There’s nothing (that’s legal) better than snuggling by the fire on a cold, blustery winter night with a good book or book-like reading apparatus. Or, if you live in Southern California, snuggling on a beach volleyball court by a smog-contributing campfire suffices.
Either way, the below selections should warm your soul (if not your toes) and put you in the holiday spirit. Not all of these tomes may be what you would consider traditional holiday stories, but allow us to make our case:
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass.
Originally written by Lewis Carroll as a Christmas gift to a young girl, these stories evoke many of the fantastical stories that surround the mythologies of Christmas itself. After all, is it really that great a leap from a fat, jolly man who brings you presents to an evil queen who wants to chop everyone’s head off? Well, they both wear red, anyway. And read popular books.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
(It’s just one story, not three.) Written by C.S. Lewis (notice the “Lewis” segue) in 1949, this book is set mainly in a snowy wonderland (notice the “wonderland” segue). Also, just about everything Lewis wrote had Christian undertones, so if Christian undertones are what make you feel all warm and Christmassy, you’ve come to the right book.
- The Canterbury Tales
Certainly many of us have memories of our parents tucking us in on a chilly winter’s night and reading us a story or two. The Canterbury Tales is a book about storytelling. Granted, not all of them are as gentle and heartwarming as The Polar Express, but they still make for some darn good readin’.
- The Winter’s Tale.
It’s Shakespeare. It’s a tale that takes place in winter. Need we say more?
- The Giver.
You may have heard that this is the season of giving. It’s a nice complement to the eleven months of taking. (This missive was not a jab at your friends who work for the IRS.) Okay, so it’s a bit of a downer, but if you need something to bring you down off your holiday high, this is the one.
- Gulliver’s Travels.
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale… Oh – wait – that’s a different story. What are the holidays if not a time to use and strengthen our sense of imagination? Hard to imagine any book more imaginative than Gulliver’s Travels. Written by Jonathan Swift, it is also largely satirical, but if you prefer you can just read it for the fun stories! Sardonic jabs at human nature can be digested another month. And if none of these pearls grab you, see the (truly awful) movie starring Jack Black.
- The Diary of Anne Frank.
Really, Shmoop? Really, reader. How could you not feel better about your own plight and be able to appreciate and value what you do have after reading about Anne’s sad, isolated existence? While death is a major theme of the book, it’s at the same time a pretty inspiring and life-affirming work. Next time you feel like complaining about … well, really anything, this book will cure you.
- A Prayer for Owen Meany.
This highly entertaining book by John Irving is, at its root, a story about the bonds between friends and family. Although sometimes the bonds can feel stifling, there’s no denying that your loved ones are always there for you, even Owen’s brother Eenie
- Robert Frost poems.
Arguably America’s greatest poet (after Jewel, of course), Frost has painted moving and enduring portraits of the winter season in such poems as “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “An Old Man’s Winter Night”.. One has to wonder – if Mr. Frost had lived in a place with a warmer climate than New England, is it more likely he would have written a poem called something like “Bikini Beach Party?”
- The Chosen.
Not everyone on the planet is Christian. Not even everyone in the United States. The whole world doesn’t “go Christmas” at this time of year. The Chosen examines and celebrates courage, brilliance and talent set in the background of the Jewish faith. Ever wanted to be something that you couldn’t be? Disappointed your parents in your career choices? Had to go against the crowd’s wishes? Connect with the main characters here and anchor the pathos in your holiday season.