A short list of festive reads, most of which are candy for the brain, but after all, it’s Christmas!
Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson
I read Let It Snow last year during the Christmas holiday, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I had read John Green’s other, less popular, books – An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson Will Grayson – and not been impressed. But Looking For Alaska was such a blessing that I thought I’d take a chance. It’s a collaboration, written by three authors –John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. Yet instead of this giving a fragmented feel to the book, I found it to be quite in-keeping with British Christmastime; diverse but inclusive. It’s split into three short romantic stories from each author and a few characters from each novella make ‘guest appearances’ in the other two stories, which is fun. Whilst this book is perhaps a little too easy to plough through, being written with young adults in mind, I devoured it like a chocolate from my advent calendar and maintain that nobody is too old to enjoy either. I haven’t really given much away, but all three stories are short and sweet; a perfect read for a busy Christmas.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
My mother is in love with Colin Firth, so I have watched Bridget Jones one too many times. However, reading the book allowed me to imagine a slightly different, more satisfactory Darcy. I have decided that Bridget Jones and I are so alike its uncanny, so when reading the book, it’s quite easy to imagine myself in her black (probably M&S) granny pants, somehow ending up with a great man. Therefore, reading this book gave me the hope I needed during the Christmas period – that I too still have a shot at finding ’ardent’ love. Plus, it’s funny, so give it a go.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli
This one’s not old, but it definitely is gold.
As you may have come to realise, so far, this list has been dominated by romances. This is because I consider myself to be a romantic. However, I’m also a feminist, and this is a book that is ground breaking. It offers empowering, fun stories that read like your typical bedtime story, just featuring approximately zero damsels in distress. It’s in the running for the Waterstones’ ‘Book of the Year’ award and it’s easy to see why: not only does it contain a multitude of lovely stories, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to read, as it’s proof of how far society has come since the days when little girls went to sleep dreaming of prince charming coming to rescue them. If you were one of these little girls, then I would strongly recommend this tale, but If you were anything like me, you already know, with thanks to Shrek 2, that ‘Charming’ isn’t all he’s made out to be.
Yes, this list has both Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Bible on it. I am not suggesting you go away over the holidays and read the Bible, but over Christmas I do find it worthwhile, even as a non-Christian, to read one or two renown Bible quotations, and just reflect. This is a practice I have come to find incredibly comforting during the Christmas season.
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Whether you’re religious or not, you must admit that assurance is always good to hear.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Whilst Christmas is a wonderful time of year and returning home after a lengthy term might seem like the ideal escape, the odds are you’ve forgotten the reality that is: some families are stressful (if yours isn’t then you’re one incredibly lucky son of a nutcracker). If reading is your source of refuge from the festive drama, then this one’s for you. Haig tackles his past issues candidly in this memoir that is a reminder to anyone struggling that they’re not alone and there’s hope for us all. Written with thoughtful insight and wit; Reasons To Stay Alive is a perfect read if your spirit needs reviving.
– by Layla Hanif
*Images courtesy of goodreads.com