The holidays are a great time to catch up on reading, ideally with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. (If you’ve never made real hot chocolate — i.e. hot chocolate made from blended/whisked milk and melted chocolate, not just cocoa mix — it’s worth doing at least once! Do it as a treat for your favorite chocolate lover!)
Here’s are some of the best reads from a range of genres to get you in the holiday spirit!
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie. There’s still no equal to Agatha Christie when it comes to elegantly-crafted, quick mysteries, in my opinion. Cuddle up with Hercule Poirot, her Belgian detective-slash-protagonist this Christmas.
If you like mysteries, this one is a sure win. Alternatively, you could also check out her other Christmas-themed book, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. It’s a collection of short stories featuring both Poirot and Miss Marple (another detective of hers).
The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories by mystery author P.D. James. For some more classic crime mysteries, this time in short story form.
P.D. James’s slim (240 pages) four short story collection is great for people who prefer their holiday mysteries to be short and sweet. Stylistically, P.D. James is generally compared to Agatha Christie if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore. This was one of his earlier books, and it holds up. Christopher Moore is known for his quirky humor, and The Stupidest Angel is Moore at his best.
An angel comes to earth to grant a small boy’s wish. The boy has witness a man dressed up as Santa be killed, and he hopes Santa will come back. Hijinks and Christmas Zombies ensue.
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. Sedaris is an essayist with writes with self-deprecating humor and sardonic but cheerful wit. Holidays on Ice is a solid essay collection, even if it’s not the most popular of his works (for that, try Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim or Naked instead).
I’d highly recommend checking out the audiobook version (free with Audible trial). He’s a fantastic narrator — I’ve heard him in person as well, if you ever get the chance, it was a real treat!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. While Little Women isn’t about Christmas per se, much of it takes place in the winter and involves some Christmas festivities.
Plus, if you’ve never read it, it’s a great time to do so, especially since there’s a new star-studded Little Women movie coming out next year (starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan and Meryl Streep, with Greta Gerwig directing).
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. Hogfather is part of Terry Practchett’s Discworld fantasy series, so if you’ve ever been curious about the series or are already a fan, this one’s for you. Hogfather features a St. Nicholas/Father Christmas-type character who has gone missing! Oh no! How will the kids get their presents?! Death tries to fill in instead, but you can imagine how that goes.
For some funny, fantasy holiday reading, Hogfather is probably your best bet.
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. For some YA-romance this holiday season, Let it Snow is a collection of three holiday-themed short romances by three well-known YA authors.
To be honest, I actually haven’t read this, but I know a lot of people love this book, and it seemed like this list could use some YA-romance to round it out. It all starts with a Christmas Eve snowstorm…
These don’t involve Christmas, but are chilly enough to get you into the winter spirit!
Blankets by Craig Thompson. This graphic novel tells an autobiographical coming-of-age story about a boy in the midwest. It’s a story about falling in love, about questioning your faith, and finding your voice. It’s a resonant and moving story, and a great book for those who don’t typically read graphic novels.
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. In this fantasy novel, New York City is besieged with artic winds and snow when a burglar breaks into a large mansion and comes across a dying girl. It’s a (somewhat long winded) love story, good for those chilly night!
It was also adapted into a movie with Collin Farrel but it sounds like that movie was a hot mess.
The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. The Winternight series is a fantasy series set in Medieval Russia, based in slavic folklore. It’s about a girl in a small town who discovers that she’s able to see fantastical, mythical creatures that others cannot.
I really liked the first book of the series. The last book in the series comes out January 2019.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Here’s another book for fans of folklore and fantasy. It’s a book based on the story Rumpelstiltskin, with a protagonist who has the power to turn silver into gold. She has to help the realm fight of the impending winters as the Realm of Ice’s frosty aura begins to encroach.
You can read my review here — I enjoyed it, it’s a fun and imaginative book.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is about an older couple in Alaska who build a child out of snow. It a story seeped in magical realism and based in a Russian fairytale. It’s chilly, bittersweet and magical — a perfect winter read!
Classic Christmas Stories
Penguin Christmas Classics 6-Volume Boxed Set. Finally, I’m just including this because I’m totally in love with this gorgeous set of hardback classics. I’m such a sucker for a nice book cover, especially one that comes in a set.
Is there anything that you’d add? The Snow Child is actually one I’d like to try to finish at some point in the next month or so. There’s a bunch of other stuff on my TBR as well, of course, but that one I picked up and forgot about and I’ve been meaning to finish it.
What will you be reading this holiday season? Happy holiday and happy reading, bookish people!