Need an excuse to escape from unending family gatherings? I’ve met multiple people who say they often re-read Wuthering Heights at Christmas. If dark and moody is your thing, that’s the way to go. (As an eleven-year-old, I read Lord of the Flies one Christmas Day—something I don’t recommend.) Others swear by the following Christmas classics:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This slim morality tale boasts thrills, chills, and ghosts, as well as the requisite happy ending.
A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore. An obvious, albeit short, choice. If you don’t have any second-grade re-enactments of this sweet classic to attend this year, it’s a great fireplace read for an early night with a mug of cocoa.
“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. Another short tale, this widely beloved story will remind you of the true meaning of Christmas, or at least of the ridiculous difficulty of gift-giving.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. If you haven’t read it in a while, December is a great time to pick this favorite up again, as it’s essentially comprised of scenes of hunkering down by the fireside and enjoying the comforts of home.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy. Much more recently published, this literary folktale illustrates true—if difficult—familial love, with long stretches of cold and snow thrown in for good measure.
P.S. Personally, my favorite reading strategy for Christmas is to hunker down with the year’s “beach reads”—that is, everything that got great reviews throughout the year, especially if they’re dark and chilling, in keeping with the winter weather in this part of the world. This year, I plan on tackling Hanya Yanagihara’s gripping smash hit A Little Life, Maggie Nelson’s tribute to the tragic mess of family life, The Argonauts, and, time permitting, the rest of Elena Ferrante’s raved-about Neopolitan trilogy, about a stormy friendship between two troubled women. Almost gloomy enough to send you scampering back to those family parties!