Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford
There’s not a lot of plot in this book but you can forgive all that for it’s charming sense of fun. One of Nancy Mitford’s early novels and written well before her more well known classics like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate it’s a short thing to be devoured and delighted in.
The Christmas Life by Wendy Cope
Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.
Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold –
Bring the Christmas life into this house.
Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,
Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.
Bring in your memories of Christmas past.
Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.
Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,
Bring in the stillness of an icy night,
Bring in the birth, of hope and love and light.
Bring the Christmas life into this house.
One of just 12 poems in this short anthology, Wendy Cope’s Christmas Poems make a lovely thing to read in December.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas recalls Christmas’s past in this wonderful piece of prose originally published in 1952. There’s a joy to reading the words – and looking at Edward Ardizzone’s illustrations but the best experience of all is listening to the audiobook, narrated by Dylan Thomas himself. You can find it on YouTube here.
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Another great writer calls on his childhood for this account of Christmas in Alabama in the 1930’s. The youngest and eldest in the family form a close alliance; the seven year old narrator and his distant cousin, Nanny Foulk. The pair get up to high jinks and become firm friends, but it is never to be the same again for it’s their last Christmas together.
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
‘No more twist!’ The Mayor of Gloucester is due to be married at noon on Christmas Day but will his cherry-coloured twisted silk waistcoat be finished on time by the tailor? Our snowy December is the perfect time to return to this Christmas classic – beloved by all ages and with good reason. It was said to be especially beloved by the author herself who said it was her favourite of all her books.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
One of the best bits of The Wind in the Willows sees Mole and Rat take a detour and return to Mole End, Mole’s home where the cosiest Christmas ensues complete with carolling from the field mice who come in to warm their little legs by the fire. It’s Chapter five for anyone looking out a copy.
A perfect stocking-filler, this slight book contains Winterson’s musings on different aspects of love, taking other stories as a starting point. The best bit (in our view) comes at the end when Christmas is approaching; ‘I was pouring myself a drink when Judy Garland came on the radio and singing, ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. I remembered how Mrs W had played that song on the piano. It was one of those moments we all know, of sadness and sweetness mixed together. Regret? Yes, I think so, for all the things we got wrong. But recognition too, because she was a remarkable woman.’ She goes on to consider her relationship with her mother, Mrs W in relation the Christmas story in a way both moving and brilliant.
As fans of The Summer Book we were delighted to discover the winter version – albeit a different format since this contains 13 short stories within it rather than one. These have each been chosen and ordered by Ali Smith who also writes the foreword. Jansson cleverly balances the straightforward with the soulful, and the stories stay with you.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
We love to return to Little Women at Christmas time – perhaps because of the wonderful descriptions of the festivities within it. The March sisters give away their Christmas breakfast to the poor and are later rewarded when their neighbours, the Lawrence’s deliver a surprise feast; ‘There was ice cream, actually two dishes of it, pink and white, and cake and fruit and distracting French bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers.’ Prime inspiration for our Christmas tables and menus.
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R Tolkien
For over 20 years Tolkien wrote letters from Father Christmas to his children. They were later collected and published in this collection that whisks you straight to the North Pole.
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
Of course we love The Snowman, but if you want to laugh, choose Raymond Briggs’ other classic, Father Christmas. As enjoyable for adults as it is for the 2-5 year age range for which it’s intended, a rather grumpy Father Christmas is rudely awoken from a dream of summer sunshine to realise it’s 24th December and he better get to work.
The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights
A collection of short stories by eight top authors including Bridget Collins, Elizabeth Macneal, Laura Purcell and more. A fresh take on the classic Christmas ghost story and with an enticing cover that makes it a very good present for fans of spooky stories.