Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thursday List: Christmas Books - Reader Recommendations






Last week I did a list of some Christmas-y books for the festive season: blog readers always come up with great additions to any list I do, but this time they excelled themselves. As I noted them down, they just looked like the perfect Xmas reading list – Mark 2.




1) Christmas with the Savages by Mary Clive – suggested by Lissa Evans (writer of one of my favourite books this year, The Crooked Heart, and new blogfriend.) She says: ‘it's perfect in every way (the story of a prim little girl at an Edwardian house party - funny, orginal, touching), and also perfect for Clothes in Books.' I ordered it straight away.

2) Lisa said ‘There is also Nancy Mitford's Christmas Pudding, set during two different Christmas house parties, & a lot of fun.’ I am a Nancy Mitford obsessive, but my re-reading generally starts with the later Pursuit of Love, so she’s right – I need to go back to this one.

3) Margot Kinberg – doyenne of crime fiction bloggers at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist - said ‘Have you read Ngaio Marsh's Tied Up in Tinsel? I think that's another that might fit on this sort of list.’ I have just resolved to read and re-read more of Marsh, so this one goes to the top of the list.

4) Margaret Jones had several great suggestions: ‘Maigret's Christmas is also really good, a great selection of short stories some of which genuinely have a Christmas theme; and of course I love ghost stories at Christmas too. John Masefield's Box of Delights is a fun Christmas-set read as is Arthur Ransome's Winter Holiday.’ Winter Holiday was my favourite of the Swallows and Amazons series, and now I want to read it NOW.

5) Another Antonia Forest fan! Nomey points out that her 'Peter's Room (also brilliant) takes place entirely in the Christmas holidays as does... her Runaway Home'. She says that ‘Forest's characterisation is far superior to many an award-winning fiction writer.’ And I totally agree with her. 




Santa settles down with a cup of coffee to read a good book


6) ‘One of the most entertaining Christmas stories I know’ says Cecilia. It is Stephen Leacock's Hoodoo McFiggins Christmas, and you can find it online here.

7) Another favourite writer, Christine Poulson gave a second vote for Maigret, and also mentioned ‘Arnuld Indridason's Voices, which is set at Christmas. And then there's Nicholas Blake's The Abominable Snowman.’

8) Audrey nominated Little Women ("Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents" grumbled Jo, lying on the rug) and James Joyce's wondrous The Dead. I should do a Twelfth Night list. 

9) TracyK (of Bitter Tea and Mystery) said 'My absolute favorite Christmas mystery is Jane Haddam's Not a Creature was Stirring, the first in the Gregor Demarkian series. I read it twice and could read it again. From last year's Christmas mysteries, I would recommend The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott, a historical mystery set in Australia during World War II. One mystery I read this month was Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod. It is an old favorite of mine. Her first novel and an academic mystery. The other was A Season for Murder by Ann Granger, a fine mystery set among Christmas festivities. Both have skulls on the cover! I will be reviewing them this month.' Tracy's review of the Granger is here.

9) John H Rogers also recommended  Jane Haddam's Not A Creature Was Stirring (and I agree with him and Tracy) and added Cyril Hare's An English Murder. Then he said 'I highly recommend the Robert Benchley collection A Good Old- Fashioned Christmas, especially "Christmas Afternoon" ("God help us, everyone") and "Editha's Christmas Burglar".'

10) Steve Mitchell  -  the Opinionated Film Buff, currently reviewing the ten best Christmas films - said 'I like John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. But my favourite Christmas book ever ever ever is A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.'


So there you go - some really excellent suggestions from the blogging community, making up a really perfect Christmas reading list. And more ideas still welcome - add your favourite Christmas book below.


16 comments:

  1. Moira, this is a good choice of Christmas books. I'm particularly interested in reading John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas." I recall reading a lot of Christmas-based comics, including one particular Harvey comic-book, Little Lotta, in my childhood. She is decorating an X-mas tree. Little Dot couldn't have been far away.

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    1. That sounds nice Prashant, I like the idea of the little girls and the tree. As I said last week, my children always liked Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas comic book.

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  2. Moira - Thank you so much for including my comment and for the kind words. Also thanks for compiling this great list. It just goes to show you how many great ideas there are out there in the blog world!

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    1. It's such a nice positive thing. And I'm looking forward to Tied up in TInsel....

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  3. Also quite a fair portion of my own book Permanent Moments is set over Christmas. Plug over.

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    1. Yes indeed, and there is a link on Stephen's name above leading to a blog entry on his excellent book, with full details.

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  4. I enjoyed this list of recommendations, now I have even more books to add to my already long list of books set around Christmas that I want to read. I also agree with John H. Rogers on An English Murder. I read it a couple of years ago but had forgotten the connection to Christmas.

    Thanks for including my suggestions and the link to my review. Also good to see the reminder of Stephen Mitchell's book.

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    1. Thank YOU for the suggestions - I have ordered the Granger, and am looking forward to reading the Haddam again.

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  5. Thinking about Christmas books - I don't really tend to think in terms of "favourite Christmas book" but here are a couple where Christmas plays a key part:

    * Georgette Heyer's "Envious Casca." - whodunnit at Christmas. One of her better mysteries, with a very satisfying ending.

    * Jostein Gaarder's "The Christmas Mystery" (personally I prefer The Solitaire Mystery, but an interesting backwards-time-travel saga where various people, starting with a modern-day girl who chases after a lamb, find themselves heading towards the Birth.) Not read this one in a long time.

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    1. Thanks Daniel - and look out for Envious Casca, 2 blog entries on it next week! Gaarder I have only read Sophie's World: other books by him don't seem to have hit my radar....will look them up.

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    2. For me, The Solitaire Mystery is his best book - I find Sophie's World gets very weird and confusing and completely falls apart at the end, I may have to give it a fourth (or fifth? I lose count) go. It starts well, and I get what he is trying to do, but it all gets a bit too self-knowing for my liking, especially towards the end when everything starts going a bit crazy (a la House of Arden) and I found it very unsatisfying.

      On the other hand, I adored The Solitaire Mystery. I've only really read those three books by him - I should probably try others. I HAVE read The Ringmaster's Daughter too, but no real memory of it.

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    3. I definitely need to get on these....

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  6. One of the best Christmas books ever is a children's book, The 13 Days of Christmas, by Jenny Overton, which tells how the song (The 12 Days of Christmas) could have come about, when Annaple Kitson's wealthy suitor woos her with an increasingly exotic array of presents. It's set in Restoration England, and there are some descriptions of the clothes, and illustrations by Shirley Hughes.

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    1. That sounds fabulous, and right up my street. I have read one book by Jenny Overton, Creed Country, but haven't come across this one. Sounds very Clothes in Books - and Shirley Hughes is always a wonderful addition to any book. Thanks....

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  7. I have never looked for books with a Christmas theme, having grown up in a multicultural Chanukkah/Christmas/Winter Solstice kind of home. But there are a few here I'd like to investigate, includding the Haddam.

    My Christmas days, after gorging myself the night before at a friend's house, consist of reading and watching movies...a perfect day.

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    1. I'll be interested to know what you make of the Haddam - it's the first of a long series, have you read any of them? Best seasonal greetings for Chanukkah/Christmas/Winter Solstice!

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