This story was first published on The Reading Room.
Most of us know the much loved Christmas classics like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Chris van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. Such books are well-loved for a reason: they exemplify the Christmas spirit. Gratitude, gift-giving, family, and snow—these books have them all. Looking for more books to put on your ‘must-reads for Christmas’ list? Whether you revel or cringe in the excitement of wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, and family gatherings, here are some excellent reads that will certainly add to your holiday spirit.
Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
Do you need a wise chuckle this holiday season? This collection of six Christmas stories by Sedaris is holiday-themed, dark humor at its best. The collection includes “Santaland Diaries,” the most popular of the short stories, in which Sedaris recalls working as an elf at Macy’s during Christmas. The story will connect to anyone who has had to work during the bustling holiday. Given Sedaris’s penchant for hilariously dark sarcasm, you are likely to sneer at the ridiculousness that is so often involved with the holidays while reaching for a drink … on ice.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, by Lemony Snicket
This story of a latke, a potato-pancake typical of Hanukkah, running from his fate (being boiled in a vat of hot oil) is a funny and enlightening Christmas story. Well, it isn’t quite about Christmas. Snicket’s character learns about Christmas as well as Hanukkah, a holiday often perceived to be more similar to Christmas than it is. Snicket is sarcastic and funny, and really informative for adults and kids. The book includes iconic Christmas imagery, such as Santa and candy-canes, which actually help to inform the reader about Hanukkah.
A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote
A Christmas Memory is a deep south Christmas tale involving baking a fruitcake, blackberry jelly, moonshine whiskey, and a homey kitchen. Capote’s autobiographical recollection of life as a young boy in rural Alabama is an intricate and touching look at his close relationship with his elderly cousin set in the backdrop of a very special holiday. As a lonely boy in the midst of a nasty custody battle, Capote was saved by a caring relative. Despite their economic despair, they still revel in the joy of Christmas. This short-story embodies the compassion people ought to bestow during Christmas.
The Tailor of Gloucester, by Beatrix Potter
It’s a terribly cold winter for a poor tailor who has a very important job; he must complete a fancy outfit for the Mayor of Gloucester for his wedding on Christmas Day. Time, food, money, and warmth are running low for the tailor, who is also falling ill, and it looks as if he is just too drained to finish the Mayor’s outfit. That is, until a bundle of mice start helping him out who, luckily, have a knack for tailoring. The unlikely friendship will put a wide smile on your face as you warm your feet and your heart by a fireplace.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie
Do you want to read an expertly written Christmas-themed mystery this winter? Who better to turn to than Agatha Christie? Despite the fact that it’s Christmas Eve and there’s a ‘nice’ family reunion happening, the night turns bloody and Poirot must deal with the mystery. It seems only natural that the beloved detective would spend his Christmas trying to figure out which family member killed an ultra-rich, ruthless old man. Christie manages to create a Christmas atmosphere despite the grisly plot. This book is fit for those who love mystery, and unsavoury family reunions.
The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas, by Edward Gorey
This bizarre tale is actually a (morbid) retelling of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Edmund Gravel, Gorey’s take on Scrooge, cuts into a stale fruitcake which prompts a visit from three ghosts who specialize in producing guilt: the Spectre of Christmas That Never Was; the Spectre of Christmas That Isn’t; and, the Spectre of Christmas That Never Will Be. The esoteric book is amusing and hilarious, complete with Gorey’s odd illustrations. This Christmas book will leave you feeling … funky.