It’s Christmas Eve and hopefully by now you will have bought all of your presents, got the turkey waiting in the oven and hung up the stockings. Even if you still have some last minute preparation to do, take some time out to have a look at The Reader Organisation approved Christmas reading recommendations – a list that will keep you stocked up on festive goodwill and cheer when levels are at risk of running low.
There’s also our Recommended Reads for Children Christmas Collection which has lots to offer little ones and the young at heart alike – and which of us isn’t a big kid at this time of year?
From all of us at The Reader Organisation, we wish you a safe, peaceful and very Merry Christmas filled with great literature.
Obadiah Oak, Mrs Griffiths and the Carol Singers (from Notwithstanding) – Louis de Bernieres
It’s a story of village life at Christmas, and a grumpy woman definitely short of Christmas cheer who ends up having a change of heart. It always goes down well in groups.
(Val Nobbs and Penny Markell, London)
Towards the Winter Solstice by Timothy Steele is the most fantastic, multi-cultural, Christmas poem – brilliantly written and choc full of wordplay and wonderful visual images – so much to talk about here.
(Sally Sweeney, South West)
On The Black Hill (Chapter 42)– Bruce Chatwin
This is a gorgeous chapter that definitely includes spoilers, but it is a welcome one in what can be a very bleak and isolated novel. It involves two very secluded farmer twins who discover a life-changing branch of their family tree and, as such, attend a nativity play. The chapter is short, but warm and hilariously funny in a way only children’s nativities can be. But it is also an uncomfortable delve into the unknown for the characters and the way they have been (almost ignorantly) living their lives. Ultimately: life-affirming.
(Ian Walker, Wirral)
Earlier in the month we ran ‘Stop The World I Want To Get Off!’, a special Short Course for Serious Readers at Calderstones Mansion House designed to find some pre-Christmas peace when everything gets too hectic. Bearing in mind the last moments of Christmas chaos a good poem to read is The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
During the day we looked at different ways of finding respite from overwhelming feelings through poems which focused on love, nature and religious faith, including the lengthily named, but wonderful That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection by Gerard Manley Hopkins, I Walk Among Trees And Sit Still by Wendell Berry and further Wordsworth in Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.
One attendee said that coming along to shared reading groups and Short Courses For Serious Readers was ‘like going among trees and sitting still’ for her – that she forgot her worries when she was concentrating on the literature and found an oasis in the reading! With that in mind, why not begin January with our latest Short Course at Calderstones, asking Can a Book Change your Life? (Saturday 18th January, 10am-4pm: full details on our website)
(Kate McDonnell, Liverpool)
There was also plenty of festive literary fare being read at the Penny Readings Festival on our shared reading tables and in our special seasonal poetry booklets. Here are just some of the favourites:
Christmas Cracker – Jeanette Winterson
The Night Before Christmas (A Visit from St Nicholas) – Clement Clarke Moore
Mistletoe – Walter de la Mare
Talking Turkeys – Benjamin Zephaniah
Christmas Carol – Eleanor Farjeon
Christmas Bells – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow