6. “A GIRL IS ARYA STARK”, SURVIVING THE FACELESS MEN
5.Little Women by Louisa May AlcottBuy it from Amazon
Louise May Alcott’s Little Women has one of the most cherished Christmas reads in festive literature. The tale of the March sisters begins on Christmas Eve with the infamous line —”Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents”—as they lament their genteel destitution, their fathers’ absence and their inability to own, and gift, pretty things. Yet the girls are determined to have a wonderful season and Christmas ends up being a time of joy, laughter and love. The novel follows the sisters throughout the year, giving insights into their boisterous characters, traditional Victorian customs and problematic relationships, before coming full-circle and ending in another Christmas scene.
6.The Nutcracker by E. T. A. HoffmannBuy it from Amazon
Few people can tell you who E. T. A. Hoffmann is, whilst many recognize one of the most famous Christmas tales – The Nutcracker. Since its publication in 1816, the story’s adaptations have fascinated audiences, inspired numerous ballet choreographers and appealed to composers, most notably the Russian musician Tchaikovsky. The tale centers on the young Marie Stahlbaum and her favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, who magnificently comes alive, defeats the menacing Mouse King and takes her away to a magical kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The delights of the Christmas season are beautifully illuminated and the book is a pleasure to read. Today, the tale’s enchanting spirit and imagination continues to ring true and appeal to the sense of wonder we all share, reminding us of the importance of keeping in touch with the child within.
7.Doctor Zhivago by Boris PasternakBuy it from Amazon
The epic novel, published in 1957 in Italy, portrays the effects of the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath on a bourgeois family. For many, the novel is a love story against the backdrop of Russia’s historical upheaval at the beginning of the 20th century. The themes of loneliness, individuality and corruption lie at the heart of the tale and powerfully explore the political and social structures surrounding the Soviet state. Set to a backdrop of a snow-encrusted Russian landscape and comprising of a cheery festive party at the Sventitsky’s, Doctor Zhivagoprovides insight into Russian Christmas customs and makes one secretly glad not to be exposed to a winter as cold and bitter as the one described.
8.Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha ChristieBuy it from Amazon
For lovers of detective fiction, the perfect Christmas selection would not be complete without an entry from the classic crime novelist Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is the ultimate holiday murder mystery and centers on a festive family gathering held by the sadistic multi-millionaire Simeon Lee. With numerous unexpected guests, the house soon plays host to a number of potential suspects when the revelry turns deadly. This mystery is devoid of familiar Yuletide cheer and instead, portrays disturbing scenes in the house of a malevolent lecher. For the Belgian detective, this proves to be no holiday as secrets must be uncovered and all motives examined. Ridden with bizarre twists and unexpected plotlines, Christie’s holiday novel is undoubtedly a page-turner.
9.The Gift of the Magiby O. HenryBuy it from Amazon
Allegedly written at Pete’s Tavern in the heart of New York City, The Gift of the Magi is an exquisitely written short story about an impoverished young married couple and their struggle to secretly purchase presents for each other. The delightful Christmas classic has become synonymous with the sentimentality of gift giving during the festive season and carries a heart-warming message of how far people are willing to go in their love for each other. Despite being published in 1905, the tale’s connection between devotion and sacrifice continues to touch readers all over the world today.