We’ve had festive films, festive television and festive food, and so now it’s time for us to turn our attention to one final cultural hit: festive reads.
A good Christmas story has the power to make you feel as if you are there, celebrating the season with the characters. It can transform your outlook, turning you from a Scrooge-wannabe into the most goodwill-bearing creature on the Earth.
Anyway, enough of our rambling. Here are our favourite festive books – and if you’re quick, there’s still time for you to read one or two of them before the 25th!
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Arguably the world’s best-known Christmas tale, this evocative story is archetypal of Dickens’ dark humour. A whirlwind exploration of Victorian principles, the Christmas-hating Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts during Christmas Eve night. But will the visions they present to him change his outlook? We also love it because of Tiny Tim: ‘God bless us, everyone!’
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
”Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug…’ So begins Louisa May Alcott’s novel, chronicling the various adventures of the March sisters and their mother as they wait for their father to return from fighting in the Civil War. However, despite a distinct lack of funding, the March girls still manage to have a rather nice Christmas, culminating in the family gathering around the piano for a good old sing-song.
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Now, TYC has a bit of a bone to pick with this book. When we first picked it up, we were expecting it to be solely about Cold Comfort Farm, and Christmas. Judging by the title, is that so much to expect? However, the two Christmas-sy stories in the book (only one is set on Cold Comfort Farm, and it is hilar) are written in Stella Gibbons’ characteristically bright, sparky tone, and her eye for social oddities is as strong as in her other novels concerning the Starkadder family.
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
The classic cartoon, which inspired the film and made children across the world wish that their snowmen would come alive at night, too. Pure magic, although the ending is rather sad.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Susan Wojciechowski and Patrick J. Lynch
When TYC read this book as a child, it made us cry. The story of reclusive old widower (and woodworker) Jonathan Toomey, this beautifully illustrated book captures his transformation from devestated to uplifted as he helps a small child craft his own nativity set. The stunning pictures on each page make it truly remarkable, and if you are able to read it without crying, we take our hats off to you.
The Night Before Christmas – Clement Clarke Moore
Bit of an old classic, really, and TYC prides itself on being able to quote the whole of the first two lines. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…’
Comfort and Joy – India Knight
Times’ columnist India Knight has a wicked way with words, and so this modern Christmas tale is perfect for those of you who are looking for something a little more modern. However, this is no easy read – there are two shopping days left until Christmas, and protagonist Clara has to negotiate presents, families and cooking Christmas dinner, none of which is made any easier by an unwanted distraction…
Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien
From the pen of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien comes this magical book. Each Christmas, Tolkien’s children would receive letters from the North Pole, written by Father Christmas. The book presents the whole collection of letters, featuring drawings, wishes and everything inbetween (including an accident-prone Polar Bear). Utterly gorgeous – and the book presents an entirely different side to Tolkien.
Which books would you add to the list?