A Good Book for Christmas

Time to read.

That three-word phrase is edged in gold for me because I hardly ever read anymore. Not real reading. Actually turning the pages. I’m serious. I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to audio books while performing other tasks, like driving, cooking, and doing laundry. And when I do read, it’s usually a book I keep in my handbag for those times when I’m obliged to wait—at the dentist’s office, for example, or the hair salon. I just don’t take time anymore to sit down and read a book.

Except at Christmastime.

Christmas at our cottage in northern Wisconsin has become one of the rare occasions when I allow myself the luxury and pure enjoyment of reading. Even now I’m making plans.

Let me set the stage: Outside, snow is falling—those massive flakes that float down from the sky, one by one. The Christmas tree is lit, and a fire is blazing in the hearth. At my elbow is a mug of steaming spiced tea. Or possibly, depending upon the hour, a glass of red wine. The dog is curled up next to me on the sofa. I open my current book and lose myself in the fictional world.

I’m one of those odd people who actually love winter. Maybe it’s my Scandinavian genes, the Danish concept of hygge—the intentional enjoyment of the colder seasons and the excuse they provide to cozy up and slow down the pace of life.

So what am I planning to read this year? Five books in two weeks is my plan. Since I haven’t read them yet, I’ll share some of the back-cover copy:

1. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Called one of the most anticipated thrillers of the winter, this book is first on my list.

“During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirty-something friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together—a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind. They arrive on December 30, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world. Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead…and another one of them did it. Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?”

 

2. The Bangalore Detectives Club, a debut mystery by Harini Nagendra (coming May 2022)

Since I’ve been asked to read an ARC of this book, I’ve already dipped in enough to know that fans of Sujata Massey’s Purveen Mistry series and Vaseem Kahn’s Baby Ganesh Agency series (like me!) are going to love this book, set in 1920s Bangalore, India.

“When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life. But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace—and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene. When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer…. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for maths, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband.”

3. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

I read at least one Agatha Christie every year, and this one is perfect for the season. The setting is Gorston Hall in the English countryside.

“The Lee family has gathered for one last Christmas with their patriarch, the tyrannical ex-diamond trader Simon Lee. When Lee is found dead in his locked bedroom, Hercule Poirot must put his skills to the test to solve the crime and prevent another.”

4. The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

Thorogood is a new author for me, but since he’s been compared to Richard Osman, and since he happens to be the creator of the British TV series Death in Paradise, I have high hopes.

“Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whiskey to drink, and to keep herself busy, she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper. One evening while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local vicar. Together they are the Marlow Murder Club.”

5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

A bit of a confession: I started this book on Audible for my book club last month and got just far enough to know I wanted to read the rest. The Boston Globe said, “Of all the books that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life…here is a novel so gorgeously written that it transports you.” FYI—Hamnet, the name of Shakespeare’s only son, is an alternate spelling for Hamlet.

“In 1580s England during the Black Plague, a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known…for her unusual gifts as a healer. Once she settles with her husband in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is just taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever. A shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time.”

Five books in two weeks. Can I read them all?

What books are on your list for the holidays? If I get through my list, I may need suggestions.

Comment below or on the Miss Demeanors Facebook page.

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Coming in December! Comment on any blog in the month of December and you will be in the running for a signed copy of Jane Cleland’s latest Josie Prescott mystery, The Jane Austen Letters. On December 18th, Jane will join us for a special interview.

2 comments

  1. I just finished a book that’s going to be on my list to reread every December, Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan. It had everything I enjoy in holiday book – books, a bookshop, a Christmas miracle, the Cotswolds. Every year I reread Craig Johnson’s The Spirit of Steamboat. And, this December, I’ll be reading Nora Roberts’ Becoming. Off to Ireland in that one, my favorite setting.

    Connie, I loved your post. Thank you for sharing your reading list.

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