It might surprise some book lovers, including Literature students, that there's a long list of Christmas books. It should be good enough not to watch a rerun of "It's a Wonderful Life" one more time, even open your copy of "A Christmas Carol" and recite your favorite lines from the novella. You would notice the members of your family showing interest somewhere else, which may be the menu on Christmas Eve. You must make an early resolution, as you'll learn more about this little-known (literary) genre.
You seem to wonder why your department haven't thought about a module on Christmas books. It's similar to the Horror genre, where most writers have tried to pen a scary story. Don't expect a Stephen King novella, of how a small group of mysterious strangers drop by a sleepy community one December evening. (It hasn't been written before. It won't be ever written.) You'll learn a great deal of literary criticism, which you would demonstrate in your assignments. There's a lot to write about a Virginia Woolf novel, but it doesn't mean that you can't compose a 2,000-word essay on Rosemary Timperley. "Orlando" would turn into a classic, for probably a million reasons, while "Harry" have had a cult following due to one (terrifying) reason.
Scrooge isn't supposed to be the first figure to come to mind (after the topic of Christmas is brought up), but Charles Dickens might have intended to remind his readers that the ghosts (of Christmas past, present, and future) would be fairy tale characters who can banish cynical thoughts during the Yuletide season. On the other hand, "Little Blue Truck" should win the hearts of young readers and the ones who are young at heart. Books about Christmas have a place elsewhere, and Hollywood studios know it. (If you've been thinking of "Home Alone", then you're dead right.)
Why these books endear to readers
A Christmas Memory. If this short story is heavy enough, then it should be no other than Truman Capote. It reads like an autobiography, of how Christmas would teach a young boy about loneliness and loss. "Charlotte's Web" may come to mind. (E. B. White's children book can be a companion book to this melancholic, if not bittersweet, tale.) Why not pick a lighthearted book? Capote would think of a time when everything seems pure and innocent, and how it would get lost forever. It seems similar to the author's greatest work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", but Capote's little boy should be reminded of the good time happening on Christmas. No Thanksgiving, not Easter as well.
The Christmas Mystery. Jostein Gaarder would build a literary career on children dealing with adult topics. Christmas is supposed to be an exception, yet the Norwegian author chooses a story within a story. (Joachim bought an Advent calendar, which contained stories. It told the tale of Elisabet, of how she traveled backward to Bethlehem.) Gaarder tends to chew more than he can, which shows in "Sophie's World". In this case, Elisabet glimpses into the history of Europe. He didn't stray too far, keeping the Christmas spirit alive. You may suggest this beguiling book as an essay assignment.
The Father Christmas Letters. "The Lord of the Rings" would have reference to the Second World War, and it won't be different in J. R. R. Tolkien's posthumous book. There's an enchanting tale of how the northern lights have come into existence, as well as good old yarns on how polar bears get into trouble. Tolkien had written these tales for his children, but he might be thinking of any child elsewhere. If you love it, then don't be surprised at all.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Everyone's favorite misfit is back in what is probably the most entertaining story about him, of how the stealing of any item that defines the Yuletide season didn't dishearten the upbeat mood of the inhabitants of Whoville. Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's moral lesson on love conquering all is not hard to doubt. Even a grouchy figure such as the Grinch would end up as a believer.
The Polar Express. Chris Van Allsburg's illustrated book would captivate anyone, but you would learn to adore the young narrator and his strong belief on the Yuletide spirit. Anyone on a journey could undergo a transformation, and it won't be different for the lad who yearn for the bell from the reindeer's harnesses. It has a special kind of sound, which is similar to the effects of Christmas lights. Allsburg should be telling his readers that the simple things, sometimes unexpected, could make a huge difference. You'll smile after hearing the chiming (of the bell).
How to read these Christmas books
If these books aren't meant to be taken seriously, then there's a reason. You're supposed to enjoy the company of your family. Good food (and wine) should lighten up the spirits, so there's little room for serious discussion. You can read these books on your favorite couch while the fire keeps you warm during the cold evening. There's something else, though.
You've been struggling during Reading Week, which shows that you need to read fast. You must pay attention to certain details on some chapters. You may do a bit of practice on it during the holidays.