Forget about your family, stuff the turkey, and screw Xmas telly – it’s all about what you’re going to be reading over the festive period. Here’s what the Turnaround Marketing Team will be tucking into over the holiday.
Every Christmas break I always imagine myself sitting around my family’s super comfy house reading and drinking, maybe with some snow outside. In reality it never snows anymore, and I end up with hardly any free time to read – I don’t go back to my hometown very often so when I do I’m always busy. This year I’m not going back North, I’m staying in Hackney with my girlfriend. And as it’s just the two of us, I’m hoping I might actually be able to do nothing but sit around and drink and read (and maybe watch a couple of Sandra Bullock films).
This year, I’m really looking forward to reading The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai. It’s been on the top of my pile for weeks. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press, it’s a sci-fi novel about a community of parthenogenic women who are sent into exile by powerful men who threaten them with extinction. It features a doctor named Kirilow and her lover Peristrophe, a ‘starfish’ who can regenerate her own limbs. Kirilow ends up having to come out of exile to help citizens of nearby Salt Water City who are suffering from a mysterious flu. It sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.
I’m also going to read Berlin by Jason Lutes. I’ve read the first two parts a good few times – I love them. This year Lutes released the third and final part, and I received the gift of a stupidly beautiful hardback collecting the whole story. It’s about my favourite city between the wars, and it features a lot of snow for all the snow we are lacking by living here.
I’m a big fan of Nordic noir – it’s what got me into crime fiction in the first place. I especially like sitting under a blanket, drinking mulled wine, and watching snowy scenes – so TV shows like The Killing, Trapped, and The Bridge are perfect. All the wintry weather sets itself up to be absorbed over Xmas so this year I’ll be reading The Girl Without Skin. Set in Greenland, a country with a riveting geographical and socio-political environment, this book combines Inuit folklore, arctic politics, and Viking history with a haunting mystery.
As previously discussed I usually re-read The Hobbit, but this year I will be swapping Middle-Earth for Middle England, the new novel by Jonathan Coe
– returning to characters and themes from earlier works (so it will feel like a very strange family reunion), and tackling the state of the nation in an entirely inimitable way.
My family aren’t real big on Christmas these days, and as an Australian expat it often doesn’t make sense for me to make the 24hr each way trek home for the holidays, so I usually do Christmas solo. All my friends go home for a few days and I get the house all to myself, bunking down on the couch with a bottle of wine, a film marathon, and a stack of books. It is, quite frankly, the best. So cosy. In the first few weeks of December I start stockpiling my reading material in preparation – usually things that I know will be engaging enough for me to blast through in a day or so. This year I’ve got Hal Schrieve’s Out of Salem; an LGBT zombie-werewolf YA set in a version of Salem, Oregon where magic is typical and the government is becoming ever more oppressive by the day. It’s maybe not the most festive of books, but it does feature literally every cool thing, so who cares?
The rest of my reading stack is sort of eclectic; Lincoln in the Bardo (which I have been coveting for months), William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms, Fun Home, and What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. What a dream.
I love sci-fi with all my heart, though I feel I don’t read enough of it these days. Thankfully, here comes Side Life by Steve Toutonghi, a genre-bending, time-travelling, philosophical adventure of a book, if the reviews are to be believed. When down-on-his-luck tech entrepreneur Vin takes a job house-sitting a Seattle mansion whose owner has disappeared, he finds three mysterious pods in a secret basement, one of which contains a woman in suspended animation. He also finds a notebook full of circuit diagrams, intricate illustrations of body parts, and a hell of a mystery. Not particularly Christmassy you may think, but it’s my week off work and I feel like spending it in a sci-fi pod of pure escapism.
Christmas (and the weeks leading up to it) is all about food, from mince pies by the shedload in the office to discounted stollen in Morrisons. For those of us with issues around eating it’s a bit of an anxiety-inducing minefield. I mentioned Ruby Tandoh in my feature of You Have The Right to Remain Fat – and I’m finally going to get around to reading her work, having treated myself to Eat Up!, the ex-GBBO contestant’s rather joyful book celebrating appetite, food, and the ways in which we are what we eat. I may or may not have begun it already, and I definitely love it. It’s making me feel like I can get a start on my New Year’s resolution to stress less about food already, before this year’s even over.
I’ve booked two weeks off from Christmas this year so I am planning on getting a lot of reading done! One of the things I’m most hoping to dig into is Claudia Gray’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan; it’s just come out in paperback, and is all about Leia as a young girl and how she comes to join the Rebellion and fight against the Empire. Not only is Claudia a fantastic writer, and writer of Leia, but I’m also putting into operation this holiday Project Get My Family to Watch Star Wars, because they still haven’t, and sooner or later certain wrongs must be righted.
Then there’s Christmas proper, the one day of the year where family members (aka me) are not allowed to lock themselves in a room of choice and do something anti-social. My solution to this in past years have been my trusty handheld, nothing says spending time with the family like sitting in the same room as them while beating up Kirby in Super Smash Bros. However, this year I think I will turn to a trusty book, or rather Makoto Shinkai’s splendid looking She and Her Cat from Kodansha Comics. Written by the director of the brilliant Your Name, it’s a short, quiet, meditative story about a young woman navigating the trials of newly living alone with her cat. A perfect cosy Christmas read to read with my own fluffy moggy.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year all!