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December Bookshelf: Wintery reads to keep you roasting this Christmas season

Tara Ghias recommends a selection of wintery tales to dive into as term draws to a close. From family favourites to more somber and chilling reads, there is sure to be something for everyone to read this holiday.

By Tara Ghias, Third Year History

Tara Ghias recommends a selection of wintery tales to dive into this winter holiday. From family favourites to more somber and chilling reads, grab a cuppa and get ready to unwind with a new book.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis

Starting off our list is a festive read that many people will be familiar with because of the 2005 movie adaptation. The Chronicles of Narnia are the world-wide best-selling fantasy novels by C.S Lewis, beginning with the first and most well-known book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

The series follows the Pensive siblings and the adventures they encounter in the far-off land of Narnia, where they meet mythical creatures and fight valiant battles against evil, notably the White Witch. The strong theme of winter and the ice makes it the perfect book to read during December; best to wrap yourself up warm for the voyage into the world of Narnia. It shows the progression of the seasons, winter to spring, throughout its narrative, includes religious allegory’s about Christianity and poses questions about the duality of betrayal and heroism.

It is the definition of a winter classic.

The Chronicles of Narnia. | Pexels / Pixabay

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The next book upon our list was an easy choice for me, perhaps because it is my favourite novel of all time. However, it has themes of family, love and friendship woven through its story while also being narrated by DEATH as well.

Set in Nazi Germany during the course of the second world war, the story follows a young girl named Liesel, who is fostered in by this middle-age German couple, after it is suggested that her parents have been transported to concentration camps. She builds up this loving relationship with her new father, as he teaches her to read and write; she discovers a fascination with books and even goes as far as stealing them from book burnings. The family’s life takes a dramatic turn once they have to hide a Jewish man in their basement from the authorities. Liesel befriends this young man, named Max, and a bond emerges between them through their love for books and reading.

The reason why this book is perfect to read during winter is that it is the season for thankfulness and generosity. Liesel and her family’s small acts of courage in defying the Nazi regime, to protect Max, restores faith in humanity and that differences aside all people should be treated as equals. The close link between love and mortality, set in the backdrop of so much death and war, reminds us of all this festive season of how thankful we should be for what we have.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

My next recommendation for this winter period is more of a Christmas classic, and a dream that many of us hoped to achieve when we were younger; getting onboard the Polar Express and travelling up to the North Pole. Written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is a beautiful and visually stunning story, with its landscapes across the snowy north mountains and the wintery forests. The incorporation of Santa and Christmas Elves into the story defines it as a good-feel Christmas tale.

The popularity of this tale generated the Tom Hanks led animated film of the same name in 2004, as Van Allsburg words were transformed for the wide screen, using techniques of motion capture to bring the vividness and frosty imagery of the drawing to life. From then it has become a universally loved Christmas film, well-liked among all ages.

It is classified as a children’s book, nonetheless, the merry mood it transports you into has earned its title as a classic Christmas story.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

A classic story, and Emily Bronte’s only published novel, that everyone should regard once in their life, Wuthering Heights follows the characters of Heathcliff and Catherine as they navigate love and loss, set in the backdrop of Victorian England. Their location of the wilderness symbolises their freedom from the repressive ideals of the eighteenth century, and a break away from the traditional Victorian literature, set in big city landscapes.

The novel has a dark tone to it, dealing with complicated relationships and tackling themes such as violence and aggression. Following the transformation of Heathcliff and Catherine from their young lives to adults is an experience; Bronte smashes the conventional writing of her period and delves into the deep psychological analysis of loneliness and vulnerability, interwoven in her tale as well.

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Another sad and sombre story, The Lovely Bones follows the story of 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who on is raped and murdered by her neighbour on her way home. She watches, from her own personal heaven, as her family and friends struggle to cope and move on from her sudden death. Alice Sebold uses the interesting outlook of Susie to tell the story from; viewing the events unfolding from a young girl changes our perception of the story and adds a more personal element to it.

Though a difficult topic to read about, Sebold captures the essence of innocence, childhood and how the family unit perseveres throughout all the horrors of life. Similar to The Book Thief, The Lovely Bones prompts us during this winter to remember how important the values of friendship, forgiveness and eternal faith can be.

What will you be reading this winter holiday?

Featured Image: Epigram / Noa Damelin