books to read if you’re dreaming of a white christmas

by Becca Varcoe

A common refrain for Aussies to hear abroad is, “I just can’t imagine it being so hot at Christmas time!” Well, you better imagine, buddy, ’cos it gets pretty damn warm. Huddled around a dusty outdoor setting with sweat pouring out from under a paper crown, all Aussies have experienced a Christmas Day on the surface of the sun.

Depending on your preference, our steamy holiday period is either a blissful blessing or a sweltering curse. The allure of a post-food coma dip is a treat for some, while others are found wishing for a white Christmas. If hot chocolate and fireplaces are more your bag than shrimp on a barbie, chuck these books a read underneath your air conditioner while you dream of colder climes.

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Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh

The cold comes back and back and back in Eileen – so much so you can almost feel the crunch of snow under your feet when you read it. Darkly funny and super-gripping, Eileen tells the tale of, well, Eileen – a young woman whose life is certainly not what she wants it to be. Her first-person re-telling of the days leading up to the constantly alluded to events of Christmas Eve is done in a really unique voice that hooks you in.

You Better Not Cry, Augusten Borroughs

Much like David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice, Augusten Burroughs covers off typical American holiday tropes in sardonic fashion. In what is his sixth memoir, Burroughs writes about the holiday season for people who maybe don’t love the holiday season. Read this one if you’re sweltering on your grumpy aunt’s house and dreaming of being grumpy somewhere cooler and further away from relatives with questionable political views.

Winter, Ali Smith

It’s called WINTER for goodness’ sake. She’s from SCOTLAND. That’s COLD in winter, and they also have CHRISTMAS then. Winter is the second installment in Smith’s quartet on the seasons (so far Penguin has also published Smith’s Autumn). A critically acclaimed award-winner, Ali Smith’s books are crazy-good, and I’d try and sneak one onto this list even if it didn’t feature a white Christmas. This is a good one for gifting to your literary pals this holiday season.

Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story, J. Jefferson Farjeon

A weird thing happened a few Christmases ago: a book written back in 1937 started topping the must-read and most-bought lists of book stores and blogs alike. The book was this one, J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery in White, and even Amazon ran out of stock at one stage. The book is a good ol’ murder mystery with a motley crew of passengers stranded on a train stopped due to the snow. They decide to make it on foot, then uncover a mysterious house, and then… the murderer strikes. A great binge read for sleepy afternoons.

Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

While it’s not really a Christmas book, this one is a fun, pulpy read that’s perfect to be consuming at the laziest time of year. Starting on New Year’s Day, Bridget narrates a year in the life, closing in December with our topic of interest: Christmas. Being that she’s in London, it’s also a cold Christmas. Given that one of the most iconic scenes from the film adaptation of this very famous book is Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth in ugly Christmas jumpers, this one will definitely conjure up images of ugly woolies in a toasty home.

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