Do you know what the best companion is on those lazy post-feast Christmas days? A book!
Water and plenty of leftovers might be your go-to, but picking up a good book and immersing yourself in a sweet Christmas story will have you forgetting about that extra glass of eggnog or the one too many pieces of Christmas pudding you had.
When people think of Christmas books their minds instantly wander to classic tales for children like The Night Before Christmas or Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Fact is, there are actually so many Christmas books out there for adults, from steamy romance novels to murder mysteries. So, your seasonal literary library doesn’t just have to involve the traditional stories read to children on Christmas Eve, but can include so many books, all of which embody the Christmas spirit in one way or another.
Considering everyone watches Christmas movies, listens to Christmas carols and eats traditional Christmas food, it only makes sense for your book choice to follow suit and fit in with the holidays theme. And as someone who has been building a list of Christmas books to read over the holidays all year (and for years before that), I’ve curated some of the best Christmas books to read these holidays.
So, as work quietens down or finishes up, the kids are well-occupied with presents, and everyone is craving some relaxation time, try picking up one of these festive books to read. Or if you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas, these captivating Christmas books won’t disappoint, either.
Here are a few of my favourite Christmas books I’ve read over the years, or have on my list to read these holidays!
One Day in December
I didn’t get a chance to read One Day in December at Christmas last year, so it was one of my top Christmas books to read these holidays.
It’s so easy to quickly fall in love with the characters as you follow their stories over a 10 year period. It doesn’t fall into the ‘love at first sight’ trope, which I was somewhat expecting and so glad it didn’t, but is instead a reminder that fate works in strange ways and everything isn’t so simple when you love someone.
The Christmas aspect of the book is subtle, considering it follows the characters throughout the years, but is enough to still capture the Christmas spirit and get you in a festive mood. For any fellow Australians currently living in the hot temperatures of summer, it’s also a nice escape to read about snow-covered London and gets you dreaming of a white Christmas.
This addictive read is perfect for anyone who loves a good romance story, but at the same time it isn’t your typical love story and also tackles topics like grief, marriage issues and setting New Year’s resolutions, so it can apply to a wide readership. You will probably have this charming novel finished before Christmas is even over!
Purchase a copy of One Day In December here.
While I have only just started reading Royal Holiday, Jasmine Guillory is one of my favourite authors so I already knew this book would be a great Christmas read, if it was anything like her other novels.
I discovered her debut novel The Wedding Date this year, and Royal Holiday which was published in October 2019 is already her fourth novel. Impressive, right? What’s just as impressive is her refreshing writing, particularly in the romance genre, as it is much more inclusive and representative of what couples look like in modern society.
This particular novel follows Vivian Forest who tags along on her daughter’s work trip to England over Christmas, as she goes to style a royal family member. Vivian is instantly struck by the Queen’s private secretary and it soon turns into quite the romance.
What I love so far about this novel is that Vivian is a 50-year-old black woman, aka: not your typical protagonist in a romance novel. Guillory herself said that her main character was inspired by Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, as well as her own mother.
This Christmas book is perfect for romance lovers who want a splash of realism in a storyline as well as more relatable characters.
Purchase a copy of Royal Holiday here.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott may have been published in the 1860s but it still remains one of the most beloved novels of all time.
The classic feminist novel follows the March girls, each uniquely different, as they navigate Civil War New England with their mother. It reflects the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom, which has resonated with generations of readers.
I always find myself wanting to re-read Little Women over the holidays, particularly since the novel begins and ends with Christmas. Their Christmas celebrations are a unique insight into what the holidays were like in 1860s America during the Civil War.
It’s also a good reminder that the festive season hasn’t always been characterised by being bombarded with consumerist messages and over-commercialisation – things that these days can be really detrimental to Christmas and even lead to things like holiday depression.
If you’re a lover of classic novels, or are just looking for a heart-warming story around Christmas, then Little Women is your pick. Not only is it an uplifting read, but it might also inspire you to focus on what Christmas was all about for the March girls: gathering family and friends, enjoying simple rituals like eating and singing together, and spreading the cheer through your own generosity by giving back to those who need it most.
Purchase a copy of Little Women here.
Last Christmas is a soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas.
It’s written in a plethora of voices, from actors to charity workers to refugees, all sharing their memories of past Christmases and their hopes for future ones. You will recognise some famous voices in there, including Meryl Streep, Emilia Clarke, Bill Bailey, Olivia Colman and more.
The personal stories have been curated by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson, who introduce the book and remind you of the importance of kindness and generosity at Christmas time. It’s the perfect book to gift to a loved one if you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift.
This festive gem of a novel is an easy and eye-opening holiday read, and will probably have you questioning what has made your own past Christmases magical and how we could all change for the better at this time of year.
Purchase a copy of Last Christmas here.
We Met in December
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis is next on my to-read list, as I’ve been saving it as one of my festive reads for the holidays.
It follows the year in the life of a 20-something-year-old British woman, Jess, who falls hard for her London flatmate after moving to Notting Hill. It promises to capture the magic of Christmas and is another heartwarming festive romance because you can never read enough of those over the holidays!
And while I haven’t read it yet myself, the reviews already have me anticipating the perfect feel-good read for Christmas. Plus, it’s Curtis’ debut novel, so I’m excited to read something from a new author.
This novel will suit anyone looking for a light-hearted read, with some warm humour and a romance that will steal your heart.
Purchase a copy of We Met in December here.
25 Days ’til Christmas
Poppy Alexander’s novel 25 Days ‘Til Christmas is another one of those feel-good Christmas books, but it also surprisingly covers a lot of important issues.
This sweet novel is about a single mother who is having a hard time during the holiday season and needs to find some inspiration in the 25 days leading up to Christmas to help her get in the festive spirit. You can see the characters evolve in the countdown to Christmas, dealing with particularly complex issues.
While it’s a sweet romantic story, it doesn’t just focus on the romance. It sheds light on tough issues like loneliness, depression, death, suicide and learning disorders, and how these can have a massive impact on people over the holidays. It’s certainly not your typical light and fluffy festive romance and will probably have you quite emotional and heartbroken at times (as it did with me).
This book is great for readers who don’t want to read a typical romance plot because even though it’s ultimately a feel-good novel in the end, it’s certainly a journey to get there!
Purchase a copy of 25 Days ’til Christmas here.
TELL US: What is your favourite Christmas book to read over the holidays? Share your recommendation in the comments section below.
This article was originally published on A Girl In Progress.