Reading Christmas

Guest blogger Paul Grech is busy preparing his Christmas reading pile …

It is, I think, pretty clear that we won’t be celebrating Christmas as usual this year round. There will be none of the usual social and cultural events that normally make this period such a special one. Those who, like me, find themselves with a bunch of leave days that they need to eat up before the end of the year will have to get creative to fill the time.

Of course, one hopes that the weather plays along to allow trips to what’s left of the Maltese countryside. But, given how the rest of 2020 has gone, it will be pouring every day to make sure everyone stays in.

To be completely honest, filling the time won’t be too much of issue for me. Just as I’d imagine it won’t be for anyone else who enjoys reading. There is always more to read than there is time but this year has swept away a lot of the usual distractions making reading one of the few things that we’re actually allowed to do.

Around this time of year I usually pick up an old copy of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol for a re-read. This is a habit driven partly by the story but also the nostalgia that it can evoke. It just feels more like Christmas when I read it.

That is precisely the kind of feeling that I will be needing more of which is why I’ve decided that during December I will only read Christmas-themed books.

And there seems to be quite a rich selection from which to pick. For sure on my to-be-read is The Man Who Invented Christmas which talks about Charles Dickens and how A Christmas Carol actually saved his career as a novelist. There’s also a variant to Dickens’ famous work in the form of Samantha Silva’s Mr Dickens and His Carol.

Someone has recommended A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote whilst The Usual Santas seems quite promising, combining Christmas with crime stories.

To kick off this whole adventure I picked Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris which I would recommend to anyone. Sedaris’ sardonic humour might not be for everyone but it certainly got me. There are a number of memorable snippets to take away from Holidays on Ice but, sadly, none that I can share here …

I realise that what I’m looking to do is find a reading equivalent to the Hallmark Christmas movies. Indeed I happen to be quite a big fan of these too, and the comfort that they tend to deliver with their simple, cookie-cutter stories. You know what is going to happen and for a few moments you get to believe that everything will be all right with the world.

Frankly, with the year that we’ve had, I’ll gladly take that.

P.S. – Any Christmas-themed books I should have on my list? Let me know!


Page photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Paul Grech is an avid reader particularly of sports, sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction books. He is also a writer as well as the publisher of Paġna Mmarkata, a magazine (that is also a bookmark) of original Maltese writing.