Thursday, December 25, 2008

God Bless Us Everyone

"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!"

-from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Wishing you and yours a blessed and merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Great Reads for the Holidays

I admit that it is hard to get any reading done during the holidays. The shopping, the cooking and the parties all cut in to our already precious reading time. Nevertheless, there are some books that I try to squeeze in every year. Here are some of my favorite books to curl up with by the Christmas tree.

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

Though many modern Christmas stories tend to border on the sappy, the deeper meaning found in this book makes it a pleasant and thought provoking read. See my full review here.

Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

Not many people are aware that Davies, who wrote the screenplay for the classic holiday film Miracle on 34th Street, also penned a novella version of his story. This is a wonderful and different way to enjoy this heartwarming Christmas story.

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

This is one that I actually discovered this year. Welsh-born poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) composed this short story as a reflection on his lost, but not forgotten, childhood in Wales. Though it is often found under children's books, I think that it is probably better suited for adults. It's a beautiful collection of reminiscences of Christmases gone by, and the sweetness and innocence of childhood. I think that the opening line is so lovely:

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Finally, we have the grandaddy of all Christmas stories. Charles Dickens' classic tale is so rich and powerful, that it is a must read for EVERYONE each Christmas. See my full review here.

Now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite Christmas stories and have they changed how you see Christmas? Sound off!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Classic Tales

Back in September, I stepped into the 21st century and got my very first iPod (or MP3 player for that matter). I was told by a friend that I absolutely HAD to subscribe to The Classic Tales podcast. Josh, I owe you. Big time!

This really is a wonderful treat for anyone who likes great literature and/or audiobooks. Each week host B. J. Harrison reads a complete and unabridged (!) work of literature. They are usually short stories, but he has also done longer novellas as well. The stories and authors vary greatly, from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles to P. G. Wodehouse's Leave it to Jeeves, and Mr. Harrison's dramatic presentation adds greatly to the listening experience.

Some of the most recent stories that I have enjoyed include Rikki-tikki-tavi by Rudyard Kipling, The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster.

There are lots of ways to get a hold of this great audiobook collection. First, you can subscribe (FREE!) at iTunes and then download it to your MP3 player. If you don't want to subscribe, you can download each week's episode here. If you want to purchase past episodes (including A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens) you can do that here.

There are some great stories coming up, including Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, so sign up now!