As you may remember from just a few weeks ago, we consider anything featuring a Winter holiday as fair game. So yes, it was absurdly easy to select a book for our recent gathering! And now we’ll make it absurdly easy for you to select one as well…
Dori: In Alexandra Brown’s The Great Christmas Knit-Off, Sybil bolts to the small picturesque English village of Tindledale after she’s jilted at the altar of her Star Wars themed wedding. Her friends run a pub there and soon she’s taken in by the quirky residents, forming fast friendships and even finding an admiring, handsome doctor. When the local craft store, Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, is threatened with closure, her knitting skills come in handy as she rallies the villagers to create holiday themed knitted goods for Hettie to sell so she can keep her business. First in a series, this is a fun and quaint holiday read with a great cast of eccentric characters, a frisson of romance and knitting galore! Includes a pattern for a Christmas pudding holiday decoration.
Chris: Christmas with Rita and Whatsit by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod with the sweetest illustrations by Olivier Tallec tells a charming story about a little girl and her dog getting ready for the big day. Lots of typical activities like writing Santa a letter, baking goodies etc. ensue, but most are done with darling twists. Like Whatsit asking Santa for a police dog uniform and decorating his own little tree with a garland of sausages, salami and bologna to smell just right. On Christmas morning, they find all kinds of wonderful presents left by Santa, but one: A big hug from your best friend. Hugs all arounds. CUTE!
Carol: A Christmas Tragedy is a short story by Agatha Christie. Miss Jane Marple is spending an evening of fun with some friends who are taking turns sharing mysterious stories. The story Miss Marple tells revolves around the suspicions she feels upon meeting Mr. & Mrs. Sanders while at a spa during Christmastime. Miss Marple is immediately convinced that the man means to murder his wife. When Mrs. Sanders is later found dead, it is up to Miss Marple to prove that the husband committed the crime. While this title doesn’t necessarily spread Holiday cheer, it’s like a little gift to read anything by Agatha Christie, the queen of crime!
Megan: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris is a collection of humorous short stories that a shine light on the dark underbelly of Christmas. These dark, irreverent, and sardonic stories show readers how the Christmas spirit can go awry. Readers looking for a sweet, happily-ever-after story should steer clear, but fans of dark humor will appreciate this slim volume. An 2008 reprint included six new stories.
Emma: Two stories in one comprise The Christmas Bells. One story revolves around Sophia, school music teacher and volunteer children’s choir director at St. Margaret’s Church, who is about to lose her teaching position. Lucas, the choir accompanist, is very interested in Sophia but reluctant to make his feelings known. The father of Alex and Charlotte, two talented choir members, is MIA in Afghanistan. The second story takes place during the 1860’s. This story revolves around Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who is mourning the death of his wife and trying to convince his son not to join the Union army. It showcases Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Bells” written in 1863. The poem is the basis for “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, one of the songs Sophia’s choir is practicing. The Christmas Bells is a heartfelt story of Christmases past and present.
Steve: Glenn Beck’s The Immortal Nicholas attempts to return Christmas, Santa and St. Nicholas to the origins of Christ, with limited success. The story begins with the main character Agios, forager of frankincense, who has just lost his son and all hope and has turned to wine. He is captured in a drunken stupor by a caravan and brought back to one of the three wise men, who is looking for frankincense to present to the new King who is to be born. From there the story follows the story of Jesus, and not until the end do we see the connection to Nicholas. A good effort that starts out strong but something didn’t quite mesh.
Lauren: Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel brings together a number of quirky (to say the least) characters from other of his books set in the coastal California town of Pine Cove. The townspeople are busy making preparations for the Christmas holiday when young Joshua is devastated to witness the murder of Santa. What has actually played out is a deadly altercation between “evil developer” Dale Pearson dressed and Santa and his ex-wife Lena. Joshua sends up a prayer to the heavens for Santa to be brought back to life in time to save Christmas. Enter archangel Raziel, who has visited Earth to grant a Christmas miracle. Given that Raziel truly is the stupidest angel, he misunderstands Joshua’s request and casts a blanket resurrection over the body of Dale Pearson/Santa as well as all the deceased residents of Pine Cove in the nearby cemetery. The dead rise, and typical of zombies, instantly seek to feast on human flesh. As Moore states, this is “a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror.” Brace yourselves.
Stacey: I didn’t know I needed a sequel to the classic A Christmas Carol -until I read one! Charlie Lovett wrote the ‘spirited’ (pun intended!) novel, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, based on the transformed character of Scrooge. When the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley appears to ask for help shedding the chain he’s been forced to carry, Scrooge is more than happy to do what he can to help. This is a charming story with the positive message giving is better than receiving -one you’ll be sure to enjoy!
Next up is Literary Fiction! If you want to read along -you’ll want to find something characterized by a distinctive writing style. Literary fiction focuses more on character than plot, deals in nuances, and prompt a high degree of interaction between reader and book.