While the holidays are often seen as a time of gathering and togetherness, there are many for whom that is not the case. Whether due to strained or complex familial relationships, mental health reasons, or a combination of all or none of these things, some of us will be spending the holidays alone — and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Solitude oftentimes gives us the chance to decompress and put our lives in perspective. What’s a better way to do this — and get through the holidays — than with a book (or several)?
Here are some reading recommendations that are aimed at helping you deconstruct your (often complicated) feelings about this time of year.
Disillusioned by (Holiday) Consumerism
Consumed: The Need for Collective Change by Aja Barber
As a society, we consume too much. And consumerism is at its highest between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Aja Barber’s Consumed: The Need for Collective Change is a book that scrutinizes why we buy what we buy and why it is an issue, especially in the context of climate change. Barber also explores how various industries (specifically the textile industry) help to fuel modern-day slavery and growing wealth inequality.
Sick of Christmas Songs
A Very Mexican Christmas (part of an anthology series by New Vessel Press)
For those who are spending Christmas alone, or who may not have fond memories of the holiday, A Very Mexican Christmas provides an intimate glimpse into how the holiday is celebrated in Mexican culture. Through various illustrations and accounts that show how cooking and storytelling are intertwined in Mexican tradition, A Very Mexican Christmas offers a glimpse into how Christmas is observed throughout the world — or an opportunity to educate and celebrate.
- A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories by Bettye Collier-Thomas
- Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion by Karen L. Garst, Ph.D.
All About Love by Bell Hooks
“Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving,” the late feminist scholar bell hooks writes in All About Love, a paramount book that discusses a feeling that is all too often reflected upon during the holiday season. But in this book, hooks makes the claim that love is a verb in its richest form. During the holidays, especially, it is comforting to receive this — that solitude doesn’t mean a life devoid of love.
- How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie
The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown
The New Year is an ideal time to reflect upon where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brené Brown offers tools to deal with emotions that are all too present during the holidays — including impostor syndrome. According to Dr. Brown, her bestselling book is “a call that rises up from our bellies when we find the courage to celebrate those intensely joyful moments even though we’ve convinced ourselves that savoring happiness is inviting disaster.”
- Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes by Jessica Pan
- You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh