Christmas Puzzling

I have said before that this time between Christmas and Epiphany is one of my favourites in the whole year. Any stress of getting ready for Christmas should be over and the time is more or less your own to spend as you like. Of course, I do have to go to work so most of the days are spoken for but the evenings are so precious. Much of my time is spent curled up with a book by the tree – Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday is my current choice. An old favourite which gets re-read every Christmas.

This year I have the added pastime of a jigsaw puzzle. I never had much patience for these when I was little – books were far more exciting – but I did enjoy finishing off the puzzle my sister had at her wedding a few years ago and this year I couldn’t resist these bookish puns.

I’m only spending half an hour or so at a time on it but I am very much enjoying it and it turns out that when it comes to books I have quite a talent for remembering where they fit. How surprising!

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is a time when I love to read. Obviously I love to read at all times but there is something extra special about curling up with a book by the fire and the Christmas tree. Every time December comes around I look forward to that cosy feeling.

However, what I fail to remember is that I don’t normally manage to find that feeling until Christmas is actually here. Specifically, when we hand out the books for Jólabókaflóðið on Christmas Eve. There is just too much going on before then to relax properly. There are presents to buy or make, cards to write and wrapping to be done. This year, even when I sit down for my break at work it has been hard to just read – I’ve had the added pressure of my stationery shop to contend with and lunch breaks are excellent for admin.

We are nearly there now though. The cards have all been sent, the presents are assembled if not wrapped and I am ready to sit down on Friday evening and just read. I can’t wait!

Advent Reading

This week my main bookish delight has actually been a cookbook – which is unusual for me. I love to bake but rarely make the time for it – there are so many other things going on!

This particular book though is Advent by Anja Dunk and is a collection of ‘festive German bakes to celebrate the coming of Christmas’. I love the Advent season, as things slowly get more Christmassy and we spend more evenings curled up by the fire with books and delicious things to eat. Reading this book has definitely brought me that cosy, hygge feeling – the author has included lots of personal anecdotes as well as recipes – and I have been loving it.

I have only baked one thing so far – the Dattel-Walnussmakronen – but they were the most delicious thing. So light and airy, but still rich and chewy. They are incredibly moreish and I will be indulging in some this evening when I start my card writing. More recipes will definitely be tried soon!

Christmas Bookshelf

Yesterday was very exciting for me as it saw our box of Christmas books brought down and unpacked. These are books I haven’t seen since January and are real Christmas stories – as in they are actually about Christmas rather than just books I happen to like reading at this time of year.

Most of them are old friends – books like Lucy and Tom’s Christmas which I have read again and again since I was very small. There is even a picture book which stars my childhood friends and myself. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t read these ones.

Others are more recent acquisitions. Books which I have read once or twice but loved enough to keep for more Christmases. I won’t manage to read all of them every year but I love to see them nonetheless. Each of them brings back fond memories and they make a wonderful display.

Are there any books you particularly love to read at Christmas?

Jólabókaflóð

I am sure that by now most of you will have heard of the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð or book flood on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t, in Iceland it is traditional to give each other books on Christmas Eve and then settle down to read them and eat chocolate.

For several years I have wanted to adopt this practice for myself and this year, finally, I managed it.

We actually had company for dinner so we couldn’t spend hours reading but once they had gone we shared our books and settled down to finish the day. I received a lovely copy of Dear Enemy – the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. It is one I have read before but I wanted a nice vintage copy because my previous one had been print on demand and didn’t contain the pictures which add so much to the story.

I wasn’t disappointed either – I loved the pictures and was once again swept up by the story. It was the best way to wind down on Christmas Eve and I will definitely be hoping to do the same thing again many times in the future.

Cosy Comforting Christmas

Christmas reading time is here! One of my favourite things about Christmas is the long, dark evenings which can be spent in front of the fire with a board game or a book. It is just so cosy and wonderful.

It has to be the right kind of books though and I have made a tentative stack of books I may read over the next few weeks. Or possibly not. The whole point is to read exactly what I want and what makes me happy.

Most Christmases I try to read lots of my favourite children’s Christmas stories but this year not all of the books are obviously Christmassy. Some of them do have hidden Christmas scenes – I am reading What Katy Did at School primarily for the wonderful Christmas box the girls receive – but what I really want right now are cosy comfort reads. In fact, I have been looking forward to these books for weeks – which makes me think that perhaps I should read more of them throughout the year!

I have just finished reading Daddy-Long-Legs (I still love it as much as I ever did) and have moved on to Katy which I have not read for years. I know I am going to thoroughly enjoy the next few weeks!

Do you have Christmas reading (or other) traditions? I would love to hear them.

A Year of Reading

2018 was a mixed reading year for me. I had weeks when I was trying to read at every possible moment. It was like being a child again, sneaking in a few pages when I should really be doing something else. Then I had a month or two when I struggled to read anything at all. Nevertheless, I find that I have managed to read 91 books this year which is pretty good going I think. Especially when one considers the length of some of them – War and Peace is a pretty weighty tome!

I have kept a reading record for the past several years – just a list of books and the months in which I read them. I used to record start and end dates for each book but I couldn’t really keep up with that! Not that I’m completely sold on this layout – I record a book in the month I start it but if I am reading it for a while the following month looks very short of reading!

To finish up my year I have once again been reading my favourite wintry children’s books. Plus the odd new ones – I loved Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories and also Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford (that one obviously not a children’s book!). It is my favourite way to spend the winter evenings.

A very Happy New Year to you.

Christmas Reading

For me, reading at Christmas is all about comfort. Most years I read Little Women and quite often something like Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday as well. Last year I exclusively read all of my favourite wintry childhood books throughout December – things like The Box of Delights and The Rat-a-Tat Mystery. It was wonderful.

Part of every Christmas is reading Lucy and Tom’s Christmas. I love Shirley Hughes’ illustrations and I always look forward to this one. This year, I treated myself to her new Christmas book – Snow in the Garden – and I am very much looking forward to reading it!

I started my Christmas reading a little late this year but my first book was brand new (to me). I found this on the book stall in our local market and I couldn’t resist it!