Right now I am re-reading an old copy of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I remember that when this book first came out, I was too young for it. Although I recognized its mysterious wisdom and exquisite writing style (and therefore kept it on hand as a gift to my older self, as I did with a collection of Alice Munro's short stories--thank you, self-aware juvenile self!), I found it unrelatable, incomprehensible, and therefore boring at the time. I don't believe I even finished it. Reading it now feels like Jesus is holding my hand, and I'm not Christian. It's an anguished, dumbfounding, yet deeply peaceful gaze into the eternity of unanswerable questions, sort of like almost any one of Louise Erdrich's many novels but in a minor key. It silences my overthinking while opening my heart. It is a profound volume full of transcendent pain, but it is gentle.
The novel I myself have created and sent out into the world is neither. I would describe it as much more "fun" and less gentle, sometimes brutal, but with an arc of redemption. I am not sure I would go so far as to call its ending "happy" in a Hallmark Christmas movie sense, but it is bloody ecstatic.
Whatever sort of fiction does it for you, read some this holiday season. Whether it's old books or new books, long books or short books, dark thrillers or romance, indulge in it. Let it move you. Take a break from binging on TV and stretch your brain and heart over the curve of an engrossing character arc. The practice will relieve stress and serve your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Shamelessly, I must conclude this post by pointing out that if what you're into is a wild saga of morally complex criminals murdering their way down the Danube River about one millennium ago, there aren't many options, but there is a good one. Help yourself to a free sample of Leirah and the Wild Man if you like, and then choose your own adventure.