Literary Christmas Gifts

It’s Christmas Eve, and probably gift exchange will be taking place tonight amidst parties and turkey and pudding. If you are still spoiled for choice over what to give certain relatives or long-ago schoolmates, why don’t you consider a literary gift? Gifts of good books tend to imply that you hold the recipient in high intellectual regard. Only clever, distinguished people curl up by the fireplace at night to read thick difficult novels.

However, while it is always a thing of pride to display classics on one’s bookshelf, getting through these books can really be a mental challenge. Recently, I was reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and the first part of the book gave me such a moment. The book is long and thick, like any modern classic ought to be, and the first part twists and spirals round and round, leaving readers confused over just what the story was. There were many times when I laid the book down and swore never to open it again, but I am pleased I did in the end. Once you get through a certain number of chapters, you start to get the hang of what the tale is, and then it becomes a gripping hit. Most classics follow that route. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and only understanding what a good book it was when I was on the last page.

So if people give you one such book for Christmas, do take it as an exercise in perseverance! It’s probably one of those stuff you wrote in your New Year resolution in the beginning of the year anyway.

By the way, I like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I consider it one of the books that are easier to read and understand right from the start. I also like the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. That one made me cry. But the Kite Runner is a lot easier to read because it was recent, unlike things like Pride & Prejudice which was written so very long ago and people probably loved roundabouts then.

But yeah, about Midnight’s Children. Simply put, it is about India in the 1960’s, and a boy who was born at the stroke of midnight at the hour of India’s independence. The boy, like all children who were born in that hour, has a special power — he can see into and communicate with the minds of others. And so this book is about him and how his life was somehow inextricably intertwined with all the major events in India happening at the time. The book started off confusing because he was being irritating in his narration and digressing with himself. But gradually you learn to be fond of the digressions and the very personalised writing style.

But either way, a book is a good gift to give people during Christmas. After all, this is the festive season, which means people tend to be off from work, and once Christmas is over, they will have plenty of time to read and relax before starting work again. To make the buying process easier for everyone, why don’t you make a booklist for yourself? Write down the books that you want to read so your family and friends know what to purchase for you!


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