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November 19, 2010

Deanna Raybourn on Seasonal Must-Reads

Posted by Anonymous

DeannaRaybourn.jpgThe Holiday Author Blogs are back, and this year, we’re starting things off with renowned author Deanna Raybourn, whose most recent novel --- DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING: A Lady Julia Gray Novel --- hit stores in early October. Below, Deanna shares a few of her favorite seasonal reads…along with the reasons why some of these books keep finding their way back to her holiday stack year after year.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is my seasonal reading. Just before Thanksgiving, I start to pile up my December books. Not all of them are Christmas books --- and some are not meant to be read from cover to cover --- but each one of them adds a little something sparkly to the season for me. The stack includes both fiction and nonfiction and varies from year to year, but there are a few that will always find their way into my holiday:

*LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott. There are few Christmas scenes more iconic than this one. I read only this chapter, but it is one of my very favorites.

*THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When I was 11, my grandmother gave me this collection of Sherlock Holmes stories for Christmas to foster my love of mysteries --- one of the best presents I have ever gotten. And I still have it!

*THE ROSE REVIVED by Katie Fforde. This is one of Fforde’s earlier works, and to my mind, one of her best. It follows three Englishwomen, who are trying to make a go at their own business --- and their love lives --- and features some charming Christmas scenes.

*SKIPPING CHRISTMAS by John Grisham. The film version nearly killed this one for me, but I read it every year --- and with a healthy dose of schadenfreude. No matter how excessive Christmas gets, at least I never spend $6,000 on it!

*I’M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More, by Anna Getty. This is a new addition from last year’s list that features tips on how to create a more eco-friendly holiday.

*NIGELLA CHRISTMAS by Nigella Lawson. After reading Anna Getty’s book, I feel virtuous enough to indulge in some serious excess, courtesy of Nigella. She cooks the Christmas feasts I never will, but it is enough to live vicariously.

*4:50 FROM PADDINGTON by Agatha Christie. It isn’t particularly nice to murder people at Christmas, but I do love the way Lucy Eyelesbarrow uses her cool competence to cope with the aftermath. And if you are going to be murdered at Christmas, an Agatha Christie book is just the place. (This book --- and “The Mousetrap” --- is what inspired me to write SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY. I felt that I could not consider myself a proper mystery writer until I had locked my characters in a snow-bound country house and killed a few off.)

*THE BODY IN THE BOUILLON: A Faith Fairchild Mystery, by Katherine Hall Page. This is a cozy Christmas mystery featuring caterer-turned-sleuth Faith Fairchild. I particularly love it for introducing me to the wonderful poem, “The Queens Came Late” by Norma Farber.

*JANE AUSTEN’S CHRISTMAS: The Festive Season in Georgian England, by Maria Hubert. A lovely little book that pulls scenes from Jane Austen’s books and compiles them alongside songs and customs of the period. It’s also a perfect gift for an Austen-lover who already has everything.

*The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. I can never get enough of the hand-knit Weasley jumpers and the boxes of lumpy fudge. Fruitcakes, mince pies, treacle tarts --- it’s all there, and it’s all wonderful.

And, of course, each of these books goes very well with a salted caramel hot chocolate, or a pot of spiced tea and something warm from the oven! A retriever or a friendly cat is also highly recommended, and if you can arrange for a light snowfall outside, all the better.

Check back tomorrow as Patti Callahan Henry shares her thoughts on the holiday stories that matter most.