… Three Books to Read this Christmas
Whether you’re busy caroling this year, planning the Christmas dinner for all the family, or mindlessly going from shop to shop in search for the perfect presents for your loved ones, the Scottish Writers Centre doesn’t want you to miss out on all the amazing reading you could be doing around this festive period! Here’s a handy guide on what to read this Christmas, which would get you in the festive spirit if your head is still in November!
George Mackay Brown, Winter Tales
Brown wrote a number of Christmas stories, some of them being very thrilling ghost stories. Most of these stories were first published in the newspapers in very attractive Christmas special issues. Some of them have been collected in Winter Tales. In this collection of stories, dominated by winter and its festivals, George Mackay Brown re-establishes the tradition of ancient, hearthside story-telling. Infused with poetry, this collection simply captures the beauty of the landscapes described. The tales are primarily set in Orkney, and often deal with the conflicts of man with nature, winter festivals, the yearly cycle and the contrast of light with darkness. They demonstrate that although life may be difficult and uncertain, there are many consolations.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
This story was first published in Strand Magazine in January 1892. Watson visits his friend Holmes at Christmas time and finds him contemplating a battered old hat, brought to him by the commissionaire Peterson, after it and a Christmas goose had been dropped by a man in a scuffle with some street ruffians. Peterson takes the goose home to eat it, but comes back later with a carbuncle. His wife has found it in the bird’s crop (throat). Holmes makes some interesting deductions concerning the owner of the hat from simple observations of its condition, conclusions amply confirmed when an advertisement for the owner produces the man himself: Henry Baker. Holmes cannot resist such an intriguing mystery, and he and Watson set out across the city to determine exactly how the jewel, stolen from the Countess of Morcar during her stay at a hotel, wound up in a goose’s crop. Packed with a festive amount of mystery, this story is perfect for those who are fans of crime fiction!
O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry was the pseudonym of the American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). His short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings. The Gift of the Magi is one of his most famous stories. The story contains many of the elements for which O. Henry is widely known, including poor, working-class characters, a humorous tone, realistic detail, and a surprise ending. A major reason given for its enduring appeal is its affirmation of unselfish love. Such love, the story and its title suggest, is like the gifts given by the wise men (called the Magi) who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Jesus. If you are a fan of all things traditional, then this read is the one for you!
So, as you are preparing for the festivities ahead, be sure to pick up a book and give yourself the gift of the perfect holiday story before the year ends!
Words by Simran Aulakh.