Thursday, December 24, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Christmas

How is it, in all the years I've been posting this feature, I've never done a Christmas theme? I didn't think that was actually possible. I even went back through all my previous posts to double check. So, since it's Christmas Eve, here is a list of books that take place during or are about Christmas.


A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

In October 1843, Charles Dickens ― heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher ― began work on a book to help supplement his family's meager income. That volume, A Christmas Carol,has long since become one of the most beloved stories in the English language. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favorite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill. With its characters exhibiting many qualities ― as well as failures ― often ascribed to Dickens himself, the imaginative and entertaining tale relates Ebenezer Scrooge's eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warmhearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England's greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.

The Night Before Christmas
Charles Santore

Since it was first published anonymously in 1823, “The Night Before Christmas” has enchanted children with the story of St. Nicholas climbing down the chimney and filling all the stockings before springing back to his sleigh. Many families read the poem every year, and now they have an edition to treasure. The cherished verse, faithfully reproduced here, is accompanied by Charles Santore’s lavish illustrations.
The Polar Express
Chris Van Allsburg

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole. Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish. For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes author’s note, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and golden "All Aboard" ornament.
Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

Stanley Weintraub

In the early months of World War I, on Christmas Eve, men on both sides of the trenches laid down their arms and joined in a spontaneous celebration. Despite orders to continue shooting, the unofficial truce spread across the front lines. Even the participants found what they were doing incredible: Germans placed candlelit Christmas trees on trench parapets, warring soldiers sang carols, and men on both sides shared food parcels from home. They climbed from the trenches to meet in "No Man's Land" where they buried the dead, exchanged gifts, ate and drank together, and even played soccer.
Throughout his narrative, Stanley Weintraub uses the stories of the men who were there, as well as their letters and diaries, to illuminate the fragile truce and bring to life this extraordinary moment in time.

Jean Shepherd

A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana, reissued in a strikingly designed paperback edition. Before Garrison Keillor and Spalding Gray there was Jean Shepherd: a master monologist and writer who spun the materials of his all-American childhood into immensely resonant—and utterly hilarious—works of comic art. In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash represents one of the peaks of his achievement, a compound of irony, affection, and perfect detail that speaks across generations. In God We Trust, Shepherd's wildly witty reunion with his Indiana hometown, disproves the adage "You can never go back." Bending the ear of Flick, his childhood-buddy-turned-bartender, Shepherd recalls passionately his genuine Red Ryder BB gun, confesses adolescent failure in the arms of Junie Jo Prewitt, and relives a story of man against fish that not even Hemingway could rival. From pop art to the World's Fair, Shepherd's subjects speak with a universal irony and are deeply and unabashedly grounded in American Midwestern life, together rendering a wonderfully nostalgic impression of a more innocent era when life was good, fun was clean, and station wagons roamed the earth.

David Sedaris

David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").


Other Christmas Titles
The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans
The Gift of the Magi - O. Henry
A Highland Christmas - M.C. Beaton
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
The Little Match Girl - Hans Christen Anderson
Miracle on 34th Street - Valetine Davies
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Robert L. May
The Stupidest Angel - Christopher Moore
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree - Colleen Moore and Michael Glenn Moore

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