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Many years ago, on one of those days in December blanketed by snow, I became sick enough to have to stay in bed, and it was before the New Year, a holiday I’d been dreaming about for months. I dreamed about it because it was the best of the long holidays we spent at my grandmother’s house, with my dear aunts whom I could never see enough because we all lived far away. Together, we would decorate the tree, exchange gifts, and eat the heart-shaped chocolate cake. It would snow and life looked calm and perfect enough never to need changing. I still remember the taste of that slice of cake, brought to my bed by my younger aunt.

Then, we had many winters, years, and memories. I kept loving all my aunts but those perfect days were in the past. But we still have the New Year; there’s always a new hope and the New Year celebrates our dream for this hope. So, we should celebrate it in a way that will illuminate our hearts, remind us of how beautiful life is, and leave us with good memories. In celebration of that slice of cake from our childhood, this issue’s selection includes books that make us happy since we were little, in our beautiful and lonely country of winter.

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

If you still haven’t read it, this is a perfect time. One of the loveliest and timeless classics in literature, Little Women begins on Christmas and ends on the next. The women in the family - the March sisters: Jo who’s a tomboy and has set her heart on becoming an author, Meg who’s dreaming of a more glamorous life, gentle Beth, and Amy who’s a bit spoiled but a romantic at heart and their mother - fight poverty as their father is off to fight in the war. A book on the importance of family, the loyalty between sisters despite their differences, tranquillity, the hardship of their effort to survive as women, and above all peace, Little Women is still the novel of our time, in almost every country and language for over 100 years, since its first publication in 1868. Though there are a couple of Turkish translations, I recommend the unabridged text by İş Bankası Yayınları.

Truman Capote (Truman Capote)

Truman Capote may have never been happy in his life; he took solace in parties, pompous nights, and the company of beautiful people to erase the hold his past has on him, having spent his childhood in complete loneliness. Arguably one of Capote’s most moving stories, A Christmas Memory is adorned with autobiographical bits and pieces and focuses on the rare moments of happiness from the author’s childhood. Describing the small and private world built by the seven-year-old narrator and his very old cousin, A Christmas Memory tells the story of two people who can still be happy with what they have despite their poverty and who can still be friends despite their difference in years. The bittersweet and touching stories about the little kid who has grown up and walked other paths in life and his friend who finds it more and more difficult to remember him have also been adapted to theatre and television.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Agatha Christie)

I would read anything written by Agatha Christie, but I enjoy her Christmas stories even better. Besides, the author’s two most beloved characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are featured in the same book for the first time! This book - which was originally published as a Christmas special in six episodes in 1960 - has all one might expect from an Agatha Christie story - snow, fireplaces, millionaires, authors, feasts, and more. Would anyone like to escape the brooding darkness of reality on our shoulders thanks to Miss Marple’s intelligence and curiosity?

One Day in December (Josie Silver )

This time of the year, my most intellectual friends fall into the habit of films about two people with conflicting personalities who (always) fall in love under snow and feel closer to Lindsay Lohan, who’s become full-figured and has made her peace with it. Josie Silver, whose every book becomes a bestseller, creates a similar formula to write uplifting books that usually do not convince you plot-wise but which are usually given a chance during this time of the year, thinking “Why not?” The book tells the story of a winter love that begins on a snowy night when two strangers exchange a gaze on the window of the bus and pursue love at first sight. They may fail to find each other at first; however, on another Christmas night, their paths cross again. This time, though, one is dating the other’s best friend. Years pass and hearts are broken, but their love remains eternal. You could squeeze it in while you still have the time.


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