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  • Writer's pictureKara C White

Cozy Up with 15 Must-Read Books for the Holiday Season

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Give Yourself an Early Gift!


From romance to mystery to family dramas, something about the holidays proves to be an irresistible setting for authors. Here's a quick roundup of fun and light books to enjoy in between decorating, gift wrapping, and celebrating the season.



Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley [Romantic Comedy: 2023]

"Described as a multi-faith, holiday rom com. As strangers and seatmates Maryam Aziz and Anna Gibson fly to Toronto over the holidays-- Maryam to her sister’s impromptu wedding, and Anna to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy family for the first time-- neither expect that severe turbulence will scare them into confessing their deepest hopes and fears to one another. At least they’ll never see each other again. And the love of Maryam’s life, Saif, wasn’t sitting two rows behind them hearing it all. Oops. An emergency landing finds Anna, Saif, Maryam, and her sister’s entire bridal party snowbound at the quirky Snow Falls Inn in a picture-perfect town, where fate has Anna’s actor-crush filming a holiday romance. As Maryam finds the courage to open her heart to Saif, and Anna feels the magic of being snowbound with an unexpected new love—both women soon realize there’s no place they’d rather be for the holidays."

The Santa Suit: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews [Domestic Fiction: 2021]

"When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love―but Ivy didn't bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk. At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit― beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it's from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Ivy's quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love."


The Christmas Bookshop: A Novel by Jenny Colgan [Contemporary Fiction: 2021]

"Laid off from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal. Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. So Carmen moves in and takes the job. Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen? And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?"


You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince (Boy Meets Boy, 2) by Timothy Janovsky [LGBTQ Romance: 2022]

"While part of a series, this book stands alone. Matthew Prince is young, rich, and thoroughly spoiled. But after a major PR misstep, Matthew is cut off and shipped away to spend the holidays in his grandparents' charming small town hellscape. It's bad enough he's stuck in some festive winter wonderland―it's even worse that he has to share space with Hector Martinez, an obnoxiously attractive local who's unimpressed with anything and everything Matthew does. But even a Grinch can't resist the unexpected joy of found family, and in the end, the forced proximity and infectious holiday cheer might be enough to make a lonely Prince's heart grow three sizes this year."


Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva [Historical Fiction: 2017]

"A novel that reimagines the story behind the Christmas classic. Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, Dickens meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love."


Miracles and Menorahs: Friendships & Festivals #1 by Stacey Agdern [Romance: 2020]

"Sarah Goldman loves Hanukkah, and she’s thrilled to be appointed as vice chair of the Hollowville Hanukkah Festival. So when the festival is threatened with cancellation, she comes up with an idea: a new slogan and advertising campaign topped off with a metal menorah large enough to fill the center of town. But even though her heart and dreams are large, the committee’s budget constraints threaten to stop her grand plans right in their tracks. Famous metal sculptor Isaac Lieberman also loves Hanukkah. But his vision of a perfect Hanukkah isn’t a commercial community event—it’s spending time with family, following age-old traditions. He’s not interested in the festival, no matter how many times his grandmother asks him to contribute one of his sculptures. Then Sarah comes tumbling into his life…can she change his mind about more than just the holidays?"


Royal Holiday: The Wedding Date #4 by Jasmine Guillory [Romance: 2019]

"Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality. Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day... or are they?"


 

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Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie [Mystery: 1938]

"From the master of mystery, Agatha Christie, comes this holiday whodunnit. Christmas Eve, and the Lee family’s reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. When famous investigator Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man..."




Noelle the First: Holliday Sisters #1 by Nicole Falls [Romance: 2017]

"Despite sharing a birthday with the holiday, Christmas just wasn't Noelle's thing. As a kid she had been in love with the holiday, but adult Noelle just saw it as another day to get through. Jay has moved back home after a breakup and is looking to reconnect with his childhood bestie. Cooking up a scheme to get her in the holiday spirit with her sisters, he's determined to bring back the old Noelle. With a combination of nostalgia, Christmas magic and a little bit of mistletoe, Noelle the First is a tale of old friends finding their way back to each other and more."



In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren [Romance: 2020]

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe."


The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman [Contemporary Novella; 2017]

"It's Christmas Eve; a father and a son are seeing each other for the first time in years. The father tells his son about a courageous little girl with cancer lying in a hospital bed a few miles away. Now, on a cold winter’s night, the father has been given an unexpected chance to do something remarkable that could change the destiny of a little girl he hardly knows. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he must find out what his own life has actually been worth, and only his son can reveal that answer."



I Won't be Home for Christmas by Amanda Prowse [Romance: 2016]

"While her free-spirited daughter travels the world, Vivienne prepares for a lonely Christmas in Bristol, with her best friend Ellen and her ancient dog Bob. Then a letter arrives that changes everything. Vivienne's daughter is getting married in New Zealand, and she wants her mum and Ellen by her side. But out on the rugged coast of Tutukaka, the sea sparkles, romance beckons and Vivienne falls under the spell of another life. Will she leave everything she holds dear for a chance at happiness? Or will her daughter be the only one to fall in love this Christmas?"


An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List by Laurie Notaro [Humor: 2005]

"It’s the most wonderful– and most dreadful– season of the year, when boxes of truffles attack your thighs, drunken holiday revelers stay long past their welcome, and your grandmother has conniptions at the department store over the price of hand lotion. Welcome to Laurie Notaro’s Christmastime.

In ten brand-new stories and three previously published favorites, Notaro shares the sidesplitting daily disasters of the holidays."




The Troubadour's Tale: Oxford Medieval Mystery #5 by Ann Swinfen [Mystery: 2018]

"When Nicholas Elyot and his friends set out to spend the Christmas season in the country, they are prepared for a hard journey in winter weather. They are also wary of violence on the road, for these are troubled times after the Great Pestilence, when bands of dispossessed and desperate men roam the countryside of England. It is not surprising when the troubadours hired to provide entertainment at Leighton Manor are attacked in Wychwood. Yet why should this insignificant group draw the attention of outlaws, who are searching for something? Is one of the troubadours not quite what he seems?"



Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher [Domestic Fiction: 2000]

"In Winter Solstice Rosamunde Pilcher brings her readers into the lives of five very different people. It is the strange rippling effects of a tragedy that will bring these five characters together in a large, neglected estate house near the Scottish fishing town of Creagan. It is in this house, on the shortest day of the year, that the lives of these people will come together and be forever changed. Rosamunde Pilcher's long-awaited return to the page will warm the hearts of readers both old and new. Winter Solstice is a novel of love, loyalty and rebirth."



What are some of your favorite holiday reads? Let me know in the comments. Here's to a happy holiday season, and best wishes for further reading!


 

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