It’s that time of year again! When better to dig into the best of your Christmas book collection and rediscover some festive classics?
‘Tis the season of giving, so why not treat yourself (or your loved ones) to some copies of the best Christmas books around? Whether you’re looking for a cozy romance or a festive thriller, or just an exciting novel to participate in your own Jolabokaflod, the best Christmas books come in all genres, forms, and sizes.
Filled with magic, warmth, and overall festive vibes, we’ve collected some of the best Christmas books that will definitely get you in the festive spirit!
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (1843)
A Christmas Carol is one of those books that you will see on every Christmas book list. It’s got an incredible legacy, having popularised the phrases “Merry Christmas,” and “Bah, Humbug,” as well as coining the name/term “Scrooge.” Following the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited London-based businessman who hates Christmas, A Christmas Carol explores the importance of selflessness, kindness, and love.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The Little Match Girl – Hans Christian Andersen (1845)
Every time I’ve read it, The Little Match Girl breaks my heart. At first glance, the short story seems quite simple: a poor girl stands in the freezing winter of New Year’s Eve, trying to sell matchsticks. But in fact, as you’ll find out later in the book, the fairytale emphasizes the cornerstones of the Christmas spirit: warmth, love, family, and kindness.
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON
A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories – Louisa May Alcott (1875)
A lovely compilation of festive short stories by the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories encompasses all the warm and fuzzy emotions that are at the heart of the Christmas season.
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND OTHER CHRISTMAS STORIES
LOUISA MAY ALCOT
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle – Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is a short story that’s been plucked from Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Following the eponymous detective, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle follows the theft of a priceless artifact in London, as the city prepares for Christmas.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE BLUE CARBUNCLE
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry (1905)
The Gift of the Magi follows the story of a young couple, Della and Jim Young, and their struggle to buy each other secret Christmas presents due to financial constraints. The climax is a well-known, yet moving plot twist; one that explores the importance of sentiment over material possessions when gift-giving.
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
Christmas Pudding – Nancy Mitford (1932)
Christmas Pudding could be considered an absurdly funny, modern version of a Jane Austen novel. Set in the 1930s and filled with love affairs, lavish country houses, and all things festive, the novel follows the lives of a series colourful characters as they celebrate Christmas in the English countryside.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie (1938)
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas follows the story of the Lee family’s reunion at Christmas, where the multi-millionaire patriarch Simoen Lee is unexpectedly found dead. A locked-room mystery, the novel details the inimitable Poirot’s detective work, as he races to find the killer.
HERCULE POIROTS CHRISTMAS
The Greatest Gift – Philip Van Doren Stern (1943)
Before the Oscar-winning film It Was a Wonderful Life, there was The Greatest Gift. Loosely based on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story follows George Pratt, a depressed, suicidal man who encounters a stranger that changes his life forever.
THE GREATEST GIFT
PHILIP VAN DOREN STERN
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Robert L. May (1944)
Another one of those Christmas books that really requires no introduction, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is synonymous with Yuletide festivities. Robert L. May originally created the character in 1939 — as a promotional gimmick for a department store — before it erupted in popularity and became a cultural, and Christmas, icon.
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER
ROBERT L MAY
A Christmas Memory – Truman Capote (1956)
Mostly autobiographical, Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory follows a seven-year-old narrator and his relationship with his distant cousin, an unnamed elderly woman. Exploring themes of loneliness, friendship, and the spirit of giving, A Christmas Memory has become a festive classic for many generations.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY
Letters from Father Christmas – J. R. R. Tolkien (1976)
A collection of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings) to his children over the span of 20 years, Letters from Father Christmas details the (mis)adventures of Father Christmas, his elvish secretary and his helpers, the North Polar Bear and his cubs, Paksu and Valkotukka.
LETTERS FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS
The Ice Harvest – Scott Phillips (1979)
Set on Christmas Eve in the ’70s, The Ice Harvest is a noir mystery novel that follows the life and crimes of Charlie Arglist. As he prepares to leave his small Kansas town with a stockpile of stolen cash, Charlie is forced to revisit the darkest places — and people — of his past.
THE ICE HARVEST
The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg (1985)
A classic Christmas book for young children and adults alike, The Polar Express follows the story of a young boy who boards the Polar Express on Christmas Eve and embarks on a journey to meet Santa Claus.
THE POLAR EXPRESS
CHRIS VAN ALLENBURG
Skipping Christmas – John Grisham (2001)
Skipping Christmas is a humorous take on the frenzy that surrounds the Christmas period. Detailing the life of Luther and Nora Krank, as well as their disillusionment with the usual Christmas routine, John Grisham’s novel wittily explores the role of family, tradition, and the Christmas spirit.
The Christmas Train – David Baldacci (2003)
The Christmas Train details the Christmas experience of Tom Langdon, a disillusioned journalist, who must get from Washington, D.C., to L.A. Forced to travel by train, the novel follows his journey of gripping adventure and holiday magic.
THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN
Celebrations, Rituals of Peace and Prayer – Maya Angelou (2006)
An inspiring collection of poems written by Maya Angelou, Celebrations, Rituals of Peace and Prayer, marks the poet’s celebration of several public and private events; the most festive of all being Amazing Peace, performed at the 2005 lighting of the National Christmas tree in Washington, DC.
About a boy – Nick Hornby (2014)
Will Feeman is single, child-free, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He’s also found a great way to score with women- attend single parents’ groups full of available (and grateful) mothers. Which is how Will meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. The two develop a strong bond, but can Will teach Marcus how to grow up cool? And can Marcus help Will just to grow up?
ABOUT A BOY
A Maigret Christmas – Georges Simenon (2018)
Newly translated by David Coward, A Maigret Christmas is comprised of three short stories set during Christmas in Paris. The first, A Maigret Christmas, involves the titular Maigret as he is led on a mysterious investigation, while the remaining stories paint a portrait of domestic life (with a splash of crime) during the festive season.
A MAIGRET CHRISTMAS
One Day in December – Josie Silver (2018)
An exploration of love, friendship, and fate that spans a decade, One Day in December tells the story of Josie and Jack. While they begin as two strangers who experience a magical moment during one day of December, the love story expands into a heartwarming, feel-good, and festive Christmas book.
ONE DAY IN DECEMBER
Twelve Nights – Urs Faes (2020)
Twelve Nights follows the story of Manfred, who walks alone through a snowy valley en route to his childhood home. As described by the publisher: “Twelve Nights transports us to the wintry depths of Europe’s Black Forest, through the stillness of the snow-covered hills, the dense woods, the cold and mist, in those dark, wild days between Christmas and Epiphany. These nights are a time of tradition and superstition, of tales told around the local innkeeper’s table of marauding spirits, as tangible as the ghosts of Manfred’s past.”
The Christmas Bookshop – Jenny Colgan (2021)
Set in a historic bookshop, The Christmas Bookshop is a heartwarming tale of family, friendships, and redemption. It follows the story of two estranged sisters, Sofia and Carmen, who are brought together during Christmas and are forced to reckon with the strength of the bonds that tie them together.
THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP