Every year during the Yuletide season I find some thematic reading. I try to stay on the spooky side, although I do diverge into Christmas mysteries (thanks to the British Library Crime Classics) and even occasional non-fiction. Here's what I have on the list so far this year:
The Lure of the Unknown: Essays on the Strange, by Algernon Blackwood (Swan River Press). This is a new favorite press, billed as "Ireland’s only independent press dedicated exclusively to the literature of the fantastic." I ordered this earlier in the year, and when it arrived, I discovered essays like "Looking Back at Christmas" and "My Strangest Christmas," so I decided to save it.
The Shrieking Skull & Other Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, by James Skipp Borlase (Valancourt Books). Their five volumes of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories are all must-haves, and this year they've done something different, a single-author collection. I had never heard of this writer before, and that itself is the Valancourt way. Beautiful production, beautiful cover, and halfway through, I am loving all the stories so far!
The Uninhabited House, by Charlotte Riddell (Broadview Press). Another of my can't-miss publishers, this is often name-dropped as a classic haunted house tale. I have yet to discover if Christmas plays a part int he story or not, but it was originally published in a Christmas Annual (1875), and the appendixes include an essay by the author called "The Miseries of Christmas," which sounds absolutely delightful!
Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory, by Robert E. May (University of Virginia Press). Obviously a lot more serious than my other choices, this looks at the historical reality of the holidays, debunking a mythology of happy "slave Christmases." My friends at the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses in New Orleans are hosting a webinar with the author on December 14, 2022, which is how I heard about the book, and I can't wait to sit on that! You can sign up here and join me for free.