Christmas books I would love in my stocking

I’ll add to this list over the coming weeks as books are one present I look forward to every year at Christmas. I am starting out with this collection of short stories below!

Alice Munro – Dear Life

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Canadian author, Alice Munro is one of those rare writers who sticks to the short story and doesn’t bother with novels. Just to read some of her stories, it’s easy to see that she has perfected the craft to such an extent that authors such as Margaret Atwood, who wrote the superb and affecting The Handmaid’s Tale, said of Munro that fellow writers ‘whisper her name in hushed tones’, so revered is she. Munro has been publishing collections of short stories for decades and when she won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, it was widely seen as long overdue.

Her latest collection, Dear Life, instantly is unique in that it seems to be her most personal work to date featuring autobiographical stories, rare coming from an author who never speaks about herself or grants interviews. Each of these 14 stories are like mini novels in themselves and need to be read slowly and deliberately.

After the first 10 short stories, she inserts a single paragraph on an otherwise blank page, under the heading, Finale: “The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.”

Reviews have ranged from ‘life changing’ to ‘spectacular’ which makes this collection firmly at the top of my Christmas wish list.

I would love to hear any more recommendations for good books for over the holidays.

My top 5 Christmas movies

Well the best Christmas movies I think there are anyway, I am talking the gems that I watch every year without fail…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This has been such a firm favourite in my family for the last few years. I would estimate I have seen this movie somewhere around 20 times and I still laugh at the same parts, a great movie for getting into the Christmas spirit, having a good laugh and definitely one of my all time favourites!

Most memorable line: “Hey Griswold, where d’ya think you’re going to put a tree that big?” . “Bend over and I’ll show you.”

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It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey (played by the wonderful James Stewart) is not having a good Christmas – he is in major financial distress and is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve until his guardian angel Clarence intervenes to show him what life would be like if he had never existed.

The line – ‘Look daddy, every time a bell a rings, an angel gets his wings’ still gets me every time and leaves a lump in my throat.

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Elf

I ended up watching Elf twice in two days over Christmas last year as it just gets better every time. I havent seen Will Ferrell be so funny in a movie since I watched Old School and this is just chock full of hilarious one liners and facial expressions from start to finish not to mention the legendary dance scene.

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour?”

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Scrooged

Anything with Bill Murray in it is worth a watch in my book and Scrooged is a contemporary twist on the classic – when I say contemporary I mean 1988 of course and boy is this 1988. For anyone who grew up watching movies from the 80s this is bad hair and fashion at its worst and a joy to watch.

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Home Alone

Can you believe it’s 22 years since this movie and Macaulay Culkin made their debut? Every kid has contemplated what they would do if they were left ‘home alone’ and being the youngest with older brothers, I could sympathise with Kevin’s character in this but the fun really starts when he starts defending his house against a brilliant Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

“Keep the change you filthy animal”

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Some other movies worth mentioning, although not strictly Christmas movies, but I associate them with Christmas as they will be on TV at some stage and I will lie on the couch eating mince pies and tins of sweets watching them as I do every year – ET, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Love Actually  and for those of you who might be anti Christmas, Bad Santa is a good choice alongside The Grinch.

What will you be watching this Christmas?