“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveller back to his own fireside and quiet home!” So says Mr. Charlie J. Huffam Dickens, who is most certainly for Christmas. So dust off ye olde copies of A Christmas Carol, light up a crackling fire beneath the mantle, and look yonder, for Christmas is coming, just 24 sleeps from now.

That is just 24 days left in which to purchase up all manner of trinket that will act as proxy for affection this season, decide how many birds stuffed inside other birds is the appropriate number for this year’s dinner, conclude – once and for all – which heart-string-twanging advert is the best, and draw straws to see who is picking up lecherous Uncle Pete and having him and his wandering hands for Christmas Dinner. That’s a lot to fit in and that’s before we devote at least four hours of every day to cosy fireside reading.

Having said that, I rather suspect I will have to forego cosy reading to finish up on all the outstanding reviews I want to write before the year is out. At last count, I had the following on my to-review list: Catcher in the Rye, The Portrait of a Lady, The Myth of Sisyphus, Persuasion, A History of Britain in 21 Women, The Sellout, Heart of Darkness, and Casino Royale. With a candy-floss-filled head like mine, we’re getting towards the stage where some of these are now outside living memory so I’d better get a wriggle on.

I won’t give out too many spoilers for reviews of the above listed books, but can I just say, The Sellout – this year’s Booker winner – is freaking awesome. I’m not sure I understood half the jokes but I internally chortled through the whole thing to confirm for my own satisfaction that I am in fact hip, jive, and funky. And no, using words that haven’t seen the light of day since Huggy Bear was on TV, does not take away from my cool, thank you.

In addition to said reviews I am also plotting a few little Christmas treats in the way of puzzles and quizzes. Tis the season to prove one’s intellectual mettle, after all, so I hope you will indulge me. In the meantime, go wild on mince pies and mulled wine and enjoy the season, whether you are a Christmas celebrator or not.