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10 Fantastic Suggestions You Can Add To Your Christmas Reading List

10 Fantastic Suggestions You Can Add To Your Christmas Reading List

It’s that time of year again. Target has rolled out their Christmas decorations and children have begun assaulting their parents with a barrage of daily reminders about their specific Christmas gift wishes. As the weather grows colder it’s time to pour a big cup of tea and begin reading some of your favorite Christmas books. Here’s a list of 10 wonderful Christmas books to add to your list.

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

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    “I’ve got the baby here,” Imogene barked at the Wise Men. “Don touch him! I named him Jesus.”

    This is a book to be shared. Read this one out loud to your family or a good friend and you will undoubtedly share many laughs and not a few tears. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story of when the Herdman’s, who were the worst kids ever, decided to get involved in the local church Christmas pageant. It is hilarious, heartwarming and a definite must-read for the Christmas season.

    2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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      “I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”

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      The classic tale of Little Women centers around the lives of the four March sisters, Amy, Beth, Jo and Meg and their mother while their father is away at war. While it isn’t strictly a Christmas book, there are many significant Christmas scenes in the novel and many people associate the novel with Christmas time. My three sisters and I watch the movie version together every Christmas and pretend that we are the March sisters!

      3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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        “Always winter but never Christmas.”

        This fantastical tale is part of a greater series of books written for children. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a story about a magical land cursed by an evil witch. The land is cursed to be always winter…and never Christmas. The book chronicles how four young siblings quite literally stumble upon the world and are soon wrapped up in saving the land of Narnia.

        4. The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn

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          This enchanting holiday treasure mingles historical fact with folklore and shares little-known facts about Christmas through the story of Father Christmas himself. Jeff Guinn also wrote How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas and The Great Santa Search.

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          5. The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

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            “Life is messy. Would that every puzzle piece fell into place, every word was kind, every accident happy, but such is not the case. Life is messy”

            This hilariously ridiculous book will bring some spirit and laughter to your cold, dark December nights. Archangel Raziel has good intentions, but not the best mind to back them up. Read and see how one angel’s attempts to grant a child’s wish leads to the most horrifying Christmas party that one town has ever seen.

            6. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

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              “A weak man in a corner is more dangerous than a strong man”

              If you haven’t read any Agatha Christie yet, then you should. Her books have sold the most copies, second only to the Bible. She is harrowed as the best mystery writer that has ever lived. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is a classic Christie tale full of suspense, murder, a case to be solved and… Christmas pudding! Okay, not all of Christie’s novels have Christmas pudding, but this one certainly does!

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              7. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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                “He was not the nostalgic type. You live life today, not tomorrow, certainly not yesterday, he always said.”

                This fast-paced novel by Grisham explores what happens when Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip Christmas entirely. The Kranks soon discover that skipping the holiday isn’t as simple or as easy as they had hoped it would be.

                8. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

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                  New York Times best-selling author Fannie Flagg shares another warm, unforgettable tale of wonder. When Oswald T. Campbell receives bad news from a doctor he heads south to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the sleepy town of Lost River. There he seems to step into a world where time stands still and he has a magical Christmas that is full of faith and surprises.

                  9. Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

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                    “If you searched every old folks’ home in the country, you couldn’t find anyone who looked more like Santa Claus.”

                    This classic Christmas tale has sold millions of copies since it’s 1947 publication. The innocence and joy of Miracle on 34th Street have been keeping people company during the holiday season for decades.

                    10. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

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                      “If you find that not many of the things you asked for have come, and not perhaps quite so many as sometimes, remember that this Christmas all over the world there are a terrible number of poor and starving people.”

                      Not many people know that the author of the legendary Lord of the Rings series wrote a collection of Christmas letters. Well, he did. Every December a letter that was post stamped from the North Pole would arrive for his children. The letter would be written is spidery, curly cursive and would full of tales from the North Pole. Now we can read those creative tales that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote for his children.

                      Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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                      Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                      Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                      Video Summary

                      Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                      There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                      This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                      Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                      In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                      One Exercise, multiple benefits

                      There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                      By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                      When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                      Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                      In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                      What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                      What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                        1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                        Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                        • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                        • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                        • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                        • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                        2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                          Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                          Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                          3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                            Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                            4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                              Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                              A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                              A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                              On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                              5. You’ll improve overall balance

                                Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                                6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                  Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                  7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                    How to hold a plank position

                                    1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                    2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                    4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                    6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                    Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                    Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                      How to improve your plank time gradually

                                      1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                      2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                      3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                      Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                      Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                      You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                      • Prolapse
                                      • After prolapse surgery
                                      • Pelvic pain conditions
                                      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                      • Previous childbirth
                                      • Overweight

                                      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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