To Read This Christmas: Small Things Like These
also, what do you like to read at Christmas?
I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about “Jane Eyre,” and I mentioned I think about that book at least once a week. She exclaimed: “That’s your Roman Empire!”
It’s true. Since my obsession with “Jane Eyre” began 15+ years ago, that novel has been one I’ve gone in and out of, around and around, over and over again. (if you’ve not read it recently, you should!).
This year though, a new book is also occupying a lot of my thoughts. I doubt it will supplant “Jane Eyre,” but it might.
The book is “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan. And I’m already planning a reading date with myself to revisit it this Christmas season.
Set in the 1980s, the story follows a working-class family man who makes a discovery the week of Christmas that forces him to reckon with his own story, and decide whether he will choose costly love, or his and his family’s own security.
My favorite way to describe it is as an anti-”Christmas Carol” (by Dickens). Because it is grounded in some of Ireland’s most troubling history, nothing about it is trite or nostalgic. Yet, the Christmas setting does offer a warmth and beauty, even with the heart-wrenching subject matter. Though it fiercely (and rightly) critiques institutional religion and the evil of greed in those institutions, it is far from anti-faith and offers a quietly moving vision of a life of faith.
It’s remarkably short and I’d recommend finding a copy soon because I couldn’t find a copy last Christmas when I wanted to buy it because bookstores were sold out. It’s also available on Hoopla if your public library uses that service.
If you want a better feel for the book, take a minute to watch this video of the incomparable Sharon Horgan reciting a bit of it.
Ok, so thank you for reading my love letter to “Small Things Like These.” Now I’d love to hear… are there any books you love to read of re-read at Christmas?