In a way, Christmas holidays are a little strange. It’s the one time of the year when the majority of the population is all off work at the same time but unlike other times of the year when we take annual leave to flee the country for a brief adventure abroad, most of us spend our Christmas holiday not far from our own home.
Sure, there’s a lot going on. Friends and family visiting. Various nights out and annual catch-up meals. For a a brief stint of the Christmas period, the socialising becomes overwhelming. And then those quiet moments strike. The quiet moments where everyone is either snoozing or quietly recharging somewhere in the house. It’s these moments that you should treasure. Interpret these beautifully, calm moments as a chance to escape into the pages of a book you’ve been meaning to read for ages.
At other times of the year, reading feels more like a ritual saved for your bedtime routine. It’s less about cosying up with a book because you just feel like it and more about squeezing in some reading when you can. During the wintery Christmas break however, cosying into a little reading nook is the ultimate luxury.
If like us, you’ve had books mounting by your bedside all year, promising that next week weekend you’ll finally get stuck in, now is the time to kick back, relax and lose yourself in the fictional world of another.
Need some new reads? Scroll on.
The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown
I started this while in New York and continued with it upon my return, using it to get my New York fix when I so desperately wanted to still be there. While Brown takes us through her years as Editor of the American magazine, you get a glimpse of the fashion industry through the 80s and 90s and the emergence of the names that now hold such a prominent titles within the magazine world.
The format is the book is as the title suggests, diary entries from Tina Brown’s time revamping Vanity Fair, starting with her departure from Tatler in London and her initial move to New York City. By the time the book comes to an end it feels as if you know Brown with her dry witted humour and total honesty plastered all over the page. Certain names and their behaviour that crop up throughout the book may surprise you and in the case of Anna Wintour in particular, just might shift your perspective on them.
I devoured each and every page, lavishing in the politics, the backstabbing rivalries and the inside scoop on some of the industries more famous covers. Follow Brown as she settles into life in the city, creates a home and a family and triumphantly reinvents a failing magazine.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
The Light We Lost is the perfect page turner for the Christmas break. Coincidentally, also set in New York City, this story follows a young couple who first meet on the day of 9/11 and from that day forward, are forever intertwined in one another’s lives. The events of that day result in a joint decision to live lives that mean something, that matter, that make a difference.
Serendipitously, they meet again a year later and are joint at the hip. Gabe then becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East while Lucy makes her decision to stay and build her career in New York City.
What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Their journey will take Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
Was it fate that brought them together?
Is it choice that has kept them away?
Becoming by Michelle Obama
It seems every day since the book’s release Michelle Obama is bringing us something more wonderful. Most recently it was the Balenciaga look she wore while speaking about her book at the Barclays Centre with none other than fashion queen herself, Sarah Jessica Parker. Before that she caused uproar criticising Lean In and swearing while on her book tour – much to the world’s amusement. Since its release five weeks ago, the former first lady has sold 3.8 million copies of her book – a pretty impressive feat for any author.
The book is an autobiographical memoir of Obama’s life so far. She’s described the book as being a deeply personal experience with the book going all the way back to her roots, covering how she found her voice, her public health campaign and her role as a mother. We also get a little inside scoop on her relationship with Barack Obama so really, what’s not to love?
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
For those craving a little psychological thrill this Christmas, this is the one for you.
Set in an English mansion, Frances is there to write a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But who are they? She first spots them through a peephole in her bathroom, a peephole that suddenly gives her access to her neighbours’ private lives. But when the neighbours – Cara and Peter – take her under their wing, their lavish lifestyle soon becomes concerning.
As the summer rolls on, it becomes clear to Frances that something isn’t right. Stories that don’t make sense logistically, strange boundaries of truth and lies, a life dedicated to hedonism. Then occurs a crime so terrible that it will brand all of their lives forever.
Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham dreamt of a life dedicated to fashion and so, uprooting his life from Boston to New York City, he did just that. Sadly, his family didn’t share the same dreams for him and battling to pursue his fashionable dream was no easy feat. Upon arrival in New York he spent much of his time people watching, often gate-crashing VIP events where he would simply take style notes of all that were there, take in the atmosphere and let his fashionable future seamlessly come together.
Despite his love of observing the fashion choices of others and despite being one of the city’s more recognised and treasured figures, Bill Cunningham was very guarded. Fashion Climbing allows us a look at the life of a young man striving to be what he was born to be: a true original. Cunningham penned the memoir and kept it safe throughout us life, stored away until his passing and only then did he intend for it to be shared.
Written in his infectious joy and one-of-a-kind voice, between these covers is an education in style, an effervescent tale of a bohemian world as it once was, and a final gift to the readers of one of New York’s great characters