Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Christmas Reading | The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Stories

When it comes to reading material around Christmas time I think you can't go wrong with a collection of short stories. Not only are they great for dipping in and out of when you have less time and more commitments, but also because of the variety in content. Christmas is the kind of holiday where a lot is going on, family visits are more frequent, and there is generally just a lot of hustle and bustle - all of this is reflected in The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Stories and more! My favourite of the inclusions is the ghost stories that featured here and there, I don't know about you, but I love a good ghost story during the winter time.
 
The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Stories contains eighteen short stories written by a host of different authors all compiled in to the one book by Dennis Pepper. In the introduction, Dennis Pepper shares that he curated this book in order to present a book of Christmas stories that are 'different', and that they are.
 
It would be impossible to talk about all the stories that feature within without having the longest blog post known to man, so I'm going to share a few of my personal favourites.
 
The Night Is Freezing Fast by Thomas F. Monteleone
This is the third story within the collection and the first to hold my attention fully. The story features just four characters, takes place within the space of a few hours (if that), has a slightly darker premise than your traditional Christmas tale, but highlights the lengths you would go to for your loved ones.
 
Swiftbuck's Christmas Carol by Francis Beckett
Featuring some well known ghosts first encountered in A Christmas Carol, we are reacquainted with the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The story itself is quite light hearted in nature but takes a deeper look in to human behaviour and how people change given the period of time.
 
The Kissing Gate by John Gordon
Being a ghost story, I was bound to enjoy this one. When a boy and girl meet each other in an expanse of field, we learn that they both think the other to be a ghost... But which one actually is? Mysterious throughout, the piecing together really captures you.
 
The Carol Singer by Chris Naylor
The shortest story within the collection at just one double sided page, the plot that's packed in to this short story is both atmospheric and haunting, not easily done in so few words.
 
Not Wanting The Blue Cracker by Dennis Hamley
We join a family on Christmas Day as they are to sit down for their Christmas feast... But all is not going to plan. Not Wanting The Blue Cracker really focuses on families around the festive season, especially the dysfunctional elements of a family. I think this is a story we could all relate to on some level or other.
 
I could go on sharing beyond these five stories, but these are the ones that still stick with me even after reading.
 
I picked up this collection of stories at the library on a whim, in fact, it is this book that my Christmas Reading feature has spawned from, and yet I think this particular book is one that could be overlooked when compiling a festive reading list because of its age - being 14 years since it's release, many would turn to newer collections but if you're able to get your hands on The Young Oxford Book of Christmas Stories, I'd highly recommend giving it ago.
 
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2 comments

  1. I agree on short stories for Christmas -- they are great! And I have a stack of picture books and Christmas treasuries to read with my son in the coming weeks -- one of the best parts of the season :)

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    1. It's wonderful 'discovering' Christmas through the beautiful words and illustrations found inside children's books. We've already begun our winter oriented reading :-)

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