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Engaging Methuen Readers


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Christmas Books and Movies

I’m a sucker for a media tie-in/novelization, and at Christmas time it seems like nearly all the Christmas movies are in someway or somehow created directly from, or inspired by Christmas books.

Some of these movies won’t be surprising to most, they’re either classics, or they don’t hide that they’re from books. But, with a lot of them, the only way you can tell is from a quick flash of an author’s name and their book’s title during the credits.

They fall into three categories:

The Famous Ones

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

There are three, count them, three movies with this title or a title very much like it that you can watch. I’m talking about the original 25 minute short with Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscroft (speaking and singing respectively).

It’s based on the book by Dr. Seuss, and, you can’t go wrong with either watching the movie or reading the book because the two stories are so similar. Just, I beg you, don’t watch the Jim Carey version!

A Christmas Carol

Definitely go read this book if you haven’t yet. There are a bunch of different and great versions of this. Personally, the one with Patrick Stewart, and the Muppet Christmas Carol are my favorites.

Luckily, whether you like George Scott, Jim Carey, or any of the other takes on the classic story, there seems to be a Christmas Carol for everyone.

The Polar Express

This (at the time) was a groundbreaking movie because it melded live action motion capture with animation.

Like the Grinch, the author, Chris Van Allsburg was one of the producers, and, you can tell that in how close the book and movie are in theme, tone, and plot.

It’s a Wonderful Life

In the final one of the famous movies, this is a definite classic, and, the only one on this part of the list that I didn’t know was based on a story. It’s based on “The Greatest Gift” short story by Philip Van Doren Stern.


The Surprising Ones

Ah, we’ve gotten to the Hallmark/Lifetime/Up/Etc. movies. Quite a few of these are based on one book or another. Some of them tout that, but, a lot of them don’t.

Here are just a smattering of them:

Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses

The movie is a Hallmark one, and, we’re starting with an easy one because it’s based on a book of the same name by Jenny Hale.

It’s about Abbey and Nick. Abbey gets hired to decorate Nick’s family’s mansion, and, well, Nick is a bit of a grump about it at first.

Hale writes a lot of Christmas romance books, but, also has some set in the summer as well. She also has “Coming Home for Christmas” which was on Hallmark in 2017 and also based on a book of hers of the same name.

Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow

When you’re Debbie Macomber, you get to have people know from the outset that the movie is based on your book.

This movie (and book) is about Ashley and Dash, who wind up having to share a car so that Ashley can get home. There’s even a bit of a suspenseful subplot that goes on, and –the– cutest dog ever on television.

She also has at least two or three other (very obviously titled) Christmas movies.

The Nine Lives of Christmas

Based on a book of the same name by Sheila Roberts. Zach is a fireman and committment-phobe who adops a stray cat (yay, it’s a cat and not a dog movie!!) and then happens to meet a Veterinary Student who may just break his phobia.

And, it also looks like Sheila Roberts has gone cross channel, and has a Lifetime Christmas movie as well called, “On Strike for Christmas”. Gutsy.

The Mistletoe Secret

The Mistletoe Secret is based on a book of the same name by Richard Paul Evans. Aria convinces a famous travel writer to come to her hometown for Christmas, but, instead there’s some big ole twists and turns in there when the travel writer’s ghostwriter shows up first.

Richard Paul Evans doesn’t just have a Christmas movie in this millenium either. But, back in 1995 his book “The Christmas Box” got turned into a movie too.

The Book/Movie being Semi-Simultaneous Published

Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 version, also known as, the only one that I will acknowledge).

I did not know that the film and book came out at the same time. I guess if Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick can do it, so can Valentine Davies (he wrote the movie and the novelization of it).


If these aren’t enough movies to keep you busy until the 25th, here are a couple of good links for this years (and previous years) Christmas movies that are based on books:

https://www.ibtimes.com/11-hallmark-2019-christmas-movies-based-books-2852418
https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/gallery/13-brilliant-christmas-movies-based-on-books-and-stories/ss-AAlECSc


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Holiday Blues Are Real. Here Are Some Resources For Dealing With Them

Feeling down because of the holidays? You’re not alone! Holiday time is a major cause of depression, so much so that the disease has come to be associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s no need to mourn your negative feelings. You’re not a Scrooge or a Grinch, you’re just stressed out by the travel, eating unusual foods, and adjusting to family members you probably don’t see over the rest of the year. No wonder you need a minute!

These resources are meant to be useful, but they’re no substitute for expert care. If you need help right away, contact a mental health therapist, the Samaritans, or, if you feel that you might be in danger, 911. If you’re in recovery and struggling with proximity to alcohol, try contacting SAMHSA’s free national helpline.

 

The APA Holiday Stress Resource Center

This is the mother lode of holiday depression resources. Got an uncle who gets political? They have a resource for that. Worried that you’re going to destroy the turkey? They can help you there, too.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Guide To Managing Holiday Stress

This well-known clinic treats holiday stress like any other ailment: by itemizing the symptoms and treatment. This can be very useful for anyone who’s not sure if they’re just down or if their mood will pass with the old year.

Every Imaginable Holiday Stress Topic From PsychCentral.com

From being grateful in hard times to enjoying the holidays if you’re in recovery, this list of articles runs the gamut. If it doesn’t cover every single source of stress out there, then it surely must come close.

The Mayo Clinic’s Guide To Holiday Stress Management

From setting a realistic budget to doubling down on your healthy habits, the good doctors at the Mayo Clinic know how to manage the holiday blues.

