Now that Thanksgiving is over I can officially start one of my annual holiday traditions: the rereading of the Christmas books. I don’t tend to decorate much, but there’s a certain set of books that makes it feel like Christmas to me.
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
I am alternatively thrilled and aggravated by Connie Willis. To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite books, but Blackout and All Clear were interminable (this does not mean that I didn’t cry at the end, because I totally did). But I adore this book of Christmas short stories and read it every year. Each story has at least a hint of science fiction about them, but the stories span the range of emotions. There’s a romantic comedy that involves aliens invading at Christmas and a haunting thriller about three modern-day wise men driving across the U.S. in a blizzard. In my favorite story, Mary and Jesus accidentally stumble through time into a modern day church during Christmas preparations, and a busy mom has to help them get back to Bethlehem. Plus, the forward to the book includes Willis’s own list of favorite holiday books and movies.
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
This one is not overly Christmas-y–although it does feature a Christmas scene–but for some reason it puts me in a cozy, holiday state of mind. Perhaps because the story about British teenagers in the 1950s is so pretty and candy-colored that it feels like a fairy tale. I’ve read about a trillion books set in WWII England, but hardly any about the generation that came of age immediately after the war, so this offers a slightly different perspective.
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Yes, it’s a kids’ book, but it’s got a small dog! Named Olive! It’s just charming.
Comfort and Joy by India Knight
This just came out last year, but it immediately earned a permanent place on my list of holiday books. There’s not a lot of plot here, it’s just the story of a modern-day, many-branched English family trying to sort out how to celebrate Christmas. I adore India’s blog and love following her on Twitter because her writing makes you feel like you’ve just sat down with her to have a cup of tea and tell scandalous stories about all your mutual friends. This book feels exactly the same way and is full of all sorts of wonderful family and holiday details. I had to order mine from Amazon.co.uk last year, but now you can can get a nice, affordable American version.
Also, I think all of us would happier people if we all rewatched While You Were Sleeping during this time of year.
Ooh, I definitely second Connie Willis’ Miracle! I reread my favorite stories from that every year. Have you also read “Just Like the Ones The We Used to Know”? It is from her Winds of Marble Arch collection (which brings up a bit of a pet peeve of mine for authors: do not keep putting the same short stories in various collections because I will not buy duplicates, even though the titular story is really, really good), and is another really good Christmas story; also available to read online: http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0406/liketheonesweusedtono.shtml
Also #7 of her list of Twelve Terrific Things to Read at Christmas is one of three Damon Runyon Christmas-themed short stories, and a couple of Christmases ago, I checked a few of his short story collections out from the library and they are awesome, satiric 1940s mobsters stories.
Connie Willis is pretty awesome (and since I skipped Blackout and All Clear I have nothing to forgive her for), and the others sound fun, but why While You Were Sleeping?
While You Were Sleeping is awesome! What is funnier than a mistaken-identity comedy about a man in a coma at Christmas time? It makes me laugh and want to drink eggnog, what can I say.
While You Were Sleeping IS awesome! Have you not seen it, Rebecca? If you say no, we are renting it this Christmas! (or catching it one of the umpteen times I’m sure it will be on tv)
Er… no? I’ve always kind of lumped it in with all of those romantic comedies that came out all at once: You’ve got mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc.
Well, it IS a romantic comedy that came out during that general period, but it’s got a slightly more twisted sensibility than some of those other movies. I mean, the plot is that a woman pretends to be engaged to a guy in a coma! And yet it still manages to be charming! Also, I think that Sandra Bullock’s career makes a lot more sense once you’ve seen this–she’s really, really winning here.
I agree with Kinsey – the family of the man in the coma is just so funny and likable, too