Season’s readings

With the holidays now upon us, I want to wish every one in the Reading Room a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or just a relaxing week.

Every year I tell myself that I’m going to really get into the festive spirit of the season, but invariably I find that I’m behind on some project of a usually grim and depressing character. For instance, this year I’ll be finishing some work on Ambrose Bierce and writing a long piece about the celebrated cynic and misanthrope. His stories—contes cruels set during the Civil War, or just plain old tales of the uncanny—are quite wonderful, but hardly what one would call seasonally appropriate.

And when I finish with old Ambrose, I need to turn to Robert Aickman, that master of enigmatic and unsettling “strange stories.” Again, not quite what one thinks about for this time of year. He’s not a cozy kind of ghost-story writer, by any means.

Oh, well. There’s always 2012. At least I’m not like a writer friend of mine who hated Christmas so much that he always cranked out, under a pen name, a pornographic novel during the last week of the year.

But what about other members of the Reading Room: What writers or books will you be enjoying during the lazy evenings between now and January 2? Do you turn to your annual Christie for Christmas? Or try to valiantly finish up some of those monster best-sellers so that you can start afresh in the new year? Do you review the highlights of your own past year in books? Or perhaps you plan to read aloud “A Christmas Carol” or “The Blue Carbuncle” or “The Gift of the Magi” to your assembled family, as you all sip hot cocoa around the hearth? Please share your bookish holiday traditions with others in the Reading Room.

Michael Dirda

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