Six Books for Those who Want to Skip Christmas
For those of us who dislike Christmas for whatever reason – maybe it was a bummer of a Holiday when you were young, maybe it reminds you of a loved one who is no longer with you, maybe you just don’t like the grab-n’-grunt consumerism that has eclipsed whatever spiritual meaning the day was supposed to stand for, or just maybe…you hate fat people who wear red – I am with you. I prefer Halloween. Inevitably, some of you are thinking: same here! While others are thinking: you’re an asshole! To the former, I thought I would help you through this year’s Yuletide Blitz. For those of you who prefer The Misfits to Christmas Carols, beer over eggnog, and relaxation over running from relative-to-relative, fear not! I’ve offer to you a reading list of books completely incongruous with the Holiday! So, if you’re favorite Christmas movie is The Texas Chainsaw massacre, brother/sister, I hope you like the following.
WARNING: Most of these books share a tenuous connection to Christmas at best because that’s the point of the article. Read the damn intro, why don’t ya!
1. A hard-to-get-your-hands-on-throwback: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist
Best known for The Riftwar Cycle series, Feist goes dark with this 1988 supernatural thriller about a family of five who has just moved into The Old Kessler Place’ (nothing could possibly go wrong there), a home set amidst dense, dark woods in upstate New York where they are beset by, well, supernatural things.
2. And you thought your family was nuts: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
In the only book having to do with X-mas on this list, Franzen is in full stride, tracing the lives of a Midwestern family of five (hey!) as the matriarch, Enid Lambert, attempts to reel her wayward children – successful but depressive Gary, sexually confused chef Denise, and disgraced professor Chip – back to St. Jude for one final (Alfred, the patriarch, is slowly being eaten away by Parkinson’s and dementia) Christmas. You are certain to laugh, cringe, and if you have a heart, cry.
3. My girlfriend/boyfriend just dumped me and I can’t return this, it’s engraved!: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Talk about lists…this book is full of recently-dumped-record-store-owner Rob Fleming’s hilarious top five lists. From his top-five most memorable breakups to his top-five Side one, track one songs, you are guaranteed to feel a whole lot better about yourself thanks to Hornby’s incredible (and must be noted, British) humor. Or you won’t.
4. My favorite Holiday is Halloween: Hell House by Richard Matheson
Despite being the oldest novel on this list (published in 1971), this remains the single best haunted house story ever published. Matheson’s work has inspired several horribly-adapted films (I Am Legend, and yes, Hell House starring Roddy McDowell, yes Cornelius from Planet of the Apes) because, frankly, it is impossible to reproduce something so well done the first time. The set-up may seem cliché in 2013: a psychic, a paranormal investigator, and a medium spend a few nights in a haunted house (no punch line) and horrid events begin to unfold. Matheson blends sexual tension with old-fashioned frights and this book easily eclipses anything it has inspired.
5. Happy Hanukkah: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
Set in an alternate reality where a temporary settlement for Jewish immigrants was established in Sitka, Alaska in 1941, the book further supposes that Israel was destroyed in 1948. In ‘present day,’ the story follows the divorced, alcoholic Detective Meyer Landsman and his partner, Berko Shemets as they investigate the murder of Sitka’s most powerful crime boss. Chabon channels his best Raymond Chandler here as a fun but convoluted plot almost takes a back seat to hilarious and wonderfully developed characters.
6. A Christmas Bonus that has NOTHING (nothing, I tell you!) to do with Christmas: It by Stephen King
Why did I pick It? Presumably, you may have some time off around the Holiday and you should spend it reading. If you have seen the movie and not read the 1,138 page novel, you are selling yourself short…way, way short. This is King’s most twisted and disturbed novel by a walk – sorry Pet Cemetery fans. If you’re unsure why, you just need to read it and here’s a minor spoiler: the ending is way different as far as Bev is concerned.
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