Now that we are well ensconced in the Christmas season, iUniverse thought we would recommend some pleasant reading to reinforce your Yuletide cheer. At this time of year, we often get so caught up in the activity of the season, such as Christmas parties and shopping, that we unfortunately neglect some of the more profound aspects that make Christmas what it is. With this in mind, iUniverse here presents several stories to enrich your enjoyment of Christmastime. We’ve made sure that none of the works are too long, as this is also a time of year to be spent with others.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens: This novella is the longest of the stories here, and probably the most famous. It is difficult to think of Christmas without also remembering the names Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Few writers could have fused elements of horror into a Christmas tale, but Dickens was in the pantheon of authors. As a tale of warning, with the message that life is not about greed but about being good to one’s fellow man, A Christmas Carol still remains one of the ultimate stories of salvation. It also possesses Dickens’ inimitable skill for characterization, and the humor and charm which he was able to insert into nearly everything he wrote. It’s long, and if you don’t have a lot of time, just skip around: every part is good.
(Dickens also has several other Christmas books, if you’ve read A Christmas Carol too many times. Check out The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, or his Christmas Ghost Stories. All are available in the public domain and can be ordered online for free.)
The Gift of the Magi: O. Henry’s short story about a financially strapped couple who face the dilemma of how to afford Christmas presents for each other contains a heartwarming ending. The couple, young and impecunious, struggle with the obligation to find material gifts for each other, only to learn that the best gifts are not material at all. We won’t spoil the story too much by telling you more.
Journey of the Magi: Related to the above is TS Eliot’s 43-line poem, Journey of the Magi. It’s short enough to be read in a few minutes, so there’s no excuse to avoid this one! The poem hearkens back to Biblical times, specifically the Epiphany, with the Three Wise Men crossing the desert to meet the Christ child. Nonetheless, this is not a simple poem about visiting Jesus, but more of a comment on a new way of viewing life, from pagan to Christian.
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle: A Sherlock Holmes story, by Conan Doyle – yes, the combination of Holmes and Christmastime! A jewel theft during the Yuletide season gets Holmes and Watson “afoot,” as they trace clues from a Christmas turkey found on the street, have a few beers at the pub, visit the poultry market, and ultimately solve the case. The dramatized version from the Granada network, which aired when Jeremy Brett played Holmes, is worth watching for its Victorian charm and feel-good ending scene.
Other literary gems from the season include several tales by Hans Christian Anderson, some charmingly archaic poems by poet Robert Herrick, Washington Irving’s Christmas narratives from The Sketch Book, and some great short stories in the collection Buddy’s Favorite Christmas Stories and Poems, pictured to the right. Don’t forget to read A Visit from St. Nicholas, often also called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” on Christmas Eve!
If you have any suggestions for Christmas reading, please send them in!