What are you reading over Christmas? As the year draws to a close and we break up for the holidays we huddle around the fireplace (metaphorically, no such luxuries in our office I’m afraid) and talk about what we’ll have our noses in this festive period.
Okay! I confess! I’ve never read Little Women. I didn’t read it as a kid, and as an adult I have never been able to get past the cataclysmically ridiculous ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents!’ opener. Why are they all so bloody good? ‘We all love each other very much and we’re community minded and if we stick together we can make it!’ Give me a break. Give me that little brat Kevin McCallister any day. But, look. Timothée Chalamet is in the Greta Gerwig movie and I can’t help but think that before I watch it I should have a better understanding of the source material than what I’ve gleaned from that episode of Friends where Joey keeps The Shining in the freezer. (Season 3, Episode 13: The One Where Monica and Richard are Just Friends, for those playing along at home.) So I’m going in.
For something that’s more my vibe, I’m also planning to read Virginie Despentes’ Vernon Subutex 1. Dark, satirical, punk and apparently ‘achingly cool’, this story of musical obsession and obsoletion seems like the ideal antidote to all that Alcott kindness.
And then, for my final trick; In Lieu of A Memoir. I feel like it’s short enough that I can get through it while someone else is doing the cooking but – much like Christmas dinner – it’ll also be deeply satisfying. I’m going to lose my mind a bit by bashing through this ‘dark take on autofiction [which] spirals towards madness’, then go and have a glass of wine and a roast potato and put myself back together again. Festive.
I’ve had a copy of My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite sitting at home for about two months now, borrowed prematurely from a co-worker who has hopefully forgotten, and I’m determined to read it over the holiday break. I read the first few pages standing in Foyles Southbank (lusting after a different book that’s tragically not out in paperback til March) and was captivated by that cover, Braithwaite’s spare, to-the-point prose, and her absolute kicker of an opening. At that point I hadn’t heard all the hype surrounding her debut but everything since then has only made me more excited, and you know how, sometimes, you just need a reason to finally read something? That’s the meaning of Christmas, folks.
I have managed to acquire a reading copy of Metonymy Press’s Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) as well, which will be my flight-home read, slim as it is. Similarly to My Sister I’ve read the first few passages, and I’m already devastated. This beautiful blue volume tells the story of a trans woman’s life after her death through the eyes of someone who loved her, as well as through fictional encyclopedia entries about her favourite TV show. Some well-balanced tragedy is what I’ll need to offset all that festive sweetness.
To fill up the doldrum days between St. Stephen’s Day and the new year, I have Arsenal Pulp Press’s Sodom Road Exit lined up. Much has been said about this Lambda Literary Award finalist of lesbians and ghosts (and possibly ghostly lesbians?) on this blog already, but I figured it was about time. Losing myself in a haunted abandoned theme park seems just about right for the post-Christmas, pre-end-of-the-decade (how?) #mood.
Christmas for me involves a lot of travelling to and around the continent, and for that purpose I’ve lined up Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World, from Arsenal Pulp Press. I loved Thom’s Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars earlier this year, and anything containing the phrase ‘end of the world’ automatically has my interest. Slim enough to fit into my overstuffed backpack, I’m hoping I Hope We Choose Love will lift some of my post-election blues.
With a bit of luck my Christmas spirits will be lifted too with The Future of Another Timeline and Gideon the Ninth. The former is about travelling women’s activists across centuries banding together to fight misogyny, and the latter is about necromancers. Both include lesbians. I’d say Christmas has come early, but it is in fact exactly on time – I’m halfway through The Psychology of Time Travel right now.
The only flaw in the above is the large portion of car travel, and therefore travel sickness, I’m going to be subjected to. For that I’ve got the audio book of Command and Control ready to go: 20+ hours of meticulously researched American nuclear history. Not exactly festive but bound to keep me interested. Bring on the holidays!
Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!