Sunday, December 22, 2013

5 Christmas books to make you see the funnier side of the season

I hate the commercial side of Christmas. I find it distinctly...un-Christmassy. (If that's a non-term I can use). And, some days, I'm not so crash hot on believing that my Christmas bonhomie can survive visiting relatives. But I am, first and foremost, a cynic, so there's that to take into account. One thing I do love about this time of year, though, is the amount of weirdly wonderful Christmas books we have in our collections, and today's gems are proof positive there is such a thing. I mean, I don't know about YOU but the idea that I can survive what has been, traditionally, a rather trying time of year for me (few social skills, low tolerance for happiness, and just general awkward-ery) by reading stories that poke fun at Christmas, I'M IN. Although book 5? Nothing beats book 5. Seriously. It was the 'inspiration' (and I use that word loosely) behind this post. The idea that you can knit Christmas decorations like Arne and Carlos do, does my head in a little. My disastrous knitting experiences are legendary, but this almost makes me want to try again. With, no doubt, a second disastrous result BUT STILL, right? If you're an awkward duck like me, this might be your kind of thing - 5 Christmas books to make you see the funnier side of the season.

1. Bad Santas : and other creepy Christmas characters / Paul Hawkins
Nonfiction. A gleefully dark and well-researched exploration of the history and customs of European Yuletide folklore. How did St Nicholas save children from cannibalism? Who were the Yule Lads and why would they steal your sausages? Why was the Alpine Father Christmas accompanied by a demonic figure called the Krampus who bundled children into sacks and dragged them off to Hell? And why do Spanish nativity scenes often feature a defecating peasant? Over the course of the 20th Century, a universal image developed around the world of Santa Claus as a kindly Christmas visitor but, prior to that, each country, town and community would have Christmas visitors of their own - sometimes human, sometimes animal, sometimes something else entirely - with their own curious set of mythology and customs. The Finns were visited by a pagan goat named Joulupukki that was said to eat anyone who misbehaved. In Iceland, it was said that any child who did not receive an item of new clothing for Christmas would be caught and consumed by the monstrous Christmas Cat! Bad Santas celebrates some of the most imaginative, terrifying and outright curious Christmas figures from across Europe - looking closely at its legacy of disquieting fairy stories. With beautiful black and white line drawings in each chapter, this unusual, entertaining and gleefully dark exploration of seasonal folklore will make an ideal Christmas gift and the perfect book for reading around the fireside.

2. Snark! The herald angels sing : sarcasm, bitterness, and the holiday season / Lawrence Dorfman
Bah Humbug It s that time of year again.Time to spend too much, drink too much, eat too much, smile falsely, dig down deep to try and find good cheer, battle crowds, try to find parking in over-crowded lots, ignore surly clerks, bartenders, waiters, valets, and parking lot attendants, all in the pursuit of that moment of happiness known throughout the world asdun, dun, dun: the Holidays. Has there ever been a time more suited to tapping into snark? With commentary, jokes, and quotes regarding Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year s; on bad presents, worse in-laws, horrible children, and much more glorious excess. Enjoy such rotten sugar plums as: Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year. Victor Borge If someone screws up on their gift, there are seven more days to correct it...No awkward explanations of virgin birth...No Irving Berlin songs. Among the Top Ten Reasons to Love Hanukkah What I don t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day. Phyllis Diller Snark, the Herald Angels Sing is destined to be a holiday classic.

3. Santa responds [OverDrive eBooks] : he's had enough -- and he's writing back! / by Santa Claus
Ever wonder what Santa does with all those letters? (And all those cookies?) After a particularly long, cold night staring at nine smelly reindeer butts, the old man lets loose with the real answers to those stupid, whiny, hard-to-read letters from kids. Turns out, we really do get what we deserve.

Dear Billy,
I know you honestly believe that the good deeds you rattled off represent your behavior for the entire past year rather than the activities that occurred during the two hours leading up to the writing of this letter. Two hours of good behavior hardly justifies a new Playstation, let alone a trip to Disney World!!
Your pal,

4. Ugly Christmas sweater party book : the definitive guide to getting your ugly on / Brian Miller, Adam Paulson, and Kevin Wool, a.k.a. Team Ugly of
Definitive in every way, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book includes the history of the event, how to throw the perfect party, what to wear, and how to judge the all-important ugly Christmas sweater contest. But most important, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book is packed with more than 100 hilarious, full-color photos of outrageously ugly Christmas sweaters, including Scarf Face, Wreath Witherspoon, and Ryan Treecrest. It’s a must-have for the millions who plan to throw or attend an ugly Christmas sweater party, and a sidesplitting look at the funniest, craziest, most unbelievable holiday sweaters you can imagine—authorized by Team Ugly, the recognized experts on ugly Christmas sweater parties.

5. 55 Christmas balls to knit : colorful festive ornaments, tree decorations, centerpieces, wreaths, window dressings / Arne & Carlos
This book features step-by-step instructions for 55 small-scale knitted Christmas decorations with classic holiday graphics such as snowflakes, berries, bows, angels and animals as well as more ornate patterns often found in Scandanavian sweaters, hats and mittens.

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