This morning, Elizabeth Eckhart shares some new and old classics of this holiday season. I was thrilled to see that Mom’s favorite, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever made the list, and I might just have to finally spend some time with Little Women this week. I think you’ll see her list has a little something no matter your reading taste. Check it out, and let us know your favorites.
In this busy time of year, there are precious few moments to sit down with a book. But the holidays don’t have to mean constant mad scrambles to get meals and events organized. A great book is a portal into a more peaceful place, taking you away from the stressful aspects of the holidays. The following books, both classics and newer releases, will help get you in the holiday spirit, and keep you rejuvenated into the New Year.
A Christmas Carol
In many ways the grandfather of modern Christmas stories, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol came out during an era that generated the traditions we still maintain today. Concerned with the plight of the poor, Dickens depicted a family right on the brink. In stark contrast to this, Mr. Scrooge lives to count his money and has grown embittered toward the rest of humankind. This holiday tale tells how this miser came back to revere the true values of the season through a harrowing series of encounters.
Louisa May Alcott’s perennially popular book actually opens with its main characters, four young women, debating what to do about gifts for Christmas. The book encompasses the entire lives of the four women; following them from girlhood through to love, marriage and the trials of adulthood. This novel has been adapted for the screen on multiple occasions, the most famous iteration being the 1933 version of the classic – stream it here or on Amazon – which features Katharine Hepburn as tomboy Jo March. The plot’s concerns of how we treat others and the meaning of adulthood and family invoke thoughts and reflections that many of us have during the holidays.
If you have ever reached the point of wanting to abandon the idea of Christmas entirely, you should consider reading John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas. Grisham, the master of suspense, took a rather different stylistic turn with this book. In it, he imagines a couple trying to get away from the holidays and all their trappings. Getting away, though, proves more difficult than it might seem. A Caribbean cruise calls our protagonists away, but the Christmas-industrial-complex has other plans.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
For a light and quirky look at Christmas traditions, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has few rivals. Author Barbara Robinson toys with the conventions of Christmas pageants, contrasting the ideals of the holiday with the outrageous antics of the actors charged with performing. Children and adults alike will identify with the characters and their comical mistakes, while readers of all ages will understand the important lessons the characters learn along the way. The novel has also been adapted for a television audience, in 1983’s made-for-TV rendition.
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances
A collection of three different stories, Let It Snow contains John Green’s charming and contemporary holiday piece, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle. The story delves into teen melodrama set during the Christmas season without getting overly mushy. The other two stories, written by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, involve the same characters stories told from different perspectives, giving readers a 360 degree view of these teens’ lives.
Best Books to Curl Up with on Christmas Eve
The Princess Present
In this installment of The Princess Diaries, known as Volume VI and a Half, author Meg Cabot pits her protagonist, Mia, against the eternally elusive perfect Christmas present. In her quest to woo her beau with the best Christmas gift ever, she has to learn how to host parties and charm guests. The stressed out princess’ troubles will hit close to home for many readers, or at the very least elicit a few laughs.
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Another winding narrative that encompasses a man’s entire life, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany takes readers through the more spiritual elements of the season. While not focused exclusively on Christmas or the holidays, Owen Meany grapples with the issues that people contemplate as the year winds down.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming
Children have known about Lemony Snicket for years. The successful film adaptations of his work have brought adults around to his playful storytelling style. In this wistful holiday tale, a latke escapes fate in the frying pan and tries to spread the word about Hanukkah to unwelcoming Christmas-related inanimate objects to hilarious effect.
Holidays on Ice
Made famous by The Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris specializes in weaving wry humor into mundane experiences. Holidays on Ice opens up his world through his dark, insightful lens. These non-fiction essays put the odd, slightly discomfiting aspects of the holidays under the microscope and poke fun at them. After reading this particular tale you’ll never look at department store Santas (and their elves) in the same way again.
The Snow Queen
Hans Christian Andersen single-handedly penned a large number of the traditional stories we love today. The Snow Queen has inspired movies, television shows and other works of fiction around the world. The story takes place in a wintry landscape and pits the main characters against a series of challenges representing the tension and conflict between good and evil.
Which of these do you love? Any that are new to you?
Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment blogger who was born and raised in Chicago. She loves books slightly more than films, and is almost always disappointed with the big screen versions of her favorite novels (then again, who isn’t?). She can be followed on Twitter at @elizeckhart.