Jasmine Dhesi discusses some of her favourite reads for this time of year…
For a Classic Christmas read: A Christmas Carol
Every classic festive reading list includes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and for good reason. There’s nothing more heart-warming than watching a wretched miser learn the error of his ways and transform into a gentle father-figure. Rich with allegory and reference to Christmas traditions new and old, this is a novella to (re)read if you’re searching for some hope and peace at Christmas. Why not imagine the ghost of your Christmas past, present and future as you read?
For some nostalgia: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
If you enjoyed A Christmas Carol, you’ll surely like to meet Scrooge’s reincarnation: the Grinch. Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch stole Christmas is also the perfect read for those hoping to seek refuge from encroaching deadlines in some childhood nostalgia. Enjoy the stylised illustrations for which Dr Seuss’ books are known, find pleasure in the rhymes which fit so neatly together and share this modern Christmas classic with younger family members. There are even films (How the Grich stole Christmas with Jim Carrey and The Grinch with Benedict Cumberbatch) which bring the Grinch to life should the book leave you wanting more of this endearingly grouchy character.
Although not strictly speaking a Christmas story, the fairy tale is as enchanting as the festive season
For festive foodies: Nigella Christmas
If you’re looking for a more practical read for the festive season, look no further than Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Christmas. Her festive recipe book provides ‘easy-to-follow recipes and reassuring advice’ and is sure to guide you through your Christmas culinary creations with the charm and wit which secures her place as the nation’s favourite domestic goddess.
For an eerie winter-scape: The Snow Queen
My favourite comfort read for Christmas time is Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. I have fond memories of my mum reading this short story to my sister and I in winter. Re-reading it over Christmas in front of our open fireplace with a big mug of hot chocolate can prove to be very soothing indeed. Although not strictly speaking a Christmas story, the fairy tale is as enchanting as the festive season and its Nordic scenes of snow and ice glamorise winter as a mysterious and bewitching season personified through the eponymous Snow Queen herself. If you’re already fed up of the winter weather you’ll surely enjoy the summery ending of this tale.
For an escape to Hogwarts: The Harry Potter series
Harry Potter: the ultimate comfort read. Over 4000 pages of adventure, magic and friendship to last you all four weeks of the Christmas break. Follow Harry through his time at Hogwarts, his lonely summers, his encounters with the dark arts. Stay with the ‘golden trio’ as they grow up together and become increasingly entangled in a war no school-child should face. Admire their strengths, forgive their weaknesses and remember the story long after you’ve put the books down. With plenty of Christmas scenes to enjoy, from Harry’s unexpected joy at being gifted presents during his first Christmas at Hogwarts with Ron to the chilling Christmas Eve Harry and Hermione spend in Godric’s Hollow.
Maybe you should give poetry a try
That book you really want to get round to reading but just haven’t had the time to
If you’re looking forward to Christmas as not only a time for festive spirit but also a chance to take a break from the demands of student life, why not pick up that book that has been gathering dust for months? I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, having loved reading The God of Small Things this summer.
Alternative reads: poetry for a quick read
Can’t suffer the thought of reading this Christmas after having spent all term living among the bookshelves of the library or holed in the corner of a café with the nose in a book? Maybe you should give poetry a try. Either stand-alone poems to pass a quiet moment or poetry collections to read your way through over the holiday could get you in the festive spirit without demanding lots of time. Here are my suggestions, although there are plenty more options out there. If you want a little snow-appreciation, Emily Dickenson’s ‘It sifts from Leaden Sieves’ offers delicate description. E. E Cumming’s ‘Little Tree‘ gives us a family addressing their Christmas tree with an eccentric tenderness. ‘Talking Turkeys‘ by Benjamin Zephaniah offers a comedic (vegetarian) plea on behalf of the nation’s turkeys for those who want some festive entertainment.