I'm absolutely loving racing through the festive titles from my Bookish Gift Guide for the Holidays. The beautiful Christmas Stories anthology by Scholastic Classics was a particularly seasonal read that started to get me excited about the upcoming holidays. I mean, with words by Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen within the pages, how could it not?
And Christmas Stories has got to be one of the most visually stunning books I've had the pleasure to read all year. A Christmas-red hardback with eye-catching gold detailing (that doesn't come across as beautiful in my photo as it does in real life), and lovely festive end-papers evokes the feeling of the season of merriness and luxury.
Within this beautiful package are stories from the likes of Charles Dickens (of course!), Louise May Alcott, Hans Christian Andersen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kenneth Grahame, and many more. Some were festive, others were wintery but what they definitely all had in common is that they were perfectly suited for this time of year.
However, while some of the stories were existing shorts that contained a perfectly bite-sized read to devour on a dark winter's night, others were merely an excerpt of a much larger novel. And even with the detailed introduction it felt like falling in the middle of a much bigger and more complex tale, and the snippet didn't quite work on its own.
One of the risks with a short is that the limited number of words doesn't allow for proper characterisation and storyline progression, and so when several of the shorts didn't even allow for the reader to journey through the whole back story that left the characters in the scene we tumbled into, it added to that feeling of disconnect.
While I felt slightly disappointed not to only read fully contained stories within this anthology, what the excerpts did end up doing was get me excited to pick up some classics I haven't read yet. Most notably Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, which has been on my mental TBR for years, and What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. After reading a little from Anne and Katy in Christmas Stories I'm definitely keen to discover more from these feisty girls.
On the opposite end, reading a snippet from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (and not, predictable for a festive anthology, A Christmas Carol) didn't pique my interest, and so I know I don't have to go out of my way to read that one in its entirety.
I wanted to like Christmas Stories more than I did as a whole. There were certainly some stories that I devoured and that worked very well on their own, including The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum. For the most part, however, it's a collection of excerpts for which having read the whole novels they have come from would've been beneficial for context.
So rather than looking at Christmas Stories an anthology, think of it as your guide to what classics you should read next. Not to mention that the bite-sized teasers are so beautifully packaged, that this makes a gorgeous addition to any book shelf – and superficial bookworm that I am, that is definitely important to me!
Christmas is published by Scholastic Books and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.