2020 Christmas Books from Santa Claus: Essay
Like every Christmas for the past thirty-one years of my life, I received gifts from Santa Claus this year. Many people wonder when I say that I received Santa’s gifts, but I don’t take it badly. I have a perfect equation with Santa, and he has never failed to gift me presents that I have asked for every Christmas. This year like the past maybe twenty years, I asked for books. I sent my letter to Santa via my maternal uncle Blaise Martis addressed to the North Pole in Iceland. I’ve been using the same address for the past twenty or so years and receiving my gifts. So I guess the address is accurate. I penned my letter to Santa somewhere around June or July. I asked for a few books, and I did get a few – fifty books.
As usual, after watching the Catholic Mass, which ended at 12:30 am, my family and I wished each other a Happy Christmas. Then I immediately hurried everyone up to bed so that Santa could come. I slept in the room where I am writing this essay in a little writing nook, which I call ‘my corner’. I rested here, or rather, I read the night away until 4:45 am, after which I visited the toilet. While visiting, I tried not to take a peek under the Christmas tree, but I could not help myself; there were just too many books under there! But I controlled my excitement, visited the toilet, and ran back to bed, happy with the thought that like every year, Santa Claus had not forgotten me yet again.
I woke up from my sleep at around 7:00 am and went directly to check out my books under the Christmas tree. As I mentioned before, there were fifty books in all, thirty-five physical books and fifteen Kindle books. Yes, I had kept my Kindle aside so that Santa could get the books on the device while I slept. I was overcome with the wonderful selection of books ranging from rare classic books from the New York Review of Books to biographies of famous American personalities, contemporary novels, Catholic religious books, non-fiction books galore, American history books, Social Issue and Sociology books, and some all-time favorite authors like dear old Ruskin Bond.
I am so grateful that Santa thought of me again this year, and I will read these books in the coming months and review or analyze them for you here on my blog insaneowl.com. It is a very eclectic and rich collection this year, focusing on something that I have been working on for the whole Winter of 2020, and that is American fiction and non-fiction bookish material. There are more than ten American fiction and non-fiction books in the collection. I hope to get to them before my American bookish season is over, which I am currently celebrating on my blog. I have already started reading Barack Obama’s much talked about A Promised Land. A Promised Land reads well and is very idealistic and similar to his earlier memoir, The Audacity of Hope. I did a book review on The Audacity of Hope which you can check out here. A Promised Land was one book I was eager to read, and I am glad Santa picked this book to gift to me this Christmas.
But Barack Obama is not the only distinguished American personality in book form gifted to me by Santa this Christmas. I have books on and by Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Kamala Harris, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Lewis, and many more. I have recently done a book review of Evan Osnos’s book, Joe Biden: American Dreamer, which you can check out here. I am excited about my famous American personalities collection and hope to read all of them in the coming days, weeks, and months. I have always been an American baby. While my maternal uncle Blaise loves British writers and personalities, I love American. There is so much vibrancy in the USA that it captures me as a book lover, voracious reader, and social issue writer. America is fascinating and is a country where dreams come true. I am very attached to America and love to read American bookish content, especially American historians’ writings. Unlike Blaise, who loved the British Council Library here in Mumbai, I have always preferred the American Library, which has been shifted to the American Embassy and is called the Dosti House. I used to go there every month to borrow American fiction and non-fiction books. After the pandemic, I’ve been borrowing books from them via courier service, and they are very efficient in their delivery. I have grown in my love for America and wish to celebrate the American spirit this Winter by creating study and reference material. I will end my American bookish season at the end of January 2021.
But there are other books under the Christmas tree as well. I hope to get to the tiny Ruskin Bond books about his life when he sat in a garret or basement area in England after leaving India and wrote his first novel, The Room on the Roof, one of my favorite stories. Ruskin Bond is my favorite writer, and he is one author whose books I buy without reading the synopsis or for which age group the book is meant. I guess Santa also knew my love for Ruskin Bond, the writer of the hills, and so gifted me a children’s version of this part of Ruskin Bond’s life. It’s called A Song of India and I hope to read the book as soon as the American Season is over. Ruskin Bond is my second all-time favorite writer. I have written about him in my bookish memoir Scenes of a Reclusive Writer & Reader of Mumbai, which you can purchase on my blog’s products page. The book was also a finalist in the 2020 DBW Awards. You can check out my blog post here.
In the collection under the tree, there are rare classics from the New York Review of Books catalog. The New York Review of Books has been printing old forgotten classics for quite a while now, and it was thoughtful of Santa Claus to get me some of these books to read, review, and analyze. In all, there are eight of them. The one I’m most keen on reading first is Elizabeth Hardwick’s collected essays. She was an American journalist and novelist as well as a literary critic. I am very eager to read her essays. I love reading essays more than I love reading short stories or novels. I used to be a pure fiction reader until 2007, which means I was eighteen years old. After that, in college, I discovered non-fiction and essays, and since then, there has been no looking back. I have also written both my memoirs in essay form. It is the most comfortable mode of writing where I am concerned. I adopt the essay writing style of Ruskin Bond, which you may notice is very simplistic but also self-deprecating in tone. I’ll try and remedy that. Recently I read in a book that even self-deprecating essays is a style form in English literature!
Then there are Catholic books under the tree, which are the tiniest in the lot. There are five in all, one of them being the autobiography of a clergyman I admire, Fulton Sheen. I have always wanted to read his book but have never had the time to do so. There are also books about Pope Francis and how the Roman Catholic church is trying to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. I am a nihilist and an atheist in my manner and general make up, but I practice my Catholic faith very religiously. I especially love to read books on Catholic theology and the Catholic edition of the Holy Bible. I just finished reading the New Community Bible from start to finish during the first lockdown in Mumbai. I read the Bible in two months. You can check out my blog post here. I enjoy reading Catholic theology, though I’m am not exactly an ardent believer. These Catholic books under the tree are tiny except for the Fulton Sheen book, but I am quite sure I’ll be tackling the Sheen book when I get to reading religious theology. I find it saddening that not many inter-religious books are coming out in the general Indian book market. I hope the situation changes soon.
Santa’s gifts this year 2020 also included fiction books but mostly in Kindle format. The fiction books are penned by Sue Monk Kidd, Harlen Coben, James McBride, Matt Haig, Susan Abulhawa, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, Maggie O’Farrell, and Roberto Bolano. I write books mostly in the fiction category, and I have noticed that since 2015 the writing style has undergone a very subtle change, which I like. Let us not forget that I love Booker Prize books, which give a reader and a writer a good idea about which books are worthwhile and which writing style is doing well in the market. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize award, and everyone has spoken so much about how unexpected a choice it was. I am keen on reading this fiction book first, after which I will review it on my blog insaneowl.com. I’ve noticed that Santa has mostly gifted the fiction books in the Kindle format. That was wise of him because I prefer reading fiction books on my Kindle. But there are quite a few non-fiction books too that are on my Kindle.
Kindle books are always welcome, though I prefer physical books. But these are the days of COVID-19, so definitely some allowances had to be made for Santa. My library book collection has also increased to nearly 31,500 books, which is getting very cumbersome to catalog and store. I live in a modest 1BKH and need to buy another place to house my books, just like my fourth all-time favorite writer Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Even he, the emancipator of the Dalit caste people in India, only bought a new house because he could not fit his book collection in his old home in a Dalit chawl area. He owned and still owns around 50,000 books, and he passed away in the year 1956. I have yet many miles ago to reach his score, and I do not exactly want to. But I can’t help it because it’s always love at first sight when I see books.
This brings me to the important books in this Santa Claus selection: social issues, social history, culture, and Sociology books. I have always written books that are termed as social issue fiction. My latest children’s book with co-author Michaelangelo Zane also deals indirectly with social issues around the Vedic Age in India. It is titled, Someone is Burning My Lord, Kumbaaya, and you can purchase the book for your child here. I am a person who loves to highlight social issues and creating awareness of specific faults in our culture and social system. I love reading books that educate me on this point, and there are quite a few books under the Christmas tree that meet my needs. There are plenty of such books, two of which are on the Shaheen Bagh protest movement. The Shaheen Bagh protest is one of the reasons why democracy still reigns supreme in my country India. But as Barack Obama mentions in his book A Promised Land, we must not forget that many cynical people believe India cannot retain their democracy. Protests like Shaheen Bagh remind us of our nation’s many diversities and that even unlettered men and women of our nation know the true value of their fundamental rights. Other books in this category deal with caste issues, the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and Russia’s current situation.
In this essay, I have taken you on a bookish journey through my 2020 Santa Claus books. I wish to end my writing with a declaration: I believe in Santa Claus, and that I hope his love comes to every one of you this year, especially little children who have been having a very tough time during this pandemic. I hope everyone has a beautiful Christmas and Holiday Season. I love it when small children still believe in Santa and the idea that he brings gifts on Christmas Day. I hope this Christmas, other than toys, books, and the Covid-19 vaccine, Santa brings a bit of unity in our divided world. It was bad enough that we were divided on so many ongoing issues before the pandemic and to think that some people are still at each other’s throats is not something worthy of the Christmas Spirit. Let us also be Santa’s in other people’s lives not only on Christmas day but every day of the year. Let’s work together. Let’s live together. Let’s read together. Merry Christmas and Happy reading to you always!
If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you are interested in purchasing my books, you can check out my blog’s products page or my author’s page on Amazon. There is a lot of good stuff to buy! Happy reading to you always!
Copyright © 2020 Fiza Pathan