Holiday Reading

I love tailoring my reading to the season, especially in December. There are so many unique and lovely holiday books that are perfect to read this time of year. I’ve listed some of my favorites below. Let me know your favorite holiday books in the comments!

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Historical Fiction

I love reading books about how people in the past celebrated the holidays. It adds a sense of camaraderie and humanity to people from history when you hear about their holiday traditions. No matter the time period, every person wants to be among their loved ones during this season. 

Two of my favorites, Mr. Dickens and his Carol and Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini, are historical fiction retellings of how two of the best-known Christmas writings came to be, Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, and Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” poem. They both give historical context for these sentimental favorites, and Chiaverini’s book, in particular, contains many historical details from the time period in which Longfellow was writing – the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Not only was the country being torn apart, Longfellow’s own family suffered great tragedy with the death of his wife and the service of his son. It’s a memorable read, how someone who was in such pain could write such a hopeful poem. 

During times of war, it’s hard to celebrate Christmas. However, in Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor’s epistolary novel, Last Christmas in Paris, you read the hopeful and poignant letters between a British woman and the soldier she grows to love during World War I. I absolutely loved it!

While not technically a Christmas book, Patti Callahan’s Once Upon a Wardrobe takes place during a snowy December in Oxford, England and is so atmospheric. While it deals with a sad topic, a child with a terminal illness, it is uplifting and sweet. Plus it will make you want to plan a Christmas trip to England!

Books about WWII aren’t the first to come to mind when thinking of heartfelt books about Christmas. That’s what makes Lee Smith’s epistolary novella, The Christmas Letters, so unique. Told in the form of the ubiquitous Christmas letters we all receive from well-meaning friends, this sweet book describes the lives of three generations of women, from a harried young wife living with her in-laws while her husband fights in WWII to a modern-day divorced mom trying to find her way back to happiness. It is a short read but one that leaves an impact!

On my TBR for this Christmas is ‘Twas the Night Before Tudor Christmas, with great details from the Tudor time period and complete with lots of fun activities. It would make a great read before a holiday visit to Richmond’s Agecroft Hall!


Historical Romances

There are so many holiday historical romances available. I think it’s because it is fun to write about holiday traditions of the past in a light yet poignant way. I’ve read several over the years, including the novellas A Holiday by Gaslight (currently free on Kindle!) and An Ivy Hill Christmas. I love the sweet glimpses into Christmases past with abundant mistletoe and sleigh rides! 


Holiday Contemporary Romances/Women’s Fiction

Contemporary books set during the holidays have become very popular! They are fun and easy to read at a time of year when we are so busy. I’ve broken my favorites down into sub-categories to help your decision-making!

Sweet reads:

On the Way to Christmas: Three Stories by Sheila Roberts, Melissa Ferguson, and Amy Clipston came to my attention because I absolutely loved Ferguson’s sweet romance, Meet Me in the Margins. This book consists of three independent stories that will all warm your heart! And now I especially want to take a trip on a Christmas train like in Ferguson’s story!

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox is a Hallmark movie with more depth in book form. Twins switch places to find their true calling and love. It was adorable!

I really enjoyed Jenny Bayliss’ book, A Season for Second Chances, last year, especially with a “more mature” protagonist. I am excited to read her latest, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, this year.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life, so I had to read Camille Pagán’s Christmas novella, It’s a Wonderful Wife. It was short and sweet!

Time slip reads:

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren is a fun “Groundhog Day” type of book that I always love. Add in a love story with an old family friend, and I was sold! I’m looking forward to reading another Groundhog Day Christmas novel, The Christmas Wish, this month!

Heartfelt (and sad!) reads: 

Always, in December and One Last Gift by Emily Stone are heart-wrenching stories set in England during December. Have tissues close by as you read these poignant stories about love and loss!

Some contemporary books on my TBR for this month include: Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey, The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan, All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox, and Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo.


Holiday Classics

There are many classics that are holiday-related or associated with the season. I try to pick one a year to read! This year, I plan to reread The Gift of the Magi, one of my favorites from childhood. I especially remember the Disney television version with Mickey and Minnie! 

I also love these little collections containing Christmas tales from some of our favorite authors.


Winter Books

There are many books that are winter-related and would also be perfect reads for this time of year. Check out my favorites!


Holiday Books for Kids

Don’t forget about some of these great books for kids at this time of year. It’s hard to compete with the plethora of Christmas and holiday books for kids but these focused on historical events are unique. 

I also love these Christmas books in one of my favorite kids’ series.

Also don’t forget about the special edition Christmas books for kids featuring favorite classics!


All of these books will help you get into the holiday spirit. Which ones are you planning to read this month?

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