Week’s End Notes (21) – Of Christmasy Things

  • I’m afraid my December has been pretty much of a slump, reading wise. And blogging wise, for that matter–I let myself get pretty behind on reading and commenting on others’ blogs. I suppose it’s a general combination of busyness–aka letting my procrastination get the better of me–and trying to force myself into reading plans I’d made previously that didn’t really work just now. The first has been solved quite naturally: Christmas is past, so what is not done is not done and that is that. And the second has been dealt with by returning library books unread and reshelving (okay, okay, setting aside to reshelve) books I own.
  • But despite solving these two little problems, I still wouldn’t have had a single book read in December were it not for the delightful solution of illustrated children’s Christmas books. (Hey! I didn’t intend it, but this actually makes a nice transition into January…) I don’t have a good feel for how well-known Tasha Tudor is (although I’ve heard her books/illustrations are quite popular in Japan), but my mom has long been a fan, so I grew up reading copies of books illustrated with her gentle hand. Her editions of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess will always be my favorites, but in addition to illustration stories written by others, Tudor also wrote and illustrated her own tales. I read three over December: Corgiville Christmas, The Dolls’ Christmas, and Becky’s Christmas. They are gentle tales, harkening back to a time when Christmas gifts were mostly handmade and Christmas was a simple, thoughtful time for family and close friends, without the stresses and materialism of our modern holiday.
  • Reading these three close together was interesting to see how Tudor both kept to the same themes and ideas but also how her artwork changed over time. Corgiville Christmas is the most recent, published when she was in her eighties, and the painting is less crisp and sharp-edged than in her earlier books, but it is nonetheless a charming tale.
    Cover - Corgiville Christmas by Tasha Tudor
    Illustration from Corgiville Christmas by Tasha Tudor
    Covers - Becky's Christmas and The Doll's Christmas by Tasha Tudor
    Illustration from Becky's Christmas by Tasha Tudor
    Illustration from The Doll's Christmas by Tasha Tudor
  • Reading these little tales seems to have been the boost I needed to get back to longer books. I’ve started a reread of a childhood favorite series, The Dark is Rising Sequence. I’m currently on the first, Over Sea, Under Stone, and they’re all perhaps a bit too new to qualify for “classic” status just yet, but I’ve been wanting to reread them ever since I read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys a bit over a year ago. (As I posted at the time Raven Boys reminds me of Dark is Rising.) I’ve also begun Pinocchio. I’ll be reading an English translation for January, but I wanted to try my hand at how much of the Italian I could understand first. I may or may not read the whole thing.
  • And then of course, there’s the new temptations. What would be a Christmas without at least one new book?
    New books - Beowulf (Tolkien trans.) and Northanger Abbey (Annotated)Or two, as the case may be. I’ve been hoping to read Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf since I knew it existed (and this was before Christopher Tolkien had edited it for publication), so I am very happy to have that. It might have to be a 2015 read. And of course, I must continue my collection of the Annotated Editions of Jane Austen, with the fifth, Northanger Abbey. Only one left!
  • I promise at least one more post before the end of the year–my “traditional” New Year’s Eve post reviewing the past year and looking ahead to the new. Until then, happy reading!

7 thoughts on “Week’s End Notes (21) – Of Christmasy Things”

    1. I’m really looking forward to reading Beowulf! This edition comes with all sort of Tolkien’s commentary too, so it should be interesting reading. I hope you can find a copy.

      December does have the disadvantage of busyness. Hopefully January will be more productive reading-wise for all of us.

  1. Ooo, those all look so good, especially the Beowulf. Seamus Heaney’s translation is my absolute favourite, but I’d love to see how Tolkien would compare. I’ve been opposite and have been able to read quite a bit in December. I just hope that it carried over into the new year!

    1. I’ve never read Beowulf, actually…yet… I might borrow my brother’s copy (I think he has the Seamus Heaney translation) to see how they compare. I’m glad to hear someone has had a good reading December! Here’s hoping it carries on into January!

  2. I have the Beowulf!! Am looking forward to it.

    I read The Dark is Rising almost every Christmas, and I did the other day. 🙂

    1. If I had been thinking I would have started my reread of the series earlier in December so I could read The Dark is Rising on Christmas, but it didn’t even occur to me. Oh well. It would be a great tradition!

    2. If I had been thinking I would have started my reread of the series earlier in December so I could read The Dark is Rising on Christmas, but it didn’t even occur to me. Oh well. It would be a great tradition!

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