“In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold.”
Ben Aranovitch in Broken Homes (2014)
Today’s image: the book
How I envy the woman in the above quote. I do not seek, necessarily, to wish the cold away, but with work still at full pelt, and the Christmas preparations to undertake, there is little time to curl up with books. But my time is coming! Oh yes. A holiday is nigh.
I know people who have a long-held tradition of giving books before Christmas Day, to be enjoyed during the ensuing days of rest. That’s a lovely idea. I cannot think of anything worse than being without reading matter during a holiday, can you?
The book may not be a traditional seasonal image (the good book aside, for practising Christians), but it is an elemental one to me.
My own seasonal habit is to reserve Boxing Day (26th December, and a national day off in England) for lounging and reading. AKA ‘Booking Day’ to me. I will have worked hard cleaning, cooking, wrapping, planning, and that is my big chance. I forgo the tradition of a Boxing Day walk, yes, but there is time left for that – I am lucky to work at an institution that closes until after New Year.
On the day itself, I do little else, just read, lounge by the fireplace, and reach out the occasional hand for easy sustenance. Though critical to this, of course, is to have secured the necessary reading matter via my wish list, then hope for the best. I generally cover at least a couple of fiction books, a non-fiction, and a biography. On my list this year I included:
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin as a biography, and the novel Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell (though I think I’ll cry terribly).
Andfor my non-fiction choice, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes. I love reading about ancient civilisations. I remember reading William Golding’s The Inheritors years ago and being utterly engrossed. This is a chance to learn more factual information about this species, our closest ancient human relatives.
And because we all need some light relief, I also threw in a suggestion for The Best of Me by David Sedaris.
How about you – do you have any particular traditions around books and reading at Christmas or other festivals? And what book would you like to receive as a gift?