkIsReading. I haven’t actually checked out the hash tag much, but I’ve enjoyed the book, which begins on Midwinter’s Eve and comes to an end on Twelfth Night.
2. Bad Santas and Other Creepy Christmas Characters – Paul Hawkins
I’ve really got into Christmas history and folklore in recent years and this book is a fascinating look at some of the darker traditions and characters from years gone by, as well as thoroughly exploring the difference between Santa Claus and Father Christmas. My favourite creature is probably Krampus, but I also have a fondness for Iceland’s Christmas cat, who eats any children who do not get clothes for Christmas.
3. Murder on Christmas Eve: Classic Mysteries for the Festive Season – ed. Cecily Gayford
This selection of festive crime stories is great at creating an atmosphere, and I read it on Christmas Eve itself, which added to the magic.
4. The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and Other Stories from the North – ed. Sjón
This was the only book I was a bit disappointed by. I love Nordic noir and I thought this collection of short stories might include crime tales, or else horror or folklore stories. However, with the exception of one story by Per Olov Enquist I found the collection to be slightly dull, with many of the stories too opaque for me.
5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Stories – Lewis Carroll
I got this as a Christmas present several years ago, but never got round to reading the whole thing. I’m familiar with the Alice stories and I love them, and The Hunting of the Snark is quite good fun. However, Sylvie and Bruno is very confusing and the two titular characters are supremely irritating – Sylvie is a typical Victorian angelic little girl, while Bruno speaks in an infuriatingly childish manner which I think is supposed to be cute but comes across as rather annoying. Much of Lewis Carroll’s work was written for his scholarly contemporaries, and has little interest for me, though there was a section on letter-writing full of good advice which I think I would do well to take.
6. Harry Potter: A History of Magic
I got this book for Christmas – a beautiful hardback published to coincide with the British Library Harry Potter exhibition.
7. Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales – P.D. James
I haven’t read much P.D. James, but these short stories make me want to read more of her work. Along with the collection The Mistletoe Murder, which I read earlier in December, it shows that James was the master of the short story form, and the tales are clever, atmospheric, unexpected and sometimes very funny.
What did you read over Christmas?