Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Reading: Part 1

Every year I get nostalgic for the Christmas of my junior year of highschool when we were assigned Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol which I vividly remember reading in my parents' living room next to the glittering tree. I loved it so much and completely forgot it was even homework. Every year, I say I'm going to re-read it and read other Christmas books, but I never find the time, so deciding to try audiobooks this year is working out splendidly for me. Many of these are short no matter what format you read them in, but I'm practically flying through them. It's so nice to read this many Christmas stories during such a busy season. I haven't gotten to A Christmas Carol yet, but am planning to read it next week along with my blogging buddy Riv over at Bookish Realm and another blogging blogging buddy of hers, Sam over at Tiny Library. 'Tis the season!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
Series? Yes, The Herdmans #1
Publisher: Harper Children's Audio
Date: First published in 1972; audiobook published in 2005
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Publisher

I first read this book in the 6th grade, and reading it as an adult, I completely get why it was assigned at my Catholic grammar school. It's a very entertaining story about the Herdmans, a family of miscreant children who know nothing about church or Christmas and participate in a pageant for the very first time. It teaches morals and values while also telling the religious story of Christmas. The shenanigans the Herdmans get into are interesting enough to hold kids' attention and the lessons aren't stuffy or preachy, but they are most certainly there. In addition to the story itself, I would be remiss not to mention how incredibly good the narrator's performance is. This audiobook is the perfect example of how a great narration can make a story even better than it is in print. I don't generally read children's books quite this young, but this one has made me want to read the other two Herdman books! I just read that the author passed away over the summer, but I'm sure this very special book of hers will live on for a very long time.

NPR Holiday Favorites, by Susan Stamberg
Series? NPR has other collections, but not technically a series
Publisher: HighBridge
Date: 2008
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Publisher

I'm not exactly sure why this is considered an audiobook, but apparently it is -- it's filed with the audiobooks in the library and has an ISBN and everything, but it's really just a collection of holiday broadcasts from various NPR shows. My feelings are split on this one. There were quite a few heart-warming stories that I really enjoyed, but some of the others that were supposed to be funny fell a bit flat for me. David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries is always a good one, but I skipped it on here because it isn't the full version. I listened to it on his Holidays on Ice collection instead. In total, it's only about 2 hours long, so it was definitely worth listening to even if every story didn't hit it out of the park. And I do think it would be nice to listen to in the car while travelling for the holidays.

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
Series? No
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Date: March 5, 2013
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

I listened to this audiobook for the first time 5 years ago, and I could have sworn it was funnier. I love humor books, but I'm starting to think David Sedaris' writing isn't exactly my brand of humor. I did laugh a bit, but each story seems to be hit or miss for me. Santaland Diaries, Sedaris' story about working as a Macy's elf, is a classic and still quite good. Six to Eight Black Men is offensive at times, but a mostly funny account of some Dutch Christmas traditions that seem pretty absurd. Jesus Shaves was definitely my favorite story in the whole book and it isn't even about Christmas! In this story, Sedaris is in a French class where he and his fellow classmates give halting, literal translations in an attempt to explain Easter to a student who is unfamiliar with the holiday. Christmas makes only a very brief appearance, but this story is the shining jewel of the collection and Sedaris' narration of it is outstanding. Unfortunately, most of the others were just OK this time around. Not a waste of time, but overall this re-read was not as good as I had hoped it would be.

These books count toward my reading goals for:
2013 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge


  1. This is such a fun idea! I never seem to read a whole lot of Christmas books...I'm not sure why. I do remember reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when I was a kid and I loved it. Happy Christmas Reading!

    1. That's been me every year except this year! And I was so glad to revisit The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it's been one of my favorites so far :)

  2. So I'm positive we were in all of the same classes in sixth grade, yet I don't remember that book at all. It sounds good though, lol.

    1. I could have the grade mixed up, but I could have sworn it was a Mrs. Costa assignment (which actually could have been 5th grade now that I think about it, since she was the reading teacher both years). It was definitely something I read in Holy Family though and it really is very good :)

  3. You've already done Christmas reading! I haven't, I've been reading The Secret History for the whole month so far (not because it's bad, quite the contrary), now I'm like 98% done... Just in time to start A Christmas Carol next week :))

    1. Figured I would get a head start since I borrowed a whole pile of audiobooks from the library :) Very excited for A Christmas Carol next week!

  4. A Christmas Carol is a must read for me every year... I haven't read any of the other books you mentioned in this post. I some what limit myself when it comes to festive books - I generally stick to rereads. I posted my Christmas books for the month on my blog on Monday. I'm still my first one currently, The Dark Is Rising.
    Thanks for sharing your reads so far.

    Bits & Bobs

    1. Re-reads are great of this time of year! Of all the Christmas books I've chosen, 3 I have actually read before.

      And awesome to see you are back Jade! I got really confused because I thought heading over to your blog it would be My Book Bubble -- will have to re-follow you over at Bits & Bobs!

  5. I am a huge fan of holiday reads, and have been reading them since early November. Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday.


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