Thursday, 6 December 2012

Getting lost in a good book...

One of my favourite things to do is to curl up on the sofa and get lost in a good book. If there's a cup of tea, woolly blanket, and roaring log fire involved too then that's all the better.

Books have always been an integral part of my Christmas. Father Christmas My mum would scour the local charity shops for interesting, sometimes vintage, books to stuff into our stockings for us to read in the early hours of Christmas day. I love giving books as presents too - whether childhood favourites of mine for my nephews, beautiful hardback editions of classics for friends, or the latest cookery book releases for food-minded recipients.

At this time of year, I love reading books that evoke the spirit of the season. A heady mix of excitement and anticipation, combined with the freezing temperatures and frosted landscapes.

Here are a few of my favourites...

The Box of Delights by John Masefield is probably up there at the top, vying for position of my number one Christmas book. Although technically a children's book, it has a dark and dream-like undercurrent throughout. It tells the story of Kay Harker, a young boy, home from school for Christmas. In his snow-laden world, he meets a Punch and Judy man who entrusts the box of delights, and all its magical powers, to him. However, a gang of crooks, headed by Abner Brown, learn of the box's new owner and set about trying to steal it. I have fond memories of cuddling up to my mum on the sofa while she read passages from the book to me as a child (she was editing out the scarier sections of the book I think!).

Another snow-filled favourite of mine to read during the winter months is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'm sure you know the story - but to summarise: fur coats/snow/Turkish delight/a talking lion/good vs evil/a beaver being given a sewing machine for Christmas. What more could you want from a book?! This is such an evocative story with a spoonful of childhood nostalgia thrown in for good measure.

The First Christmas by Jan Pienkowski takes its words from the traditional nativity story in the King James Bible and sets them to stunning illustrations. Simple, yet intricately detailed silhouettes that have a fairy-tale quality to them add magic to the Christmas story. The dark scenes are reminiscent of the stark winter landscapes after all the leaves have been blown to the ground. It's almost a decoration in itself - my copy will be gracing the mantelpiece this Christmas.

My last Christmas book is a guilty pleasure and a childhood favourite. Who can resist a book full of teeny envelopes and letters and presents for fairy story characters? The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg is full of their iconic illustrations and rhyming text, with enough comic references to traditional tales to keep adults and children alike entertained. I'm looking forward to introducing it to Baby I - I just hope she likes it as much as me!

Do you have any favourite Christmas tales?


  1. I love the jolly Christmas postman, I used to read it all the time when babysitting, hopefully one day I'll be able to read it to my own kids! For now I'm appreciating curling up reading a book on the sofa without being interrupted!

    1. Make the most of that lack of interruption! I've started reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe again this Christmas, but I've only managed about 10 pages so far!

  2. Lovely post, I like your association of books with Christmas. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of my childhood favourites too, but I haven't read The Box of Delights, looking forward to trying it with my daughter. What age do you think it's suitable for? Just started an Esther Freud myself and you are making me feel like an indulgent bit of reading is called for.

    1. The Box of Delights is quite dark and dramatic in parts - so probably suitable for 8/9+? I think I was about that age when my Mum first read it to me - but it depends on how likely your daughter is to be scared by it! Perhaps read it yourself first and see what you think? (Thus giving you some indulgent reading!)


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