Happy Thursday everyone! The holiday season is just right around the corner. The excitement is in the air. As the song goes, “it is the most wonderful time of the year.” But before I get myself lost in the festive air, let me do another book tag that imbibes the spirit of the season. I randomly came across Bookish Christmas Book Tag while browsing the Internet. It immediately piqued my interest and I decided to make my own version of the book tag. Here goes!

Father Christmas: Name a book you received as a child that you treasure to this day.

Growing up in a family that is not much into reading or gift-giving, I don’t have any fond memory of receiving a book as a child. I have nothing against my parents though. While I had a voracious appetite for reading different media, such as newspapers, magazines, and encyclopedias, as a kid, I really wasn’t into reading literary works. I discovered the pleasures of reading literary works later in my life.

The ghost of Christmas past: Is there a book or series you like to revisit each year at Christmas time?

Unfortunately, I am not much of a massive re-reader. I have a reading list that stretches for miles (HAHA) which is a huge contributor to this. At least, I don’t run out of books to choose from. Nevertheless, if there is a series that I wasn’t to revisit during the holiday seasons, I will go with J.K. Rowling’s immortalized work, Harry Potter. The magical world of Hogwarts evokes the holiday spirit while the friendship between Harry Potter, Hermoine Granger, and Ron Weasley warms up the heart. Their mischievous adventures are also a pleasure to read.

Christmas tree: Name a series that reaches new heights with every entry.

Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of literary series. It is no surprise that I am more into standalone books. However, I do have a lot of literary series lined up but I still can’t dedicate the time to focus on one series. In response to the question, I would have to say that Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series (apart from the Harry Potter series of course) is the one that riveted me, that kept me looking forward to the succeeding books in the series. Riordan built an intricate web of stories that made the series move forward while keeping the magic together. P.S. I love mythology.

Friends and family: Name a book with fantastic characters.

Of my recent reads, it was Genzaburo Yoshino’s How Do You Live? that had some of the most impressionable characters. This is uncharacteristic of me choosing a work of young adult fiction but I have to say that the main characters, Copper and his friends, Kitami, Uragawa, and Mizutami, were all relatable. Their varied backgrounds provided a texture to the story that complemented its philosophical elements. The only thing I lamented about the book was its lack of a prominent female voice; there was one but her presence was brief.

Decorations: Name a book with a gorgeous cover you would proudly display on your shelves.

I am guilty. I do have a thing for book covers, especially when I was younger. Back then, it was one of the primary reasons why I buy a book. If I fancy a book cover, chances are I am going to buy it, even though the author is unfamiliar to me or I barely have an iota on what it is about. Below are some of my favorite book covers, from the books I possess.

Christmas cards: Name a book that carries a great message.

This is the nth time that I am using Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People for a question about great messages. I don’t think I will ever get tired of singing praises for Backman’s latest work. It was brimming with his signature Swedish humor. However, the humor belies the book’s deeper messages about kindness, mental health, and simply being there for the people we are about. In the midst of the pandemic, these are messages that we all badly need to hear, or perhaps read.

Ice and snow: Name a book that you were hoping to love but which ultimately left you feeling cold.

Prior to 2021, I have already read two of Chang-Rae Lee’s works and I liked both of these books because of their silent power and of how they captured the nuances of adapting to a new culture. When I learned that he was publishing new work in 2021, My Year Abroad, I was really excited for it has been nearly five years since I read any of his works. Moreover, the book’s premise, which involved traveling, was promising and easily captured my interest. However, there was something lacking about the book. What came through was Lee’s attempt to appeal to the millennial audience. It was missing the elements of Lee’s prose that made deep impressions on me. I didn’t hate the book but it left me wanting for more.

Apart from My Year Abroad, I have a slew of other titles that really left me in want for more. One example is Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, his first since winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, Klara and the Sun. It had a promising premise but the execution was cringy and the writing was puerile, a far cry from the author who wrote masterpieces such as An Artist of the Floating World, Remains of the Day, and A Pale View of Hills. Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World was another underwhelming read. I didn’t like Sophie.

Christmas lunch: Name a book that was big and intimidating but oh so worth it in the end.

I mean, who wouldn’t be intimidated right? The Brothers Karamazov is a revered work of Russian literature written by a literary Titan whose name is discussed all over the world, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Once you get past that initial intimidation, you have to grapple with a book that is 1,000 pages long (Bantam Classics version), with a story obscured by a veil of darkness, and coldness. The plot was also elaborate. I had to labor through the book for nearly two weeks, reading it every chance I have. I am glad I did because the book impressed me, and it is one of the reasons for my admiration of Russian literary works.

Mince pies: Name a book you found sweet and satisfying.

Hiro Arikawa’s The Travelling Cat Chronicles is another title that warmed my heart. It depicted the relationship between a stray cat and Satoru, the man who adopted him and named him Nana (seven in Japanese). Across Japan, they traveled in search of Nana’s new owner. It was also a time machine as Satoru recalls warm memories of his past. The book’s conclusion was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Oh yeah, during the pandemic, I realized I am a cat person.

Presents: What book do you wish you could give everyone to read?

This one is an unusual choice. However, it is a book I hope more will read, especially my friends and family. It has been over half a decade since George Orwell published his magnum opus, Nineteen Eighty-Four. However, the passage of time did not dim its message. Rather, it made it even more palpable. With the ever-increasing threats of populism, communism, and fascism, it becomes even more imperative that more should read the book in order to gain an insight into a grim future should we fail to gain a deep political awareness and see beyond the signs that embrace us at every turn. And yes, everything is political.

Spreading the festive cheer: Tag some friends to help spread the festive bookish love.

It has become my custom not to tag anyone and I am not making any exception on this book tag. However, if you fancy doing your own version of the tag, please feel free to do so. Just don’t forget to tag me so that I can go over your answers as well.

For now, happy reading! I hope you are going to spend the holiday season with your family. Merry Christmas!