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Hearts as Black as Coal: 5 Holiday Reads for the Outwardly Cynical

I can be a bit of a holiday killjoy. I'm not one of those people who sings carols at the top of my lungs. I shudder at the thought of Black Friday madness, or setting foot in any store at all during the holiday season. I roll my eyes if I hear Christmas music before the first week of December. I smirk at poems about snowman poop. And I wouldn't be caught dead wearing jewelry with a bell on it.

That's not to say that I hate the holiday season. I don't. Like most people, I have traditions that I hold dear. But I approach Christmas with a healthy dose of detachment and humor. (An example of one of those traditions I hold dear: in my household, we roar with laughter while listening to David Rakoff's Santa Freud and David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries as we decorate the tree.) I also love books that are over-the-top and poke fun at the most ridiculous parts of the holiday season.

If you appreciate an over-the-top look at the holiday season, check out some of the books below.


Amazon Says: Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a more...
Amazon Says: Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe. 'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. It is the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, after all. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen. Only Christopher Moore, the man who brought you the outrageous lost gospel Lamb and the hysterical fish tale Fluke could have devised a new holiday classic that tugs at the heartstrings and serves up a healthy slice of fruitcake to boot. Move over, Charles Dickens -- it's Christopher Moore time. less...
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A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor
Amazon Says: A short comic novel about a Hawaii-bound holiday traveler who ends up stranded in his North Dakota hometown during a blizzard. A wealthy and depressed man (thanks to the econ more...
Amazon Says: A short comic novel about a Hawaii-bound holiday traveler who ends up stranded in his North Dakota hometown during a blizzard. A wealthy and depressed man (thanks to the economy he’s not quite rich enough to expand his cache of paintings by Vincent Van Guy, the famed Dutch realist) bound for Christmas in the tropics is abruptly summoned home to North Dakota to visit an ailing aunt. He arrives just in time to be trapped there by a blizzard. The electricity goes out, and when it does, figures from his childhood appear, and historical figures too, for a festive candlelit holiday. In his reverie, our man reaches an epiphany worthy of the season—he hears the harkening angels sing, he is awed by the silence of the night (dead quiet: not even TV) and when he is finally rescued, leaves North Dakota resolved to simplify his life. less...
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Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Amazon Says: David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's el more...
Amazon Says: David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey"). No matter what your favorite holiday, you won't want to miss celebrating it with the author who has been called "one of the funniest writers alive" (Economist). less...
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Amazon Says: There's nothing like the holidays. They bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in everyone. Luckily, Neil Pasricha is here to remind us that not only are the holidays more...
Amazon Says: There's nothing like the holidays. They bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in everyone. Luckily, Neil Pasricha is here to remind us that not only are the holidays great but there's actually even more to celebrate than we realize. From Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to such holidays as Mother's Day and Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and beyond, The Book of (Holiday) Awesome will show you why holidays are . . . AWESOME! Plugging in the Christmas lights from last year and having them all work. When the in-laws leave. Successfully regifting a present to someone who actually wants it. Drinking with Grandma. Just barely wrapping a gift with that tiny scrap of leftover wrapping paper. Knowing Kwanzaa is worth more Scrabble points than Hanukkah or Christmas. less...
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When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey
Amazon Says: “The undisputed king of the comic crime novel.”—Providence JournalNobody does Florida weirdness quite like Tim Dorsey! Case in point: When Elves Attack, the New Yo more...
Amazon Says: “The undisputed king of the comic crime novel.”—Providence JournalNobody does Florida weirdness quite like Tim Dorsey! Case in point: When Elves Attack, the New York Times bestselling author’s twisted Christmas present to his legion of adoring fans who can’t get enough of thrill-killer and Sunshine State historian Serge A. Storms, the most endearing psychopath since Dexter. Dorsey offers the perfect antidote for all those sappy feel-good holiday stories with this zany blockbuster extravaganza in which his wonderfully deranged serial killer Floridaphile delivers his special brand of Christmas cheer. More outrageous than Santa Claus in a Speedo, When Elves Attack serves up a Yuletide feast of the “pure gonzo humor” the New York Times Book Review enthusiastically attributes to this fearlessly funny writer. Think Bad Santa and National Lampoon’s Family Vacation, blend in Dorsey’s trademark appetite for destruction, and you’ve got hilarious crime fiction black comedy that anyone would be thrilled to discover stuffed in their Christmas stocking. less...
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