Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dickens, Capote, and Thomas

No, the title of this post isn't a bureaucratic law firm. It's my traditional Holiday Reading List! Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, I gather my favorite Christmas stories together, station them on my night stand, and let the reading celebration begin.

Here they are in all their yuletide splendor . . .

#1. Truman Capote's short but sweetly sentimental A Christmas Memory:

"A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable - not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather!"

#2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come around apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely . . ."

#3. A Child's Christmas In Wales by Dylan Thomas

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

The holidays wouldn't be the same without these treasures. Do you have reading traditions for this time of year?


  1. My favorite books for Christmas are the childrens. and of course, all the titles have flown from my head.

    The Polar Express is just one.

  2. I do...I read Jane Emily every year at this time because it reminds me of Grandmother even though it is a non-Christmas tale. It was a special book growing up for me and I learned after she passed away she bought a copy from our local library to feel closer to me after I left home.

  3. I really like the Night Before Christmas! But I don't have any Christmas reading traditions. You are definitely making me want to pick up Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory for some holiday reading :-) I've never read it before.

  4. Oooh I'd add any anthology of ghost stories by M R James!!

    :-) Take care

  5. I don't have any traditions but I do have a favorite Christmas book; The Christmas Box. It is very touching!

  6. I LOVE all three of these. And I would add, Why the Chimes Rang. You can find this story online. I once had it in a very slim hardback but along the way in my many moves I sadly lost it! It's beautiful.

  7. I love that bit by Capote!

    Give me a good Maeve Binchy over the holidays and I'm happy.

  8. Roxy: I have not read the Capote work. It is now on my list. Thanks!

  9. That little excerpt has really sold me on the Truman Capote work you've cited! I generally find it really difficult to read books, especially novels, twice. It's the rare book that gets a second read - I tried reading Lord of the Rings a third time some years ago and just couldn't be bothered - I knew what was going to happen.

    Although I do have a much-loved and frequently flipped-through anthology of modern poetry. I find myself going back to some poems again and again. Thomas Hardy's "Hap" and D.H. Lawrence's "Aware" and "Southern Night" are old favourites of mine.

  10. I enjoy reading the gospels at Christmastime. Other than that, I'm more of a TV specials kinda girl.

    That doesn't make me any less of a reader, though! :P

  11. What a cool tradition.


  12. I don't have any reading traditions but I do watch certain films. 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a must, as well as the BBC tv series of 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe'.