Christmas Comfort: What To Read This Holiday/Stress Season

It’s the season for celebrations and holiday cheer all around the world. But for us at UNMC, it’s finals time. With our brains fried from overuse, we could all use a bit of comfort and chill. The Music section’s got you covered with fantastic alternatives for your Christmas soundtrack (check here and here). Film and TV’s movie suggestions should keep your breaks sufficiently entertaining. And we here at the Literature section are going to be doing what we do best: giving you more books to read.

If you’re anything like us, books don’t add to your mental workload, they are the perfect escape from it. But if you are not like us, and the thought of reading a book to de-stress stresses you out more, maybe these light, Christmas spirit filled, comforting books will change your mind.

To begin with, you might be interested in re-visiting this old childhood favorite.

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

You know the story. (Or at least, the character). A bunch of merry folk called the Whos are going about their annual Christmas prep. But this one lonely character called the Grinch who lives up in the mountain absolutely hates Christmas. The holiday cheer finally gets on his nerves too much, and he decides to go around destroying it for everyone. Even if you have never read the book before, trust me, you’re never really too old for some Dr. Seuss.

 

Next come some classics.

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

A timeless classic that follows the lives of four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March from their childhood to adulthood. The book opens with the girls and their mother facing a Christmas without their father, who is away because of the American Civil War. The father had lost all his money, so they have settled in a new neighborhood, and are living in genteel poverty. Fans of the TV series Friends might remember this being Rachel’s favorite book, and Joey crying after reading it.

3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

You probably know the story from Jim Carrey’s re-adaptation of the of this age old classic. Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter old man well known for his miserly ways, is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve. First comes the ghost of his old business partner, then the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in quick succession. A tale of change, redemption and forgiveness.

Now, care for a light, warm, contemporary romance anyone?

4. Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and buys all the cinnamon rolls on her tray. The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge’s.

On the first day in London, Kate, the show’s producer runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew’s in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

And some family drama never hurt no one.

5. Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi. In such close proximity, nothing can stay hidden for long. Secrets are revealed and long held tensions come to light.

If you are really, super short of time, how about a short story?

6. The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry

A heart rending tale of a young couple in love. They are poor beyond measure, and their greatest wealth lies in their two most prized possessions- Della’s beautiful, cascading brown rivers of hair that reached below her knee, and Jim’s gold watch, handed down from his grandfather to his father to him. It’s nearly Christmas and both are faced with the impossible task of buying each other gifts with nearly no money.

Click the picture below to read it.

Or how would you like a collection of stories instead?

7. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Celebrate Christmas with the author who has been called ‘one of the funniest writers alive’. This collection includes stories like ‘SantaLand Diaries’ which recounts Sedaris’ experiences working as an elf at a Macy’s department store; ‘Dinah, the Christmas Whore’, where Sedaris recalls the Christmas that he was taken on a late-night ride downtown by his sister, Lisa, to rescue a prostitute from her abusive boyfriend; ‘Jesus Shaves’, which is about the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French, and many more.

Tolkien fans are going to love the next one.

8. Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

A collection of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children, disguised as letters from Father Christmas. They would arrive every December bearing the stamp of the North Pole, and told wonderful stories of life there. How the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining room; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house, and many more. A delightful read for all ages.

And finally, if this has all been too sappy for you, here’s some Agatha Christie murder mystery to spice things up.

9. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist. But he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man.

 

 

By Samawiyah Ulde 

 

 

your friendly neighbourhood grammar nazi

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