Pick your Christmas read!

Your Christmas is a…

… Family christmas
It’s Christmas, and this means good will to all men. Which, in turn, means a bigger family gathering than even that raucous summer wedding in 2009. Not only do you have to put up with your brother for the whole day but you also have Mum, Dad, Gran, Aunt Mabel and her dodgy new boyfriend, eight second-cousins-twice-removed and a learing “Uncle” to entertain. Goodwill to all men and all that, but sometimes you wonder if Mum’s address book needs a clear out. Escape from the hordes of relatives and curl up with John Mortimer’s Paradise Postponed – a cutting, tongue-in-cheek tale of social disruption and class ridicule. It also works as a wonderful consolation read – even after a sherry your mum will never be as bad as Grace, and your Christmas presents are a comforting indication that your Dad hasn’t left all his money to a slimy Conservative MP.

… White christmas
We live in the U.K., so when I say “White Christmas”, I’m obviously implying you have jetted off to the Alps for a Christmas of skiing.
‘Tis the season to be middle-class, indeed. You hum Bing Crosby to yourself and gaze out the window at the impossible brilliance of a world coated in the purest white, then plummet down the side of a mountain dressed like an Inuit Where’s Wally. You have no need for books! Until, that is, you consider the high possibility of injury.
And, while I am not at all insinuating that you might (might) end up sitting with your leg in a cast, wishing you had something you could READ, it might be helpful just to bring a book in case. That book should definitely, definitely, be Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson.
Somewhat of a legend among climbers and mountaineers, Simpson’s Touching the Void tells the true story of Simpson’s attempt to climb the – previously unclimbed – West Face of Siula Grande, a mountain in Peruvian Andes. After a climbing disaster, Simpson is left dangling off a cliff, tied to his friend. If the other man does not cut the rope, they will both die. Extremely tense, and mind-blowingly intense, this is a tale of two friends pushed to the utmost limit of human capability, both physical and mental. There is truly nothing better to remind you of the awesome power of the stunning nature around you.

… Party christmas
You’re that guy who gets so merry on Christmas Eve that he can’t stomach his turkey the following day. Your mum is cross, your dad is disappointed (if only because he cooked the turkey) and your Gran is still trying to give you a brandy anyway, the smell of which… well, let’s not put everyone off their dinner. Instead, take some time out from disrupting the neighbours every night and conk out with Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. Gripping and gritty by turns, seething with hatred and oozing with sin, this harrowing tale of a Scottish gang of heroin addicts will put you right off going out, and instead encourage you to tuck yourself into bed with a hot chocolate for 7:30.
All in time for Santa Claus to work his magic, with any luck.

… Holiday christmas
Unable to deal with yet another rainy day, you are jetting off to somewhere HOT. Be it Barbados or Barcelona, Christmas here is different. With very few fir trees, suitcase-appropriate presents and absolutely no need for a turkey, tradition is out the window and you can really relax. Rather than a read you can snuggle up with, you want a book you can stretch-out on the beach with, sunning yourself to within an inch of your life in a technique you learnt from the turkey in the oven last year. For this, I give you A Dark Enchantment by Roland Vernon. Set in a scorching summer in the countryside of Greece, A Dark Enchantment will get you hot under the collar with its tale of Godwin Tudor, a young English photographer who gets caught in the web of shady Edgar Brooke, a wealthy landowner, and enchanted by his beautiful daughter Lydia. The perfect read to unwrap on the beach.


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