I am definitely someone who benefits from small goals and personal to-do lists. At this time of year most of my time, including weekends, is spent packing orders and acquiring bruises from tripping over mailbags, so it's good to have a reminder to stop and do something different. This year I thought I'd actually write down a winter bucket list (inspired by A Beautiful Mess, love their podcast) of Christmassy things to do at home.
I've started with a Christmas reading list and am hoping to read or re-read most of these this season. Some aren't strictly Christmas-themed but have a wintery and cold vibe, perfect for a cosy read beside a fire. Under my rules, dipping into these for a chapter or so still qualifies as done, time to tick! Tip no. 1 for any list, make it achievable and if possible write on there something you've already finished!
A Christmas reading list
- Each year my local Waterstones has a table filled to the brim of Christmas murder mysteries (my favourite genre), often old re-published books by authors who'd otherwise be out of print. I still haven't read last year's purchase (from that time when I spent most of Christmas alone but weirdly accomplished nothing.) Hopefully this year I'll finish a Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J. Jefferson Farjeon.
- A Christmas Railway Mystery by Edward Marston is part of a very easy-to-read detective series set in the 1800s. It's probably in the 'you'll never re-read' category, so I'd suggest looking in your local library - mine has the whole series. All the same I've forgotten what happened so I think I'll give it another go one Sunday afternoon.
- Snow, a poem by Louis MacNeice (from The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice). I went to school with his great-niece, my first interaction with anyone 'famous', and my introduction to his work was not any more sophisticated than that. This was a teenager I went to gigs with in village halls around the country when we barely had our driving licenses, in cargo pants and DM boots and somehow the family connection came to light on one of those drives. Still, I like his poetry very much. (Also this travel book Letters from Iceland of correspondence between him and W.H. Auden.)
- The Snow Tourist by Charlie English - from a huge collection of similarly-themed travel books I acquired at a time when I thought I'd go to the Antarctic for a significant birthday. Spoiler: I didn't.
- Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, which has more Christmas scenes than I remembered. I've already ticked this off by watching the wonderful BBC adaptation while writing this piece (under my rules, this qualifies). Reading this book as a child gave me one of my first experiences of London, and I've often thought of it fondly when near the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the area where it's set.
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, where it's always winter but never Christmas. I don't think I've ever read it the whole way through. I love C.S. Lewis (the last paragraph of The Last Battle, the last book in the Narnia series, is one of my favourite pieces of prose, full of hope) so a few chapters must be achievable!
- Night before Christmas by Robert Sabuda (I love a classic pop-up book.) I always thought I'd collect pop-up books as an adult (as well as snow globes.) So far I have one of each which I consider great progress. Small steps!
Have you any suggestions of wintery books (or maybe poems might be more achievable at this point!) I should add?