When I first started my Literature degree, the first question I was asked in most of my seminars was, “What is your favourite book?” Now, I have to admit that I had a problem with this question, and I would like to point out that any discerning Literature student would probably not be able to single out any one book as their favourite. It would be like choosing a favourite child: morally wrong, and you wouldn’t like to offend the others.
But without much thought, there was always one answer which rolled off my tongue. Sure, I could have chosen any Austen novel, I could have been like any person my age who replies Harry Potter, I could have explained how Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy changed my life and inspired me to write myself. But for some reason I always replied firmly with “Little Women“, not because I think it’s the best written book in the world, not because I think it’s mind-blowing or life-changing, but simply because of the warm and fuzzy feeling I get inside when I read it.
(And also, maybe a teeny tiny bit because it has a character called Beth in it. Sob.)
Which brings me around to Christmas. There’s something comforting about reading Little Women at this time of year, something wonderfully nostalgic. It’s like putting up the Christmas tree, or gathering around the fire with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Sure, I’m romanticising the idea just a tad. And sure, I’m being a massive cliché as usual, but reading Little Women evokes such strong feelings of warmth and happiness within me that I long ago decided it was ok not to compete with my classmates’ replies of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, or Albert Camus’ The Stranger. I was being true to myself and to the things which make me happy. In fact, I love Little Women so much that I bought this new and shiny edition of it several years ago, and it now exists as the only book on my shelf twice.
So, come on. I can’t be the only one to have a Christmas book, or to have a book which makes me just so beautifully and comfortably happy. It’s like slipping on a pair of old socks and discovering joyfully that they still fit, or catching up with an old friend and finding that you still understand one another. It’s like sparkle and sentiment and happiness bottled up, and I cannot wait to read it again this year.
Does anybody else have a book they read every year at Christmas time? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.