Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Christmas book recommendations

I had such an overwhelming response on my post last week about Christmas books, prompted by the addition of a beautiful copy of Dicken's Christmas books to my library, that I thought it was probably worth highlighting everyone's responses in a separate post; like me, many of you enjoy festive reading so I thought that the recommendations should be shared. Vivienne over at Serendipity has had a similar idea and has put together a more comprehensive list of recommendations so do pop over and check that out.

This isn't by any means a definitive list, but some of people's favourites that were mentioned in the comments on my last post, and at the end I've added a section on baking!

Several people mentioned The man who invented Christmas, which is apparently a very readable biography of Dickens, by Andrew Billen. I'll definitely be getting that from the library, although I am intrigued to see that it has been classified as a children's book.

Another book I'll be getting out of the library is The Virago Book of Christmas which is an anthology of writings about Christmas by over 50 woman, including many famous names. It sounds like it could be something that I might want to dip into on each day of advent.

Other recommendations included some of my favourite Christmas reads - Miss Read's Country Christmas, The Tailor of Gloucester (Beatrix Potter) and A child's Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas). Two other children's book favourites are Jo of the Chalet School which has a lovely description of an Austrian Christmas, and Helen Craig's Angelina's Christmas which has glorious illustrations of the dancing mouse.

Some recommendations I had not heard of:
A Christmas memory (Truman Capote)
Mr Ive's Christmas (Oscar Hijuelos)
A redbird Christmas (Fannie Flagg)
Christmas holiday (Somerset Maugham)

but I had already got my eye on some of Sharon Owen's books - gentle chick-lit. I enjoyed an Amanda Brookfield with a Christmas theme last year, although I can't remember the title, and Alison Penton-Harper's Housewife on top was an amusing read last year.

Of course baking is an important part of Christmas; my favourite Christmas baking book is probably the Nigella Christmas book which I was given last year as a leaving present from my job - my mincemeat and Christmas chutney is Nigella this year, and last year I made wonderful orange and cranberry Christmas morning muffins. I had Delia's Happy Christmas out of the library last week, and it was a bit of a disappointment - to be honest, I could tell that the book was never going to do it for me as soon as I saw all of the comprehensive lists and plans at the front. As someone who comes from a very small family (only ever 3 of us for Christmas), who has spent the last two Christmases away, and will probably be spending Christmas with someone else's family, although I did once cook a Christmas dinner, the main bit of cooking that I do over Christmas is yummy baking. Even if I did have to "do" Christmas it would be all about the baking for me. So my other favourite Christmas book which I had from the library earlier this year but had to purchase is Linda Collister's Christmas treats which I'm sure I'll be sharing creations from soon. I believe the Hairy Bikers have a new book this Christmas and I might be interested to see that as they have done some interesting baking bits in the past.

Thanks for all of your suggestions, and I hope that you find this post interesting! I'll be writing nearer the time about the pile of un-Christmassy books that I hope to indulge myself in over the period.


  1. I actually didn't know the bio was a children's book! I need to see if my library has it. And oh, I hope you do read A Christmas Memory! It's one of my all-time favourite short stories.

  2. Looks like I may have to place an amazon order for The Virago Book of Christmas... no copies in my library system :-(

  3. Oops...I should have specified the author of the Dickens books I read...Les Standiford. How strange that they both have the same title but would probably explain the insanely long subtitle that went with the book I read...

    I couldn't agree more...baking and Christmas go hand in hand in this family:)

  4. You definitely found a few that I did not. I shall definitely be adding the Virago one to my list, as well as the Dickens one. The Sharon Owens book, The Tavern At Maple Street was one of the first Christmas books I ever read, just before I started blogging. It is beautifully written and well worth a read. I have been slowly collecting her other books too.

  5. John Grisham's Skipping Christmas is an extremely funny Christmas read, and nice and short. Thanks for sharing these other titles. I'm partial to Miss Read myself.

  6. I've read the Les Standiford book on Dickens and Christmas, I wouldn't say it's a children's book! But I can see why the children's book publisher chose that title, though it is a little confusing since the Standiford book just came out last year.

    I did read A Christmas Holiday last year and was underwhelmed, not my favorite Maugham. And not very Christmasy, either. I've never read the Miss Read books but I keep hearing such good things about them!

  7. Oh I'm so glad you mentioned the Virago Book of Christmas, what perfect timing with my Virago obsession and my library has it!

  8. I read and posted about "A Christmas Memory" last festive season; it is a beautiful short story.

    I adore Nigella's Christmas; I'm hoping to finally make her florentines this year.

  9. A Christmas Carol by Dickens, I can see why people relate Christmas to him.

    Though I have never been brave enough to read it!

    You have made my mouth water with the Christmas baking - I am attempting Gingerbread men this weekend come what may!

  10. I read Capote's a Christmas memory on a sunny holiday earlier in the year and have planned in some Christmas posts from it. It is wonderful - may be a Christmas Eve read.
    Happy Preparations.

  11. Had to tell you amazon said 5 -7 week wait for the Virago book, so I ordered from The Book Depository. After Bleak House, I need to read short pieces. Also, I loved Capote's A Christmas Memory and Fannie Flagg's book was very enjoyable on audio ... read by the author with her delightful southern accent!


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