A "Very Merry" TBR
December is only three days away, which means for many people, their favorite time of the year is approaching. I’d love to say I’m one of them, but to be honest I can’t say I am. On a scale of “Christmas-elf” to “Grinch” I’m sorry to say that I’m a lot closer to the latter… For me and my family, Christmas is associated with some very sad memories that always put a shadow over the festivities. This means my seasonal TBR may not be your typical one perse. Part of me does crave the “warm Christmas spirit”, yet part of me doesn’t want anything to do with it. This means my reading during this time of year is often a little schizophrenic (in the most literal sense, meaning having a split mind).
On the one hand I reach for books that offer me some escape, and have that warm feeling to combat the cold outside. This usually means much fantasy. For example: two years ago, I binge-reread Harry Potter book 1-5, like any basic-book-bitch. On the other hand, I sometimes want to embrace that cold, and reach for hard hitting books if they reflect my mood. For example, last year I spent part of Christmas day crying over When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, like an absolute grinch. Both are equally valued memories to me, and my TBR will reflect both of these moods, as I’m not quite sure yet in what mood I’ll be this year.
I realize that this list is way to big for me to finish in just the Holidays, which means not all of them will get read this year. Some of them may carry over into January, but especially around the Holidays, I don’t want to force myself to read anything I’m not in the mood for. Some of them may get shelfed for later. Without further a due, let’s get into 10 books on my Holiday-TBR: 5 warm-spirited ones, and 5 less than festive ones to satisfy my inner Grinch.
Christmas level: Happy Santa
1. The Bear and The Nightingale – Katherine Arden I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time, but always put it off until wintertime. It’s fairytale-like, Russian inspired fantasy with some darker undertones, set against a beautiful winter décor. I can’t think of a book I want to read more right now, so I’m 99% positive that this will get read in December.
2. Strange the Dreamer & The Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor The Muse of Nightmares was one of my most anticipated books of 2018, and yet I still don’t own, or have read it yet. Strange the Dreamer was one of my favorite books of its year, and always seemed like a perfect “warm holiday book” to me. My plans for the coming Christmas are therefore to reread Strange the Dreamer, and continue straight on into The Muse of Nightmares, as a little Christmas gift to myself.
3. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
This trilogy is a fall-back title I always have on hand on my shelves. It’s also linked to some of my most beautiful childhood Christmas memories with my mum. Whenever I feel down over the winter period I know this trilogy is there for me, and this year I feel I might need its warm polar-bear-hug in my life. If this doesn’t satisfy my craving for this world, I might also pick up the prequel/equal to this trilogy, The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman.
4. A Portable Shelter – Kirsty Logan Short story collections are another holiday favorite for me. I could have filled another list entirely with collections I’d love to read over the holidays, yet this collection by one of my all-time favorite authors will take priority this year.
5. A Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss So… I’ve been putting this book off ever since I finished The Name of The Wind, mostly because I wanted to savor it for a special time as I know I’ll love this, but also because book three still doesn’t even have a release date and it’s killing me. Still, it is the type of book that is perfectly suited for a holiday period, where I have a bit more time to read and completely immerse myself in this world. If I can contain myself, I might save this one a little longer, but again: I’m not going to force myself too much this time of year, so I might cave and pick it up.
Christmas level: The Grinch
1. Het Beste wat we Hebben – Griet Op de Beek I started reading this Dutch novel a month ago, but stopped because, due to personal circumstances, it hit a little too hard at that time. A very dark novel about dysfunctional family relations, grudges, saying goodbye, and continuing life after trauma. As a favorite of a very close family member of mine who passed away recently, I cannot yet say if I’m up for reading this one yet. However, if not now, than later, as this is a book I’m determined to read at some point in my life.
2. Everything Happens For a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler Picking up a cancer-memoir around Christmas time may seem like a weird choice, yet because of my personal experiences surrounding this time of the year, I’ve discovered I find this very therapeutic. Like When Breath Becomes Air last year, and Healing with Words and The Emperor of All Maladies before that, this years memoir will be Everything Happens For a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved. To be frank, I haven’t heard too much about this one, yet the title had me intrigued from the first time I saw it. I truly hope my experience with this one continues the trend of loving memoirs around this time of year.
3. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying – Nina Riggs So… yeah… Same story pretty much. If one cancer-memoir isn’t enough: I got a second one ready… This one I’ve heard a little more about, and it came highly recommended by some of my friends on both Goodreads as in real life. Again, this is one I’ll definitely read at some point in my life, even if I don’t get to it right now.
4. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah You guys have probably checked out by now; this girl is mental. Who reads a book titled “The Great Alone” at Christmas time…?!? I swear, it wasn’t the title that made me put this on the list, although my inner cynic kind of loves it. No, I actually have had this book on my TBR for some time, but just haven’t found the right moment to pick it up yet. The Alaskan cold setting, heavier themes and Kirstin Hannah’s beautiful writing style however, might make this a perfect holiday-read for me when I’m not in the mood for sappiness.
5. Bridget Jones Diary – Helen Fielding This will be a bit of a bonus item: I’m not expecting to read this necessarily, but again: my inner cynic loves the idea of reading this over Christmas. The Bridget Jones movie has been a guilty pleasure for me for years and I have ever since planned on reading the books one day. Again: I’m not quite expecting it to happen this Christmas, but let’s be honest: this would be the perfect time for it.
No matter what category you fall into: I hope you enjoy your holiday season. So in advance: Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year and most of all: Happy Reading!