An illustration of a stack of books being carved like a turkey, with gravy being drizzled over it.

What you should read, based on your favourite bit of Christmas dinner

Everyone has their preferred festive fare – but what might it tell you about your reading habits? Here, we use cutting-edge literary science to formulate a personalised recommended book list, whether you’re a stuffing buff, a potato pundit or a sprout savant.

Most of us learned long ago to keep politics away from the family Christmas table, but then, the more divisive conversation is sitting right there in front of you isn’t it: which part of the festive feast is best?

Is it turkey? Stuffing? Pudding? Dare we say it: bread sauce?

Whatever your choice, it’s none of our business, but we’d be remiss not to let you in on something of a literary secret: there is, in fact, a scientific correlation between your preferred Christmas dish and the type of books you read, and we’ve gathered a host of the country’s leading experts to reveal its mysteries. Below, allow them to guide you from plate to page, in a miracle we’re attributing to science and Christmas in equal measure.




Brussels sprouts


Pigs in blankets

Bread Sauce

*Deep sigh* Ok, we gave the sprouts people the benefit of the doubt, and the parsnip people as well. So we’re going to give it to you, too. But really, bread sauce? From which dusty old tome of medieval cookery didst thou shaketh thine recipe, pray tell? Or was it handed down by generations, all the way back to pre-written time, when the printing press was but a glimmer in Gutenberg’s eye and “clove” was the only available flavour?

We jest – sort of. Bread sauce holds its place at the Christmas table like a history book about pre-modern warfare holds its place on your grandfather’s shelf, long after new scholarship has rendered it obsolete. But gosh, get the old codger talking about it and he’ll go on enthusiastically for most of the meal. You have to respect it – or, at the very least, find it endearing. No?


Cheese plate


Disagree with our Christmas dinner experts? Email and let us know.

Image: Alexandra Francis / Penguin

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