Tag Archives: christmas books

Book Review: ‘Tis the Season by China Miéville

Social commentary on the commercialisation of Christmas does not come better than this! In fact, the political satire of commercialism, exploitation and even capitalism does not come better than this and it does it in a way that only a socialist with a dark sense of humour like Miéville can.

It starts out typically of our first-person narrator discussing his and others’ enjoyment of the festive season. Hell, it got me in the spirit! But it all comes crashing down just a couple of paragraphs in when he refers to not being able to hold a party because he couldn’t afford the EULA fee. Continue reading

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Marley was dead, to begin with.

The above is still my favourite opening to a novel!

We all know the story by now. Ebeneezer Scrooge is a mean old man who has come to despise Christmas and everything that it stands for. He is incredibly rich, has more money than he will ever know what to do with yet lives in a big, cold draughty house, pays his employees an absolute pittance and is cruel to he Clerk, Bob Cratchett. He is so tight-fisted that he will only permit the smallest amount of coal to go onto the fire in their office. Continue reading

Book Review: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

This was my first ever foray into the world of Pratchett, and what a ride it was. Regular readers will already be familiar with the disc that sits on top of four elephants that ride on the back of a turtle through the universe but for those that have lived under a rock and know nothing about it, let me give some background details. In so many ways, the Discworld is remarkably similar to our own. It is a land of Medieval-Victorian-Edwardian fantasy that is almost a parody of ours. It features folklore figures of our world that are not quite the same.

Oh, and Death is a real person. So begins our tale. Twas the Night before Hogswatch… Continue reading

Book Review: The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas (various authors)

This book is a collection of essays written by prominent non-believers from the worlds of science, philosophy, journalism and entertainment all commenting on different aspects of the festive season with one thing in common – the rejection of the religious.

Because the personalities are diverse, so are the subject matters. From Ed Byrne’s humorous criticism of supermarkets selling mince pies in August that are out of date by mid November, to Brian Cox’s piece on the Large Hadron Collider, Ben Goldacre’s sobering thoughts on the power of ideas, crackpot defrauder Derren Brown writing about kindness and how to celebrate as a pagan, a non-practising Jew or even a green activist there is an essay in here for everyone. Some of these are funny, others are thought provoking but all are personal stories in one way or another about the meaning of Christmas to the celeb atheist. The volume is edited by Ariane Sherine, brainchild of the Atheist Bus Campaign.

Hypersensitive religious types might want to stay away but there is no attack on anybody’s beliefs (though no doubt this book will be perceived that way), just a collection of personal commentaries and observations that have become amongst my “must read” for the festive season; I fully intend to re-read my favourite essays every year now.

You can also buy it in good conscience that a substantial portion of the profits are going to charity (The Terrence Higgins Trust).