Have yourself a merry literary Christmas

Christmas is coming and there’s no way escaping it… Oh wait, there is. After a scrumptious meal with families and friends – and especially after a day of buying, wrapping and/or exchanging gifts – you can always retreat to the tranquil world of books.

Are you ready to enjoy some peace and quiet? Can you see a refreshing and rewarding literary adventure on the horizon? For your reference, here’s a five-step approach to organising a five-book reading spree for this festive season:

Step One: Do an “inventory check”. From that formidable TBR pile beside your bed, pull out the one you’ve long wanted to read but never found time and energy to do so. Finish it by Christmas Eve, so you can demand a new title (Book #1) from Santa.

Step Two: Consult your reliable sources. These may include your “bookworm” families and friends, renowned literary awards and publications, book groups and local libraries, and trustworthy professionals on social media.

For example, the latest buzz is all about Books That Made Us, a three-part documentary series hosted by actor and producer Claudia Karvan that is now available on ABC iView. The series centres on Australian literature and showcases the many splendid ways our authors and books can help us understand our country.

Based on available information, select Books #2 and #3. Choose the book whose synopsis most piques your interest. It should be something that you can comfortably and confidently discuss at the Christmas Lunch.

Meanwhile, make the other a book published before the year 2000. Think of this as a journey to the unfamiliar past that helps you brace for the unknown future.

Step Three: Get Books #2 and #3 sorted via your local library.

While there, ask the friendly librarian for advice on your Book #4. You can also explore the previous month’s list of most borrowed titles, or discover what other books have been read and returned by patrons.

Step Four: Purchase your Book #5 from the nearest bookstore to your location. It’s absolutely critical that you do this in person at a brick-and-mortar outlet specialised in books. Otherwise, you will not see your ordered and paid-for item delivered until after Valentine’s Day 2022 – if at all.

Step Five: Read for pleasure. This, alone, will guarantee your literary adventure remains exciting and effortless throughout the festival season.

The National Library Trust (UK) defines reading for pleasure as “Reading we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction we will get from the act of reading”. We read because we want to – because we are willing to experience different worlds in our imagination. It is akin to an active act of play, a process that is both creative and interactive.

The trick of reading for pleasure is to read for yourself and no one else. The journey is yours alone, yet the joy is pure and universal.

So, why not let your heart be light? With a book, your troubles will be out of sight.

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Note 1: The article “This Christmas, don’t give books to non-readers” by David Barnett (published by The Guardian on December 15, 2017), from which the image used above is sourced, is a wise and humours piece that is very much worth reading. Especially this sentence: “Being literate and having a love of books are two different things.”

Note 2: The quotation from the National Library Trust (UK) is from this article: “Reading for pleasure – a door to success” by the National Library of New Zealand. Another highly recommended reading.

Note 3: This piece was originally published under the title “Have yourself a merry literary Christmas” by Rangers Trader Star Mail, December 14, 2021, P.13.

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