Based on a recent tortuous visit to the mall I’d have to say tis the season of babies bawling their eyes out on Santa’s lap. But tis also the season of lists — best of lists, worst of lists, lists for Santa, and of course the secret Christmas shopping list that I keep hidden on my MAC under the cleverly encoded name of samx2014 (ssshhh).
And because we need another list, we at Dead Darlings decided to put together a list of Christmas-themed novels. These proved harder to find than the perfect gift for that distant relative who hates everything, so we expanded our list to include stories, memoirs, and essays. Here you go:
The Twelve Books of Christmas
1. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Long before he was hobnobbing with the rich and famous and writing about cold-blooded killers, Capote wrote this charming story about a childhood Christmas spent with an elderly eccentric cousin in rural Alabama.
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This children’s book will expand the hearts of Grinches of all ages.
3. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Get in the holiday spirit with this heart-wrenching holiday tale about a little girl who (spoiler alert) freezes to death on New Year’s Eve.
4. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
If you’re wondering why this is on the list: This is a story told by Douglas (who may or may not really be Miles) to his friends on Christmas Eve. And what better way to spend the night before Christmas than by listening to a terrifying tale about ghosts who may or may not exist and a governess who may or may not be deranged with an ending that you may or may not ever figure out. Merry Xmas to you too, Henry James!
5. The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry
This cautionary Christmas tale about the perils of secret Santa may also help you to understand irony.
6. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
My kids and I have a tradition of reading this aloud every Christmas Eve in an Irish accent because why not.
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without tiny Tim and ghosts who time travel and put you in touch with your inner Scrooge.
8. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
This novel opens right before Christmas and also involves a variant of time travel. That’s enough to make me want it under the tree, and to create another list of Christmas books that involve time travel.
9. A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
This prose poem captures the spirit of the season with lines like: “All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find.”
10. A Little Fruitcake by David Valdes Greenwood
Whether you love fruitcake or hate it you will enjoy these charming Christmas memories from an indomitable “little fruitcake.”
11. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
This might sound like something along the lines of sentimental movie favorites like “White Christmas” or “Holiday Inn” but it isn’t cause it’s David Sedaris. It is an absolute must read because of the story “Dinah, the Christmas Whore.”
12. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
Before there were endless Christmas Eve marathons of the movie, “A Christmas Story,” there was the book. It is as charming and funny as the film and if it’s your thing you can read it over and over and over again.