The world is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and work is winding down for the semester. With the Christmas holiday coming, it's an ideal time for reading. Now I always read, but Christmas seems to call for some change change in the line up to match the peculiar feel of the season.
Changing my reading list to fit the holiday mood does not mean Christmas books, though it can. There's nothing wrong with curling up by the fire to read Dickens "A Christmas Carol" or work through Matthew and Luke's accounts of the Nativity. However, I meant something beyond the obvious Christmas additions. There are certain books that you plow through and there are certain books that you eat up. Christmas, for me, calls for neither. Instead, I prefer books with a narrow emotional register that absorb and enchant; the perfect companions for long, cold, quiet nights.
Last year's book of choice was the novella "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" by H.P. Lovecraft. This season, I've decided to try Scull and Hammond's "J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator." It's a slow and engaging read, and Tolkien's odd style of painting lends a sense of quiet enchantment to the whole. I've encountered Tolkien's art before and enjoyed it. In past Christmases, my wife and I have made a habit of reading Tolkien's "Father Christmas Letters" together. The odd world of the North Polar Bear and Father Nicholas Christmas that Tolkien weaves for his children is a real delight. I'm looking forward, then, to continuing to explore the artistic side of Tolkien's worlds in a more complete fashion.
So how about you? What constitutes your ideal holiday reading?