This Christmas, read a story aloud – you’ll be surprised by the joy it brings

With many of us set to spend Christmas on Zoom or the phone, author Sarah Hall shares why dark and daring tales are perfect to read to others – and 10 great stories to try

As this year of illness, lockdown and loneliness heads towards its bitter end, finding ways to keep connected and our spirits buoyed is crucial. This might have seemed like the year of the writer, because cabin fever, economic precariousness and a climate of dystopia are staples for the profession. It might have been the year of the reader, as the desultory days of furlough and confinement allowed for more leisure activity. Certainly, ebook and classics sales are up.

A lot has been asked of literature in 2020. What do we need during hard, uncertain, even barricaded times? Escape? Comfort? A better vision of the world or a mirror of our malaise?

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