Aw man, I wish this book had been written when I was 12 years old, starting to realize I didn't believe in any sort of a god, and in love with anything British. It really would have made me feel a lot better. Although I was raised with no particular religion whatsoever, with a family who doesn't really care about other people's individual beliefs, I still felt like it was weird to be an atheist. With this book, full as it is of smart people, I would have felt much more comfortable.
As a collection, I thought it was a little bit hit-or-miss. With so many contributors, things are a little repetitive. There are some real gems in here, though. I especially liked "Beloved Buzzkill" by Allison Kilkenny and "Stay Away from My Goddamn Presents" by Jamie Kilstein, as well as Phil Plait's take on the Star of Bethlehem. There are some really nice takes on the Christmas mythology and history in here, such as one commentator's explanation that midwinter has historically been far from bleak, but rather a time for feasting and resting since no work can feasibly be done. Several commentators also remarked on their love of Christmas music, which made me feel better about having some of it on my playlist pretty much year-round.
Absolutely a good book, and its proceeds go to a good cause, too, Terrence Higgins Trust, which is a British charity involved with AIDS and HIV education and safe sex. (I actually feel kinda guilty about this, because I got a free copy of this book from Harper Perennial's mailing list.) Anyway, it was the perfect time of year to read this.