By Andrés Muñoz
It always amazes me how fast the year goes by. One moment, you’re planning your summer holidays and basking in the sun. Next, you’re looking for presents, hearing Christmas carols everywhere, and spending time with your loved ones. With so much activity and things going on, do you ever have time to read?
Absolutely! The hustle and bustle behind the holiday season should not be an excuse to set your books aside. While we will look at some of the perennial classics associated with this time of year, I’d like to recommend a few upcoming titles so that you may spend more time reading amazing stories and less time watching Love Actually for the 90th time.
A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens
“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” -Ebenezer Scrooge
No holiday reading list should miss this absolute classic by Charles Dickens. Published in 1843, A Christmas Carol is the quintessential seasonal redemption story. The greedy Ebenezer Scrooge meets the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmases’ Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Through these encounters, Scrooge sees the error of his ways and eventually becomes a less selfish and more caring man. Hundreds of adaptations of this vintage tale exist nowadays, and the story has helped define the spirit of Christmas.
Fun fact: it has never been out of print since its first publication.
The Holiday Swap By Maggie Knox
What would happen if you took The Parent Trap and mixed it with The Holiday? The Holiday Swap is a similar take but with an entertaining twist. It tells the story of identical twins Charlotte “Charlie” and Cass. Charlie is a judge in a reality cooking show, so when she hits her head and loses her sense of taste and smell, she asks her twin to switch places during the holiday season.
Cass sees it as an opportunity to escape her home in the mountains and her own problems.
Although the tale is somewhat predictable, the twin switcheroo is a fun story to disconnect from everything and prep you for the holiday season.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas By Dr Seuss
Another time-honoured classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is surprisingly based on Theodor “Dr Seuss” Geisel himself! Geisel’s feelings concerning his wife’s ill health at the time and the mass commercialisation of the season inspired the story. Imagine Dr Seuss’s surprise if he lived now instead of during the post-war economic boom!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas has also been adapted several times—the most famous one being the Hollywood production starring Jim Carrey as the title character.
It’s the first Dr Seuss book where the main character was an adult and the story’s villain. It has sunk into popular culture so much that the word “Grinch” has surpassed “Scrooge” as someone who hates Christmas.
Absynthe By Brendan Bellecourt
While not a Christmas book per se, Absynthe hit bookshelves in December 2021 and can help you disconnect from everything if your “Grinch” side pops up! This sci-fi story is Brendan Bellecourt’s debut novel. Set in an alternate Roaring Twenties, it tells the story of Liam Mulcahey, a shell-shocked soldier who remembers little about his time during the Great War.
That is until he survives an attack at a speakeasy in Chicago and meets Grace, a woman who can cast telepathic illusions.
Little by little, Liam remembers his war experience as a squad member that was given a special serum that granted them telepathic powers. His discoveries force him to face the demons of his past and his former commander while encountering new enemies along the way.
Smile And Look Pretty By Amanda Pellegrino
Another debut novel, this patriarchy-smashing story dives deep into the toxic environments of the entertainment industry. Kate, Lauren, Olivia, and Max are all assistants to influential executives. They face harsh working conditions, low wages, and daily abuse, spurring them to take action and create an anonymous blog about their working conditions.
As the blog becomes more and more famous, other people start coming out with experiences of their own, forcing the four assistants to reevaluate their role in this uprising.
The premise of Amanda Pellegrino’s story reminds me of my time as an intern in the entertainment industry (I still remember how the CEO of the company I worked for liked his coffee!) and the shakeup the whole industry experienced after the #metoo movement.
There you have it! A healthy mix of Christmas classics and upcoming releases to cater to your reading desires during the holiday season. What other books do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below!
I called my son Jacob Marley after my favourite childhood book, A Christmas Carol. Will have to download the others to my kindle and get reading them. Thanks for the recommendations Andrės!