Finally, we’ve arrived at a two-week period where we can read for pleasure and without the guilt of neglecting a series of critical essays we should have read days ago. The weather out there is pretty dismal, the sun is gone at four in the afternoon and you still have a few days until New Years Day, when you really must start thinking about finishing those essays you started last week. So, heat up the mulled wine and consider adding a few of these titles to your Christmas reading list while you still can!
Here are some recommendations from Kingston University tutors as well as Words, Pauses, Noises staff. Enjoy!
I’ll be re-reading Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ & Roth’s ‘The Plot Against America’ as I’m lecturing on both at the start of next term. Over Christmas, I’m hoping to read Andrea Ley’s ‘The Long Song’ as research for my novel and Ivan Vladislavic’s ‘Double Negative’ as people have been saying it’s one of the best books about South Africa ever written.
I also want to finish reading Julia Kristeva ‘Black Sun: Depression & Melancholia’ a work of psychoanalysis that explores these ideas through major works of Western art.
‘Pan’ by Knut Hamsum because it’s intense and lyrical and manages to make a man throwing a shoe into the sea about the most shocking event ever in world literature.
‘A Tiler’s Afternoon’ by Lars Gustaffson because it perfectly demonstrates the meaninglessness of all human endeavour and is therefore an antidote to our Disneyfied Christmas celebrations.
This Christmas, I am looking forward to reading purely for pleasure. Peter Ackroyd’s new novel ‘Three Brothers’ has been waiting on my bookshelf for a while, as has Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’. I also look forward to revisiting Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ free of the constraints of having to read at speed in order to meet a deadline. Not prose, but I will certainly be watching again the BBC’s peerless, chilling 1976 adaptation of ‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens, an almost perfect ghost story.
Words, Pauses, Noises recommendations:
Caitriona Marron – I didn’t get a chance to read ‘Everything passes’ by Gabriel Josipovici (for Lee Rourke’s seminars) during the semester, so it’s been placed on my lazy Christmas list. Also, I’ll be re-reading Rebecca Well’s ‘The Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood’, a lively Southern American take on women’s oppression and succession of their time through the lives of four women and their ‘petit ya-yas’.
Cais Jurgens – This time of year I like to read books that make me really happy to be warm inside with friends or family instead of wherever it is I’m reading about. One Christmas my younger brother was given ‘The Moon is Down,’ by John Steinbeck. I snatched it up while he was playing with his new Xbox game and devoured it that evening. Published in 1942 and banned in occupied Europe, this short novel is a fantastic and quick read that ends with you flipping back to the front cover to start again.
Stephanie Dotto – I’m trying to knock a few books that have been living on my personal reading list for years. Some of these include ‘The Diagnosis’ by Alan Lightman (a physicist turned novelist who writes some pretty spectacular stuff) and ‘Wonder Boys’ by Michael Chabon (It’s a book about writers, which is always fun to read when you are going through the process yourself).
A special thanks to Adam Baron, Jonathan Barnes and Dr. James Miller for their recommendations. We sincerely hope you find the time to get lost in a book by the fire or at least pressed up against the radiator.
Safe travels to everyone and Happy Holidays.