It is December, the holiday month, and outside the weather is cold and drizzly and sometimes there is a snowstorm. (Never mind that it is sunny with blue skies and a temperate breeze actually. In my head there is snow.)
When it’s cold and grey outside, and all you want to do is stay wrapped up in bed or chair with a cup of hot something and a warm book, here are a few of my favorite December reads:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
A poor orphan is sent to live at the home of her rich cousin. When tragedy strikes, the cousins, along with their faithful gamekeeper, must set off through snow and hard work to save the day with pluck and spirit. There are a lot of howling wind and ice bits interspersed with cozy warm well-fed bits that make you feel pretty happy to be tucked up in a quilt with a plate of English muffins. This is a children’s book and is pretty overwrought, but if you’re looking for coziness it can’t be beat.
When you are sick to death of Santa Claus, try Terry Pratchett’s warped take on Christmas. On the Discworld, Santa Claus is the Hogfather, whose sleigh is drawn by great big pigs to deliver toys to all the kiddies on Hogswatchnight. And this year, someone has assassinated him…This book is funny and fascinating in that British comic fantasy way, good when you want a break from the emotional side of the holiday season.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Doesn’t the title sort of say it all? Christopher Moore does it again.
Many of Patricia McKillip’s books are full of wizards and elves, but most of Winter Rose is about a family of ordinary people having ordinary thoughts (about extraordinary events, though; it’s still a fantasy novel). Two sisters fall in love with the same man and do not catfight, argue, plot or scheme against each other. They just go on being sisters, as people do. There’s also a lot about the pleasures of spring, which is nice to read when your December weather is being uncooperatively summery.
With all the cozy indoor scenes, the romantic carriage rides through snow and the December dances, Emma is the perfect book to curl up with when you’ve got the kettle on and a fire burning. Plus, no matter what bad feelings holidays might stir up for you — stress, sadness, loneliness — you can always take comfort in the knowledge that you are not nearly as clueless (heh) as Emma and Mr. Knightly.
Wooster is always dopey, cheerful and helpless, and Jeeves is always respectable, snooty and genius. They will always come through. They will never change. You open a Jeeves story, you know exactly what you’re going to get: Bertie Wooster in a spot of hot water. Jeeves will then save his bacon in exchange for Bertie agreeing to stop wearing some objectionable item in his wardrobe. These stories are comforting as clockwork and require about as much input from you: perfect when a day with your relatives has worn you out and you just want a bit of a loff.
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