December is often considered the most wonderful time of the year. However, despite all the joy surrounding the season, it can get quite tiresome as students prepare for exams in these difficult conditions. Sometimes it’s best to pick up a book that can take us away from the mentally draining activities of these times, while also helping us embrace the holiday spirit. So here are five books to give you a peaceful but jolly holiday season.
A Christmas Carol (Written by Charles Dickens, 1843)
This classic novella is perfect for those who are looking for a short story with a simple message. The plot centers around Ebenezer Scrooge, a morose elderly man who on Christmas Eve is visited by the ghost of his former business partner — a man much like Scrooge — who informs him he will meet three more ghosts that night and must listen to what they have to say. If not, Scrooge will face a terrible fate…
A Christmas Carol’s prose is simple to read in comparison to other novels of its kind. If I were to explain Dickens’ writing style, I would call it a blend of Classical Hollywood cinema and the quirky characters of Wes Anderson. Because of this blend, Dickens was able to craft a story that is enjoyable for those looking for a narrative that conveys deep meaning in a lighthearted tone.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Written by Agatha Christie, 1938)
This recommendation should fit the bill for fans of the highly eccentric sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Without revealing too much, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas follows lavish businessman Simeon Lee, who invites his four sons and their families over for Christmas. Cute, right? Well for Simeon Lee, the happy family holiday was all a ploy to announce he is cutting them out of his will. And just add to the drama, what ensues next is a bloody murder with no witness to the culprit. Or so we think…
Much like other books in the mystery genre, the story is centered around
a dysfunctional family. Think Knives Out, Little Miss Sunshine and Crazy Rich Asians. The story is not as jolly as others on this list, but the ending of this book can be a gentle reminder for parents these coming holidays not to be too harsh on their children, especially as exam preparation begins.
Little Women (Written by Louisa May Alcott, 1868)
You might have already experienced this story in another medium like on a stage, on television or through the Oscar-winning film adaptations by Gillian Armstrong and Greta Gerwig. But for those who don’t know, the story is about four sisters and the pivotal moments in their lives. Most of the storyline occurs during winter, so it gives the reader that Christmas spirit. But what makes this story worth the read is that it deals with feminist issues that were extremely progressive for its time. Little Women discusses the troubles women have finding work, the view that marriage is just an economic proposition for women and the domestic troubles women face.
Hogfather (Written by Terry Pratchett, 1996)
Readers who like a story with a dark tone that is highly satirical will love Hogfather. The story is about the missing mythical creature Hogfather, who grants children’s wishes and gives them presents on Hogswatch Night. You’re probably thinking this sounds just like any other bland Christmas story. The compelling part of this novel is that, due to Hogfather’s absence, the infamous character Death fills his role instead. This story may sound absurd, but much like A Christmas Carol, its message is an important reminder to those who may be out of the holiday spirit. Pratchett’s moral message of the story is almost like a profound thesis in an academic essay,—for us to believe in large fantasies like universal justice, we must first believe in small ones like elves and Santa (Hogfather).
If you take pleasure in dispelling children’s beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, Santa or the Easter Bunny, this is for you.
The Stupidest Angel (Written by Christopher Moore, 2004)
If you’re sick of following characters who know it all and have their lives all figured out, I think you’ll find comfort in the protagonist of this story: Archangel Raziel. We follow this clueless angel after little Joshua Baker witnesses Santa die. Of course, after seeing something so devastating, Baker prays for Santa to come back. Good news — an angel comes to his side. Bad news — it’s the angel Raziel who has come to help. Or should we say, make things worse. What ensues is a train wreck that you can’t turn your eyes away from. There are talking fruit bats, a pot smoking sheriff, a nutty ex-battle warrior/actress, a sketchy biologist conditioning rats and many more wacky characters in this zany scenario. And to make matters worse, it’s all up to the absentmindedRaziel to save Christmas and this ill-fated town.
I recommend this story specifically to those who believe their life is in chaos right now.