Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently. From family gatherings with a big meal to taking off for sunnier climes, from going skiing to hitting the beach, from midnight mass to spinning a dreidel, different cultures and difference traditions can make the season marvelous. As we go rapidly approach the holidays under the shadow of a global pandemic the holidays are going to look very different for a lot of families, and many of us are looking for alternative ways to mark the holidays that will allow us to do something special without putting ourselves or those we love at unnecessary risk. Enter: Jolabokaflod.
With thanks to Magnificatz for the graphic, Jolabokaflod is an Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition where you gift books (never a bad thing), and spend your Christmas Eve with a few morsels of chocolate and a new tale. It may not be the most social of traditions, but in an environment where we’re trying to avoid gatherings, this may be the perfect time to start participating in Jolabokaflod. Encouraging people to enjoy the written word is never a bad thing, and who knows what worlds of adventure await you hidden amidst the pages.
With that in mind, some suggestions for your consideration.
Skull Island Expeditions was Privateer Press’ e-book adventure, and while the dedicated site may no longer be available, the tales of the Iron Kingdoms are still available through DriveThruRPG. Whether you’re a fan or Warmachine or Hordes, there are plenty of texts to choose from. Personal favourites include Howard Tayler’s Extraordinary Zoology, Dave Gross’ Dark Convergence, Chris A. Jackson’s Watery Graves, Larry Correia’s Into The Storm, and several of the short story anthologies with tales by Doug Seacat, Aeryn Rudel, Orrin Grey, and a host of other authors.
Games Workshop’s Black Library continues to spit out books at a borderline alarming rate, filling the lore of their assorted universes with books, e-books and audiobooks. Whether you’re into Warhammer 40K or Age of Sigmar, Necromunda or Blood Bowl, you may find something of interest. This year they’ve opened up the Warhammer Crime and Warhammer Horror imprints, including the classic Drachenfels, written in the 80’s by Kim Newman – one of the first game-related novels I ever read as a nascent nerd, donchaknow. The Siege of Terra also continues in their cataloguing of the events of the Horus Heresy, the defining conflict of the Warhammer 40K setting.
If you ever ask me for a book recommendation and I don’t reference Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld at some point, I may be trying to subtly let you know that I’ve been kidnapped or something. There are 41 canon Discworld novels, written over 32 years. The earliest parody fantasy tropes and literature, while later books satirize elements of present day life and society. Wyrd Sisters, for example, parodies Macbeth , while Monstrous Regiment cocks an eyebrow at war, propoganda, and gender roles. Most recently I reread Unseen Academicals, which is – on the surface – a tale about the citizen of Ankh Morpork formalizing a soccer (nee football) league, but along the way has something to say about at inclusion vs exclusion, nature vs nurture, the link between ignorance and racism. All in a fantasy setting with a smattering of both Romeo & Juliet and Cinderella. There are so many great books in the series that where to start can be a much bigger question than it would first seem, but there are Reading Order lists out there and I’d be happy to help point anyone in the right direction.
The gift of a book can amazing. It can be from an author you know the recipient loves, or it can be an opportunity to share one of your own favorite authors. If you want to go non-fiction, it can be a stepping stone into a new hobby or field of interest, or even a promise of an activity that you’ll share with the recipient once we’re on the other side of the pandemic, such as with a new RPG book (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything just released for Dungeons & Dragons), a new sourcebook for tabletop gaming (The Broken Realms event for Age of Sigmar has started with Morathi), or perhaps something to fuel the creative side (Such as Angel Giraldez’s Masterclass). Maybe this year, since many of us can’t gather with our loved ones, the gift of reading may provide some comfort, should we take a tip from Iceland.