Christmas is coming soon!
Honestly, I hardly ever read Christmas-themed books throughout the season, except of course, The Bible. But I think that one you can exclude from any lists since you actually need to read it every day, if you are a Christian. Now, The Christmas Affiliate Competition held by The Book Depository gave me an inspiration. In one category of the competition (yep, there are more than one!), they challenged bloggers to list top five picks for Christmas on their blogs. Well, because I haven’t read too many Christmas-themed books, I decided to do a little browsing and found some interesting books that I want to read in Christmas (not necessarily THIS Christmas, though.)
So here they are, five Christmas-themed books that I want to read.
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
Synopsis: Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or some sketches.
The letters were from Father Christmas.
They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents everywhere; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house.
Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humor to the stories.
My thoughts: Tolkien wrote this. For his children. That’s just wow. Sure there are many writers in the world, dead or alive, who wrote stories for their own children. But it still amazes me anyhow. I want to experience more Tolkien since I have only read The Hobbit. I haven’t got enough time to lay hands on the phenomenal Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I have watched all three movies. With such a huge fanbase (“Tolkienites”), I’m sure this book really is something.
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
Synopsis: If you had lived in Hamburg in the fourteenth century, or Venice in the ninth century, or Damascus in the second century, you might have looked up from what you were doing and glimpsed – just for a second – a strange procession rushing past and out of sight. There were, at different times, a little girl, a flock of sheep, shepherds, angels, a Roman governor and the Emperor Augustus, and they were hurrying to Bethlehem to see the Christ-child.
The little girl was Elisabet Hansen, who disappeared from Norway at Christmas in 1948. Years later, a young boy called Joachim opens the 24 doors of a magic Advent calendar and pieces together Elisabet’s story – how she was taken on an astonishing journey, not just from Norway to Bethlehem but back through two thousand years of history.
Like Jostein Gaarder’s hugely popular Sophie’s World and The Solitaire Mystery, The Christmas Mystery is an enthralling story-within-a-story, full of surprises. It is written with an enquiring open-mindedness and a sense of wonder that startles the reader into looking at the story of Christmas with fresh eyes.
My thoughts: I currently am reading one book people regard as Gaarder’s masterpiece, Sophie’s World, and so far the book stunned me. I have never even imagined a subject as serious as history of philosophy could be fun and thrilling. That’s why, I’m excited to read more of Gaarder’s works.
The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle
Synopsis: The birth of Jesus was a Glorious Impossible. Like love, it cannot be explained, it can only be rejoiced in. And that is what master storyteller Madeleine L’Engle does in this compellingly written narrative, inspired by Giotto’s glorious frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. With a simple clarity that illuminates the life of Christ, Madeleine L’Engle give eloquent voice to the miracle of God’s love.
My thoughts: The premise looks promising. And a lot of people in Goodreads gave positive reviews for this book. And it is loaded with Giotto’s frescoes. Seriously, this is too much.
Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
Synopsis: Christmas poems by the Nobel Laureate
To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother’s breast, the
of the ox’s nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior, the team
of Magi, the presents heaped by the door, ajar.
He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.
–from “Star of the Nativity”
Joseph Brodsky, who jokingly referred to himself as “a Christian by correspondence,” endeavored from the time he “first took to writing poems seriously,” to write a poem for every Christmas. He said in an interview: “What is remarkable about Christmas? The fact that what we’re dealing with here is the calculation of life–or, at the very least, existence–in the consciousness of an individual, a specific individual.” He continued, “I liked that concentration of everything in one place–which is what you have in that cave scene.” There resulted a remarkable sequence of poems about time, eternity, and love, spanning a lifetime of metaphysical reflection and formal invention.
In Nativity Poems six superb poets in English have come together to translate the ten as yet untranslated poems from this sequence, and the poems are presented in English in their entirety in a beautiful, pocket-sized edition illustrated with Mikhail Lemkhin’s photographs of winter-time St. Petersburg.
My thoughts: I have never read or heard of Joseph Brodsky before. But evidently if Nobel laureates together with Pulitzer Prize winners would team up for the job of translating Brodsky’s poems, then surely there is something exceptional about them. Reciting Margaret Langstaff, a reviewer in Goodreads: “Brodsky is not opaque, obscure or difficult, lots more folks might discover him/ enjoy him but they just “never heard of him.””
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
Synopsis: On the night before Christmas, cruel, tyrannical, filthy rich Simeon Lee is found in his locked bedroom with his throat cut. Now Hercule Poirot must put his detective powers to the test to solve one of his most chilling cases – and to prevent a clever killer from spilling more blood.
My thoughts: Time for some detective mystery, for a change. And no need further explaining about why you should read this book, it’s Agatha Christie’s.
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