As I have previously mentioned in my article about Halloween book recommendations, I tend to read books according to the current season so in the wintertime I will find myself reading books like Anna Karenina or War and Peace (I still haven’t read the latter but have recently heard that it’s a great book to read when it’s cold outside).
Today I am going to recommend you five books that I’ve enjoyed through the years that are perfect for Christmas time. I am currently rereading one of the books included in the list, a novel that is not entirely set during Christmas but it evokes deep feelings of tenderness; I first read it when I was ten years old and it holds a special place in my heart.
Here below you will find my top five books to read around Christmas, in no particular order:
1) Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle: I am a fan of John Green’s books, as I have read three of his YA novels and enjoyed them all (I still cry when I think about Looking for Alaska). Let It Snow is a series of interconnected tales written by three authors from which the magic of the holidays shines through. You will probably have a preference for one of the stories over another (my favorite remains “Jubilee Express”, the one written by Maureen Johnson), but they all have such a great Christmas atmosphere, since the events also take place during a snowstorm. The short stories in this anthology are all connected by a thread so you recognize the characters as you read on. The book has lots of sweet moments and it even made me laugh at some points. There is also a Netflix film adaptation available which is not bad; I have noticed that it seems to be a love-it-or-hate it kind of book, but if you are in the mood for a light Christmas read you will probably enjoy it.
2) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: this is one of the most famous Christmas stories which has been adapted for the screen multiple times (there is also a Mickey Mouse version that I saw when I was little and another one starring the Muppets). Ebenezer Scrooge is a very grumpy and stingy man who resents the Christmas season, but suddenly he is visited by three spirits who advise him to change his attitude before it is too late. It is a classic story which is known worldwide and it is rich in symbolism; it really makes the reader understand how it’s never too late to change their ways. It is very profound and I always like to revisit it during the holiday season because it conveys the true meaning of Christmas, something that we all need to be reminded of in an era of excessive consumerism; many parts of the story underline how money cannot really buy happiness, and this is perfectly clear when you look at the character of Mr Scrooge, who is actually an unhappy person that refuses to take part in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas. A Christmas Carol is a deeply known and appreciated tale which is almost a personification of Christmas itself.
3) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: as I am writing this article, I am rereading Little Women because it is one of my favorite books that take place in the winter time, as it starts during the Christmas holidays; the four March sisters live with their mother in Massachusetts while their father is fighting the American Civil War so they are afraid they won’t get any presents for Christmas. This is the beginning of the novel and although it isn’t entirely set in the wintertime, it is a cozy read that does a wonderful job evoking true values like family, truth, kindness and altruism which are representative of what Christmas should be. I have read Little Women plenty of times over the years and it has always been a great comfort to me, especially during tough moments, because it is so heartwarming and delightful. Many of you will probably know about this book and may have already read it because it is a landmark of American literature, as it embodies traditional American values like forgiveness, resilience and industriousness. The novel has been adapted for the screen numerous times and I have enjoyed many of its adaptations (especially the last one directed by Greta Gerwig) so if you choose to read Little Women I suggest you watch some of its brilliant adaptations as well.
4) Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: a YA romance novel set in New York City during Christmas time. What more could you ask for? The book focuses on the characters of Lily and Dash; she has left a notebook full of challenges on a shelf at the Strand Bookstore (which is one of my favorite places in NYC, so it was great to see it included in the book) and Dash happens to find her notebook. The two of them learn to know each other by writing in this notebook and sharing many thoughts so as you read on you will ask yourself whether they can connect with each other in real life as well. It is an amazing novel whose chapters alternate between Lily’s POV to Dash’s POV and you really notice the differences between these characters (probably because the book was co-written by two authors). There are also plenty of secondary characters that add a lot to the story and contribute to the construction of the narrative; it is a perfect book for Christmas time because it is cute and romantic in the best possible way. The book also has a sequel which was published six years later and I have to admit I liked it less than the first one but it’s nonetheless an enjoyable read as well. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was adapted into a great Netflix miniseries that I really loved and would also like to rewatch!
5) Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: the latest book in the Shopaholic series, which I started reading when I was fourteen and it is one of my all-time favorite book series. I have picked this book up to read during the holiday season because it is set around Christmas time and recounts the adventures of Becky Bloomwood (now Brandon), who loves shopping and doesn’t really know when to stop. I expect to enjoy it as much as I did the other books in the series because these books are full of hilarious moments and the protagonist is now like an old friend to me; I feel like I grew up with her and even though she usually gets into a lot of trouble I often find her brilliant and inspiring because she is willing to do good but she’s always tempted to buy stuff! As it happens with every series, some of the books are better than others but I have loved every single one of them and I also plan to reread the entire series in the future. The first book was adapted into a movie in 2009 but I am convinced that the whole series should become a TV show because it would be very fun to watch!
BONUS TITLE N0S4A2 by Joe Hill: this is for people who prefer to read thriller / horror books around Christmas. It is a suspense novel written by NYT Bestseller author Joe Hill, who is also Stephen King’s son. Victoria McQueen, the main character, has a great talent for finding missing things and when she crosses a bridge in her Massachusetts town while riding her bike she is able to go wherever she needs to. Charles Marx is a man who enjoys to take children for a ride in his 1938 Rolls-Royce, which can exit the normal world and reach a terrifying playground of amusements called “Christmasland”. Victoria managed to escape Charles when she was still a child, but now that she is all grown up, he is still looking for her…and her son.
I read this book about eight years ago on a train ride from Rome to Milan during the holiday season and found it excellently written. It is quite creepy at times but it is also a great book that in a way plays with our innermost fears and makes the Christmas atmosphere a little disturbing (when Charles Marx is around, he is accompanied by Christmas music). Reading the book, I found that hearing Christmas songs in July could be really creepy so I suggest you pick N0S4A2 up if you are in the mood for suspenseful horror /thriller novels. The book was adapted into a TV show which aired on AMC in the US (I saw it on Prime Video) and was pretty good too, even though it is a bit different from the original material it is based on.
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