Books are my favourite Christmas presents. To receive because they’re unlikely to add to my almost-Oprah-worthy hoard of possessions – if I love the book it’ll earn a tidy spot on my Ikea Expedia. If I’m not so keen, I can give it away guilt-free, because the book still got to fulfill its Christmas destiny. To give because they’re super-easy to wrap.
And the holiday season is doubly booky for me, because it’s also the perfect time for catching up on reading, especially when 20-hour flights are involved. These are some books that have earned a spot in my holiday luggage this year:
To give to the Christmas traditionalist: The Christmas Books by Charles Dickens
There are lots of high-end editions of this holiday classic, but I really like this one by White’s Books, because it’s a bit gritty and scary looking – which is how I think Dickensian London should always be portrayed, even if “A Christmas Carol” did once star Mickey.
This book doesn’t just explain type, it expounds – on why Helvetica is omnipresent, why we all hate Comic Sans, and on how everyone from Presidents to Fuhrers have been affected by their choice of lettering.
I’ve probably gushed over this book enough, but it’s extremely giftable – beautiful, whimsical, and somehow personal for every reader.
A confirmed crowd-pleaser, even for people who don’t want to be pleased at first (like me). This is a fast, satisfying, curl-up-on-the-couch kind of read. After this, your mom will actually listen to your book recommendations.
I’ve already started this, but I’m looking forward to devoting my whole attention to it so that I can get properly scandalised by sexist pseudo-science. Only possible downfall – will the guy sitting in 21C try to talk to me about it?
And what am I hoping to take back in my suitcase? Maybe something like…
People who like to keep up on the latest thing (ahem) probably already feel a bit left behind if they haven’t read Franzen’s latest opus yet. We may’ve missed our chance to chime in with the rest of the peanut gallery back in September, but I think there’ll still be plenty of chances to casually bring this book up in conversation.
Mary Roach brought us Stiff and Bonk, so it’s been established that this is a lady who knows how to make things interesting. And the intricacies of space travel are already pretty interesting.
Because it’s missing from my set, and it’s pretty much the best one. It gets so cold Pa can’t play the fiddle! They don’t have enough wood, so they have to twist sticks of hay so that they burn longer!
Also, I have fond festive memories involving the Little House books: I was reading the Christmas scene from Little House in the Big Woods (Laura finally gets to replace her corncob doll Susan with a real doll, Charlotte! I’m pretty sure her eyes glisten by the light of the fireplace when she looks at it). My sister had a headache, so was lying on the couch with a cloth over her eyes. Naturally, she got bored and asked me to read aloud. (What a totally “Mary” thing for her to do, am I right?) Little by little, the other members of my family started to listen to me read. It was our very own Little House in the Big Woods moment, and it was awesome.
Happy Holidays everyone. If I get stuck in an airport in Amsterdam or Calgary or Minneapolis, I’m busting these books open and reading them myself. Will try to avoid unnecessary spine-breaking, but I can’t make any promises.