The PopCult Bookshelf

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture
by Mark Voger
TwoMorrows Publishing
ISBN-13 : 978-1605490977
$43.95 (discounted at Amazon)

Before we dive into this review, a little explanation is in order. I had planned to include this book in last year’s PopCult Gift Guide. Unfortunately, the pandemic played hell with everybody’s printing and shipping schedules, and because of this there was a good chance that the book would not make its publication date and be out in time for my readers to order until after Christmas.

With last year’s situation making the PopCult Gift Guide largely a collection of things you could order and have delivered to your home, I had to make the decision to bump this book from the list.

Sure enough, it was February before I got my copy, which had to filter down to me through Diamond Distributors and Westfield Comics. I didn’t get a chance to crack this book open until last week, and when I did I was a little bit surprised.

I think I enjoyed this collection of essays on Christmas and its context in pop culture more now that I would have back when the Christmas season was in full swing. Holly Jolly puts you right in the Christmas spirit no matter what time of the year you read it, and in fact, reading it outside of the traditional holiday season can give you a keener appreciation of how special that time of the year is.

Mark Voger has written a series of wonderful books of pop culture nostalgia for TwoMorrows and Holly Jolly is no different. It’s basically a collection of short, entertaining essays, lavishly illustrated, that celebrate Christmas as a pop culture phenomenon. Sections of the book are dedicated to the history of the holiday, the toys of Christmas, the books, movies, decorations, television and music of Christmas and even holiday memories from celebrities.

Holly Jolly is a brisk, enjoyable survey of fond recollections that doesn’t have to be devoured in one sitting. This is going to punch the nostalgia buttons of readers of a certain age (like yours truly) more than others, but the experiences are universal enough that anyone who grew up enjoying Christmas can identify.

Reading it out from under the pressure of the Christmas rush takes away the distraction of the season and lets you just enjoy the sheer joy of this book. It is indeed a celebration of Christmas as seen through the kaleidoscope of pop culture.

Voger touches on everything from Captain Action to Gumby to “I Love Lucy,” to classic animated Christmas specials to hit holiday songs to beloved movies.

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture is a nice blast of Christmas spirit, and it’s really too much fun to hold off and read only during the holiday season. You should be able to order it from any bookseller using the ISBN code, or get it directly from the publisher, or at a discount, from Amazon.