Hospice Foundation Of America Holiday Grief Support

The holidays are particularly hard if you have recently experienced a loss. In this situation, it’s especially important for you to take care of yourself. Hospices across the country run special support groups around the holidays, but this web page can provide additional help.

Editor’s Note:  For locals, the Merrimack Valley Hospice will be having a special “Coping With the Holidays” grief support group Tuesday December 17th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at St. Michael’s Parish in North Andover.  Free and Open to the Public.  For more information and to register, please call 978-552-4510.

Cat Cafes Across the U.S.

Sometimes you just need a moment to get away and de-stress. Use this North American directory of cat cafes to find a place to quietly drink a cup of tea and pet a kitty nearby. You can always tell your family you’re going out on a food run.


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Not Your Mom’s Christmas Tale

Happy merry bells of Yuletide, everybody! String your lights and play some Bing Crosby, because it is once again the coziest and most wholesome time of the year.

If you’re not sure how you’re going to survive, then this post is for you. These are tales of Christmas awkward and Christmas a little close to home, Christmas haywire and Christmas out of control. If you’re just about done with carols and fir trees, try one of these strange and refreshingly wicked reads.

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The Hogfather by Terry PratchettImage of item

Ya gotta believe…or life as Discworld knows it will end. When a shadowy assassin’s guild hires an expert to kill the Santa-like Hogfather, Death must take over the portly gift-giver’s role for a night. A hilarious and rollicking ride through Pratchett’s Discworld universe, with appearances by the Unseen University, Death’s granddaughter Susan, and, of course, the ever-popular Death. No familiarity with the series is necessary to enjoy this installment, but afterward, you might find yourself wanting to read the rest, too. This rollicking fantasy has also been adapted for the screen.

 

 

 

 

Image of itemThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Herdmans are the worst. Hands-down, no question, point-blank the worst kids ever. They swear. They hit other kids. They only come to church because they hear that there are snacks. However, once there, they decide to invade the annual Nativity pageant and play all of the main characters, and who’s going to say “no” to the Herdmans? As the barbaric group runs amok over Christmas, the congregation begins to expect a disastrous play. But be not afraid! When all is said and done, everyone might learn something about the Christmas spirit from the Herdmans. Though nominally for children, this book is a hilarious winner for all age groups, and a quick read for busy adults.

 

 

 

 

The Stupidest Angel: a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror by Christopher MooreImage of item

Little Joshua saw someone killing Santa Claus – or, at least, someone dressed up as Santa Claus – and now he has just one Christmas wish: please let Santa not be dead. Unfortunately for everyone, the Archangel Raziel, the Lord’s stupidest servant, has descended to Earth to grant the sincere Christmas wish of an innocent child. Chaos erupts as Raziel, whose good nature is somewhat impeded by a tendency to take things literally, grants the child’s wish. Uproarious and twisted. We highlighted this story in a previous post, but it bears mentioning twice because it’s just that funny.

 

 

 

Image of itemHolidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Once you’ve been a Christmas elf, the holidays just aren’t the same. This collection features Sedaris’ popular early essay, “The Santaland Diaries,” which has been featured on NPR several times. Dark and satirical, and with quite a bit of wry social commentary thrown in, these aren’t exactly “The Night Before Christmas.” However, many hit home. They’re also ideal for family gatherings thanks to their brevity. Read them aloud for the adults after the kids have turned in to wait for Santa.

 

 

 

 

The Haunted Tea-Cosy: a dispirited and distasteful diversion for Image of itemChristmas by Edward Gorey

On Christmas Eve, a spectre interrupts Edmund Gravel’s Christmas fruitcake. It is the Spectre of Christmas that Never Was, and is followed by that Spectres of Christmases that Aren’t and Never Will Be. Join him as he is whisked away on a journey strangely reminiscent of that of a certain Ebeneezer Scrooge, but with more wit and irreverence. Thrill as he witnesses Affecting Scenes, Distressing Scenes, and Heart-Rending Scenes. Anyone who has ever rolled their eyes at an overdone production of A Christmas Carol will appreciate this tongue in cheek, highly visual adaptation.

 

 

Image of itemKrampus: the Yule Lord by Brom

“Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head.”

 

 

 

 

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S.G. Brown15801662e

There’s no good way to say it: Andy is disguised as Santa Claus and hiding from medical researchers. This is because he is a member of the living dead demographic, whose struggle for civil rights is going less than brilliantly. But when he meets a sad nine-year-old girl who really thinks he’s Santa Claus, he gets into the act! Meanwhile, an underground undead resistance needs Andy’s help to continue the cause. Can Andy achieve zombie equality and rescue Christmas? Let’s hope so! (Available in the Commonwealth Catalog – just search for “zombies eating Santa Claus”)

 

 

 

 

Image of itemWhen Elves Attack: a joyous Christmas greeting from the criminal nutbars of the Sunshine State by Tim Dorsey

Fans of Dexter will likely enjoy the psychopathic Serge A. Storms as he gets into the holiday spirit. Whether racking up a body count or spreading Christmas cheer in his own inimitable way, Serge endangers the public good even as he entertains readers. This is part of a series by the quirky, gonzo-style Tim Dorsey, but don’t worry if you haven’t read the rest. It’s a good New Year’s resolution, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet EvanovichImage of item

Who is the mysterious man who appears in Stephanie Plum’s kitchen? And why is he also looking for Santa Claus? It’ll take half of Trenton, NJ to solve the caper! Evanovich has a massive fan contingent and many of our readers may already be familiar with her. The zany life of her star Fugitive Apprehension Agent (read bounty hunter) takes on a supernatural twist in this fun holiday installation.