For as long as I can remember, I have loved Christmas, and I am the sort of person who gets very enthusiastic about the things that she loves! The first of December marks the beginning of the season for me, the day when the much-anticipated Christmas activities begin: the tree goes up, the carols go on, and the gingerbread gets baked (or at least, the first batch of many). As someone who loves Christmas, Christmas-themed, seasonally-appropriate books have a way of making me go all wonderfully gooey inside, and over the last few years I have built up a bit of collection of favourites that I look forward to reading once December finally rolls back around. One of these favourites is Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I actually first read this in about March of this year, as it isn’t the most easily accessible of books, and that just happened to be when I finally got my hands on it. I loved the book, and so was very excited when I heard that there was an unexpected sequel coming out in October of this year! I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the Australian publishers, Allen & Unwin (oh, how I love working in a bookshop), and when I did I gave myself a stern talking to about how I wasn’t to read it until the first of December, no matter how much I wanted to. I was able to stick to my guns and hold off on reading until that fateful day, and cracking open that cover marked the beginning of my holiday reads, which I thought I would share with you here!
The Adventures of Dash and Lily!
As I mentioned above, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily from it’s Australian publishers, after reading and loving Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares earlier this year. The first book follows the adventures of the two titular characters, Dash and Lily, both 16 and living in New York at Christmas. Lily leaves a red notebook next to one of her favourite books in one of New York’s best loved second hand bookshops. In this bookshop are a series of questions to answer and instructions to be followed; Dash is the unwitting individual who finds the red notebook and chooses to answer and follow. This decision leads both Dash and Lily on a festive adventure across New York city, as they slowly get to know each other through the words exchanged in the red notebook. I loved the idea that started this story off, and following along from each of the characters alternating perspectives is fascinating, knowing both sides of the story long before anyone else does! There are some wonderfully diverse, hilarious characters, and I found myself chuckling away to myself in public more than once!
While I was excited when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was also intrigued; the story had ended at what seemed to be an ending, and I was interested to see where the authors chose to take their characters. I was very, very happy with the direction the authors chose, and I actually think I preferred the sequel to its predecessor, though it is a very close call! They touched on some really difficult topics in a way that was respectful and honest, without being overly morose, and I thought they did a wonderful job of portraying the incredibly turbulent emotions and experiences young adults can go through as they grow and mature, figuring out who they are and who they want to be! Both books are wonderfully festive, and they very much helped me get into the Christmas spirit!
Seasonally-Appropriate Short Story Collections
Stephanie Perkins is a wonderful author, and is also, it turns out, a wonderful collector and editor! She has edited two short story collections, each featuring short stories by a variety of different authors which all share a similar seasonal theme. The stories featured in My True Love Gave To Me centre around Christmas and the New Year, while those in Summer Days and Summer Nights centre around the hot, balmy days of summer. The stories are as diverse as the authors who wrote them, and I do believe there is something in them for everyone! As a fan of YA literature, I found them to be a wonderful way of discovering new authors whose writing I loved, and I have gone on to read a number of series’ after loving their author’s contributions to these anthologies!
While Summer Days and Summer Nights isn’t intended to be a Christmas read, as someone who lives in Australia, it feels surprisingly appropriate! To me, Christmas is a time for swimming in the sunshine, or listening to thunderstorms roll by; a time for fresh tropical fruit, the sweet relief of a cold drink, the the calming hum of an air conditioner. I’ve never seen a white Christmas, and the only snowflakes I’m likely to see this year are the gold and glittery time! The stories in Summer Days and Summer Nights do a wonderful job of invoking the languorous, relaxed, summery feeling that I connect with Christmas, and is a perfect read for lounging beside the pool!
One Last Collection
The last book I have on my Christmas reading list is Let It Snow, a collection of three short stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. I first read this a few years ago, when I was going through my John Green phase (I read all of his books in the space of about 2 months, and utterly enjoyed myself as I did it), but I somehow managed to forget about it. I only remembered it a month or so ago, when I was crafting my Christmas reading list in my head, and I realised I have completely forgotten what the stories are about! This is actually gotten me quite excited,because while I can’t remember the stories, I do remember enjoying them, and I am very much looking forward to reading them in the days leading up to Christmas!
Do you like to plan the books you’ll read around the time of year and the things that are happening in your life like I do? If you do, do you have any festive reads that you love to read this time of year? If you do, please let me know, as I would love to add a few more titles to my Christmas list for next year!
Also, one last little thing – how adorable are my jingle bell cat ears? I found them a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love them! I have work the matching earrings to a couple of Christmas parties, but I am saving the ears to wear when I’m working at the Bookshop the last week before Christmas. I have a feeling my co workers will learn to hate them, but at least it will make it easy to find me in store – just listen for the jingle!