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Friday, December 11, 2015

My holiday reading

When I’m reminded that Christmas is approaching, I go straight into Bah Humbug mode. First, I can’t understand why Christmas cards and general festive items appear in the shops alongside the Halloween costumes. I mean, that’s October, people. October!

As the days/weeks pass, I begin to stress about everything I need to do - all those presents to buy, wrap and, more often than not, mail to far-flung places. The cards needs writing and, naturally, the friend’s new address that I scribbled on a piece of paper months ago has vanished. Slade’s Merry Christmas, Everybody blasting out from every shop in the land does nothing to improve my bad mood. 

Or perhaps it does because in an instant I change from “Bah Humbug - Christmas should be banned” to “OMG, Christmas is coming. Let’s party!”. The decorations come out, yet more twinkling lights are bought and I can’t wait for the festivities to begin. I get to eat lots, yes? And drink even more, right? I can sit in front of a blazing log fire with a glass in one hand and my Kindle in the other without feeling guilty. Bliss!

In readiness, I’ve loaded up the Kindle. I’ll be making a start on Silent Nights.


Christmas is a mysterious, as well as magical, time of year. Strange things can happen, and this helps to explain the hallowed tradition of telling ghost stories around the fireside as the year draws to a close. Christmas tales of crime and detection have a similar appeal. When television becomes tiresome, and party games pall, the prospect of curling up in the warm with a good mystery is enticing - and much better for the digestion than yet another helping of plum pudding. Crime writers are just as susceptible as readers to the countless attractions of Christmas. Over the years, many distinguished practitioners of the genre have given one or more of their stories a Yuletide setting. The most memorable Christmas mysteries blend a lively storyline with an atmospheric evocation of the season. Getting the mixture right is much harder than it looks.This book introduces readers to some of the finest Christmas detective stories of the past. Martin Edwards' selection blends festive pieces from much-loved authors with one or two stories which are likely to be unfamiliar even to diehard mystery fans. The result is a collection of crime fiction to savour, whatever the season.


Then I’ll move on to The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries.

Here, for your yuletide reading pleasure, are the collected crimes of Christmases Past and Present: sixty classic Christmas crime stories gathered together in the largest anthology of its kind ever assembled. And its an all-star line-up: Sherlock Holmes, Brother Cadfael, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Ellery Queen, Rumpole of the Bailey, Inspector Morse, Inspector Ghote, A.J. Raffles, Nero Wolfe and many, many more of the world's favourite detectives and crime fighters face unscrupulous Santas, festive felonies, deadly puddings, and misdemeanors under the mistletoe. Almost any kind of mystery you're in the mood for - suspense, pure detection, humour, cozy, private eye, or police procedural - can be found within these pages.
Includes stories from (many of which are difficult or nearly impossible to find anywhere else): Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, Isaac Asimov, Sara Paretsky, Ed McBain, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Mary Higgins Clark, H.F Keating, Donald E. Westlake and John Mortimer and more.


I can’t wait.

What will you be reading over the festivities? Do you have any recommendations for great holiday stories?


Happy holidays, everyone!

10 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

I'm totally with you on the back-and-forth emotions of Christmas season. I was on a high last week, chugging along as I raced daughter to various Nutcracker ballet practices, dress rehearsals, and performances. This week, I hit a slump and was totally "bah-humbug." In hindsight, I probably wore myself out!

I write RS, but my pleasure reading choices are often contemporary romance, so I'm looking forward to the following, which includes a story by a friend Liz Talley: http://amzn.com/B00V3UU3JY. And Jill Shalvis has a new book coming out around Christmas that I'm excited to read!

Shirley Wells said...

Hey, Anne Marie, I'm hoping I don't go into a slump having dragged myself out of it, lol. Ah, yes, I shall add the Jill Shalvis book to my tottering TBR. Always exciting to get her latest.

Toni Anderson said...

I like to think I'm all sweetness and light but I find it generally very stressful. I've given up on cards because mine are all overseas and I never do it in time. The kids always have their lists and then change it at the last moment! But I'll be in the uk for Christmas and NY (I'll wave from the M6,Shirley!). Books, I have so many I want to read. I think I'm going to impose a no work rule and just try and get through some of the TBR pile. I just downloaded HOLLYWOOD DIRT because it looked different. We all need time to relax. I think mince might be in January! 😍❤️❄️☃❄️❤️😍

Toni Anderson said...

'Might' not 'mince' LOL. I wonder what is on my mind...

Marcelle Dubé said...

I always love the Christmas season with its lights and snow and singing and wonderful movies. I save up at least one novel to savour between Christmas and New Year (this year will be Craig Longmire's latest, I do believe) and I usually set up a big puzzle to work on during that period. Kids and significant others are around and life is good. Merry Christmas, my friends.

Shirley Wells said...

Yep, it is stressful, Toni. Wow, I'll be waving back from a very wet Lancashire. (We actually have a smattering of snow today but I gather it's not likely to last.) Have fun with the family! I keep downloading books to the Kindle and I shudder to think how many are sitting on it waiting to be read. So little time, lol.

Marcelle, once the lights, the singing and the movies start, I love Christmas too. As for snow, I don't suppose we'll have any. Perhaps you could ship a load over from the Yukon? Enjoy!

Rita said...

I LOVE Christmas. I do not love the media hype. Emotionally it can be from very difficult to okay for me. I do believe I'm going to get that Big Book of Christmas Mysteries. Thanks for this lovely post.

Shirley Wells said...

I'm with you, Rita. I love Christmas - but not in October. :)

Mia Kay said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only humbug. Part of it is the rush you mentioned, Shirley. The 24/7 Christmas movie marathons don't help much either.

This year I'll be curling up with my red pen to edit, and hopefully making some headway on a new manuscript, but I plan on reading as much, and as widely, as possible. If I'm going to recommend writers: Elizabeth George, Jim Butcher, Grace Burrowes, and Joanna Bourne.

Those mysteries you listed sure are tempting. :-)

Merry Christmas, Shirley!

~Mia

Shirley Wells said...

Good luck with the editing, Mia, and with the new manuscript. Maybe I'll make some progress on the Book That Refuses to be Written. Hmm. :) I think I've read everything by Elizabeth George. Maybe I'd better go and check!

Thanks, and a very merry Christmas to you, Mia!

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