When it comes to season’s reading, we want it fluffy, we want it sickeningly sentimental and we want it to make us feel positively merry and bright.
For the record, that’s no mention of pandemics, problematic relationships, murders or visceral dread. Give us comforting plots, twee characters, Yuletide reflection and blissfully unrealistic romances.
Grab a mince pie and a mulled wine, here’s a holly jolly round-up of festive stories to tuck into over the holiday season.
1. Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
You may have already binged the new Netflix original series but if you haven’t, definitely read this collaborative novel first.
Set during the Christmas season in New York, this light-hearted novel tells the story of two book nerds, Dash & Lily. Lily leaves a red notebook full of challenges on her favourite book shop shelf and, as serendipity would have it, Dash is the first guy to discover it. They pass the red moleskin between them consisting of dreams, desires and dares for the other one to do, but will their in-person selves connect as well as their notebook versions?
2. Finding Love At The Christmas Market – Jo Thomas
Kicking off the must-read festive canon with this hug of a book and our very own book club pick for this month. We’ll be living vicariously through Jo Thomas’s sparkling imagination and hoping we can tuck into a gigantic Bratwurst at a bustling Christmas market in 2021. Not a euphemism, you filthy animals.
3. Christmas Stories – Everyman’s Library Pocket Classics
Perfect for those nights you want to dip in and out of your reading in-between nap-taking and present-wrapping, this collection of classic short stories is imbued with Christmas spirit and fanciful flights of the imagination.
4. Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
A companion novel based on the man who created the most famous Christmas story ever written. This festive imagining explores the conception of A Christmas Carol, as Dickens goes on a Scrooge-like journey through Christmases past and present to get some much-needed inspiration for his now-legendary moral fable.
5. Seven Days Of Us – Francesca Hornak
Fans of Love Actually and The Family Stone will LOVE this warm, life-affirming tale.
It’s the holiday season and the Birch family are forced to spend a week in quarantine together after the eldest daughter, Olivia, returns home from treating an epidemic abroad. Locked down and forced into one another’s immediate orbits, not much can stay hidden for long.
We know we said no mention of ‘P’ who should not be named but this one seemed too good to miss.
6. A Maigret Christmas: And Other Stories – Georges Simenon, David Coward
From the celebrated creator of Inspector Maigret, comes a short and sweet selection of heart-tugging seasonal stories, all set in Paris at Christmas. At 224 pages, it’s crying out to be stuffed into a stocking this December.
7. The Snow Ball – Brigid Brophy, Eley Williams
Who knows if we’ll be allowed to ring in the New Year in the old boozer together, garbling the words to Auld Lange Syne through passionate beer burps, but at least we have a bookish invitation to this 18th century costume Snow Ball. Glitter, scandal and utterly seductive prose – no lockdown caveat needed.
Dress code – your best pjs, venue – the grand sofa. This could catch on! New Year’s Eve escapism at its fictional finest!
8. A Treasury Of African American Christmas Stories – Bettye Collier-Thomas
Written between 1880 and 1953, this landmark collection of historical works written by African-American journalists, activists and visionaries will inspire and educate you. An important and strikingly current piece of the Christmas canon that celebrates the black storytelling tradition that flourished after the civil war.
9. The Twelve Dates of Christmas – Jenny Bayliss
Twelve festive dates with the area’s most eligible men? So, this is Christmas! Will we forget where we are and violently shake our head at the protagonist if she has non-socially distanced sexual intercourse, yes, yes, we will.
10. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – Jessica Redland
At this point, we’d like to personally congratulate Jessica Redland for coming up with the most comforting Hallmark-esque book title ever. Parlour games are over folks, Jess wins at Christmas.
Reading Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is as wholesome as it sounds. So, grab a brew and a blanket and unwrap this literary gift, page by page.
11. One Day In December – Josie Silver
A whirlwind meet-cute through a misted-up bus window one snowy December is just what we need to be reading about this Yuletide. Petition to make it a Netflix rom-com asap!
12. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Christmas won’t be Christmas without the March sisters. Curl up fireside with one of the most endearing classics every written.
13. A Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig
Magical for all ages, Matt Haig’s Christmas story revives the spirit of the season with a sleigh-load of humour & festive wonder.