Short Dark Reads: Stories for the Winter Solstice

As the northern hemisphere slips farther from the sun, the shortest, darkest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice, approaches. Observed on December 21, solstice celebrations, including the pagan celebration of Yule, predate Christmas, and are still celebrated by many cultures and religions. Amid the pervasive chill and frost patterns on the window, a ghost or two wouldn't be out of place. Let's set the scene with some dark short stories.

Had your fill of holiday shopping? In the title story of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black, a crowd of zombified Black Friday shoppers harass the sales associates at a big box store, who must resort to increasingly desperate measures to keep the shoppers at bay.

Author Jeanette Winterson puts the spirit into the season with Christmas Days. The collection includes a history of different cultural holiday traditions and, in keeping with Winterson's love of ghost stories, a few spooky tales.

For the Victorian ghost story aficionado, Haunted Looking Glass is a collection of Edward Gorey's favorite ghost stories, illustrated by Gorey.

When flashing lights festooned in every window and medleys of carols get to be too much, David Sedaris' classic Holidays on Ice provides relief. Sedaris' Santaland Diaries, first published in 1999, remains an essential meditation on the uniquely American commercialization of the holidays. 

Happy Solstice!