Thoughtful Thursday: Ho Ho Humbug

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsA few things here before we get going.

Don’t forget to enter our “Anticipate the Best of 2010″ contest from two weeks ago. The winner will be announced next week.

Congratulations to Karen Wester Newton for winning the book of her choice from our stacks on last week’s Thoughtful Thursday. I’m considering asking for an iPad for a birthday present next year. We’ll see how well e-books and tree books get along. Karen, contact us to let us know what book you want.

Now, I’m a professor, and this is finals week. Do you know what that means? I am tired. I am cranky. I have already burned through one grading pen, and I have three classes left to grade. This makes me cranky when I read. And with the time of year and the cold and snow and ice and sleet and the stupid guy ahead of me thinking he can make a 90 degree turn at 45 miles an hour on a sheet of ice and fishtailing all over the road, I am not quite in the holiday spirit.

So along those lines, I’ve been thinking about holidays in literature and how stereotypical I find them.  If I read one more midwinter festival where everyone either a. sits around in the dark all night or b. sits around the fireplace with a burning fire all night, I might stab myself in the eyeball with an icicle.

So, dear readers, I turn to you for salvation from icy blindness and grinchy woe. What are the most interesting holiday traditions you’ve read about in fantasy? The most creative holiday will win you a book of your choices from our stacks. Bonus points if you make me shoot egg-nog out my nose from laughing.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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7 comments

  1. I always wanted to go to a Longest Night fete in Terre d’Ange.

    Or maybe a Yule Ball at Hogwarts. ;)

  2. I’m a big Discworld fan, so I have to bring up Terry Pratchet’s version of Santa – the Hogfather, who goes around the Disc on Hogswatch, in a sled pulled by 4 pigs (Tusker, Rooter, Gouger and Snouter) to deliver gifts to boys and girls. It’s a great book and one I often reread around the holidays. It also contains one of my single favorite quotes from Pratchett’s books – a conversation between Death (who speaks in ALL CAPS) and Susan Sto Helit:

    “All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.
    REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE
    Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little-
    YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES
    So we can believe the big ones?
    YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

  3. Oh, yes, how could I forget the Hogfather? There’s also that great moment when the kids Susan is nannying say something overly cutesy, and she threatens them with some kind of over-the-top doom if they don’t stop being twee. I wish I remembered the quote better or knew where the heck I’d put the book.

  4. Ah, the uses of Amazon’s Search Inside:

    “I was just skipping–”

    “Quite. Real children don’t go hoppity-skip unless they are on drugs.”

    He grinned at her.

    “If I catch you being twee again I will knot your arms behind your head,” said Susan levelly.

  5. Oh yes, that’s hilarious. Susan is sort of the anti-Mary Poppins.

  6. The only holiday/festival setting that comes to mind is Talia at the Collegium in the Arrows of the Queen books. Those festivals in servants hall sounded like fun. Sorry, Ruth. No egg nog snorting there.

    I am going to have to try Pratchett one of these days.

  7. The Turducken. Seriously that is a lot of meat. What is crazier is hat I saw reference that in castle times they would stuff everything into each other. chicken-pheasant-turkey=-goose-swan-pig-deer-cow-elk goes I don’t even want to think of the combos. I hope they did not leave the fur on some of those.
    This might not be set in any particular book but I have read in books of stuffing several animals together.

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