‘Tis the season to curl up on the couch with a good book and put to rest all the stress of 2020. As another year draws to a close and the holiday seasons is around the corner, now is a good time to indulge in a festive escapism.
It’s time to heck the halls with boughs of holly and pick up one of Carry A Book’s favourite Christmas stories. Whether you’re looking to revisit childhood classics, explore gripping yuletide thrillers or embrace timeless classical texts, we’ve got all corners covered.
The Greatest Gift by Phillip Van Doren Stern
Few fans of the Oscar-winning classic It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) are aware that Phillip Van Doren Stern’s short story inspired the film. In this evocative yet heartwarming text, Van Doren Stern offers readers a chance to see the world through a fresh set of eyes as he tells the story of George, who, on Christmas Eve, wishes that he had never been born.
George’s wish is granted by a stranger and soon after, he able to see what life for his friends and family would be like without him. This novel is beautifully illustrating the importance of each individual and reminding readers of life’s greatest gift to us all.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
An all-time perennial favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas follows the story of an angry, green-clad creature living on a mountain overlooking the Christmas-obsessed town of Whoville. Overcome with hatred for the holiday, the Grinch decides to unleash his animosity by stealing every gift in the entire town in the hopes of ruining Christmas for all its inhabitants.
In this subtle exposure of greed and commercialism, the true spirit of the holiday season practically leaps off the pages of the book with its heartfelt promotion of the timeless values of love and community through wit, humor, and flawless rhymes.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This iconic coming-of-age story by Louisa May Alcott begins on Christmas Eve, 1861, and follows the lives of four sisters as they revisit some of the most defining moments of their adolescence. Alcott invites readers to be a part of the March family; a warm, funny and lively household awaiting the return of their father from the war amidst genteel poverty.
Despite their adversities, the sisters strive to make the most of the holiday season. This sentimental tale of haves and have nots ends as it began: with another Christmas that perfectly illustrates the simple magic of home festivities with our nearest and dearest.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published in 1843, this immediate bestseller has endured the test of time and remains a popular Christmas favorite for many. From Dickens’ heartwarming celebration of Christmas comes the tale of kindness, charity, and goodwill as protagonist and stingy millionaire Ebenezer Scrooge is visited four ghosts who strive to thaw his frozen heart.
Dickens’ flare for characters gives us the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, who articulate to Scrooge, and to us readers, the true meaning of Christmas.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s seasonal mystery thriller is hailed as a welcome interruption to the festive season. The page-turning novel follows the Lee family, who are joined by detective Hercule Poirot as they celebrate Christmas in their family home.
After a sudden crash of furniture and a spine-chilling scream is heard, the group is shocked to find old patriarch Simeon Lee lying in a pool of his own blood. Poirot, who initially offers to help the family search for the murderer, soon finds himself in entangled in a tense web of suspicion.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This universally acclaimed tale has become a Christmas classic, most notably for its eerie snow-covered settings and magical atmosphere. Following the journey of four siblings who are evacuated from London during WW2, they are soon unexpectedly transplanted into the strange parallel universe of Narnia, wherein it is “always winter but never Christmas”.
Lewis eloquently lays out an adventure for the ages, where the four siblings are forced to overcome their differences if they stand any chance of defeating the evil White Witch and overturning a wretched perpetual winter.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
In a semi-fictionalized account of his own childhood, Capote constructs a tender and bittersweet tale of enduring friendship, quickly becoming a modern-day Christmas classic. Published in 1956, the short story revolves around seven-year-old Buddy and his unlikely friendship with his cousin, a woman much older than he.
Too broke to buy gifts, the two revisit their fondest memories of beloved holiday rituals as they make fruitcakes from scratch.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
In the realm of children’s Christmas books, you will be hard-pressed to find a book that tops Allsburg’s Polar Express, so much so that it led to the animated movie released in 2004. Initially published in 1985, the book follows a young boy, who, on Christmas Eve, is awoken to the unexpected sound of a train running right past his bedroom window.
This train turns out to be heading for the North Pole, where the boy soon finds himself once he has climbed aboard. This best-selling picture book is worthy of sharing with the whole family this holiday season.
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
Imagine writing to Father Christmas and actually getting a reply! For more than twenty years, Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his children under the guise of Father Christmas. Every Christmas, an envelope would arrive addressed to Tolkien’s children and bearing a stamp from the North Pole.
Inside would be a handwritten letter comprised of a range of captivating stories, each accompanied by lively illustrations of, say, the accident-prone Polar Bear climbing the North Pole only to fall face first through the roof of Father Christmas’s home, or reindeers breaking loose and wreaking havoc with freshly wrapped presents.
Whether fourteen or forty years old, no reader will fail to be charmed by the inventive storytelling of Tolkien’s compilation of letters.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A slightly less traditional holiday read, this classic work of gothic fiction nonetheless centers around scenes of Christmas and teaches readers lessons in passion, morality, and humanity. The novel follows Heathcliff, an orphaned gypsy boy, as he is adopted into the wealthy Earnshaw family, where he befriends daughter Catherine.
The two form a bond that quickly evolves from childhood friendship to teenage entanglement, but when Catherine opts to marry a man of higher social status, an unruly chain of events is set in motion, riddled with jealousy, revenge, and bitterness.