With November comes rain and wind in the Pacific Northwest. The leaves turn colors and thoughts turn to planning for the holidays. One of the most fun things I do in order to get myself and my attitude ready for the Christmas season is to begin reading Christmas-themed fiction books. One of the questions I get asked quite frequently at this time of year is “What are some feel-good, cozy Christmas books to read? Not for my kids–but for me!” I have compiled a list of the holiday books I have really enjoyed reading while snuggled up under a blanket and drinking a mug of good tea (may I suggest MarketSpice Orange Cinnamon?)
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I know I said not for kids, but I consider this book a universal favorite for adults and kids alike. This was a read-aloud favorite in my family for many years, and if I can make everyone sit still long enough I will do it again. It’s the precious, hilarious story of a ragtag family of kids who invade a local church Christmas pageant (because they get snacks) and end up learning what Christmas is all about. It’s sweet, funny, and a superb story.
An Endless Christmas and Restoring Christmas, both by Cynthia Ruchti
An Endless Christmas is set in during a snowed-in family Christmas. The whole family gathers at grandma and grandpa’s house for Christmas, and this year, their grandson Micah asks his girlfriend Katie to marry him–and she says NO! Although it is a somewhat comical book at times, it is also a gentle lesson about perfection and the fact that joy comes from trusting in Jesus, who is perfect.
Restoring Christmas is for fans of home improvement and home makeover shows on HGTV. Alexis is a designer who is pinning her career hopes on a television show called Restoring Christmas. But things just aren’t working out as she envisioned–the award-winning videographer has sent his son as a replacement, and the homeowner has completely opposing views as to how she wants things done. It’s a story of restoring Christmas in practical, spiritual, and soul-restoring ways.
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
This is a true favorite story of mine that I have re-read so many times. Flagg is a superior writer, I have read everything she has written and it always has such heart. This is the story of Oswald T. Campbell, who has been given a terminal diagnosis from his doctor. He goes to spend his last Christmas in Lost River, where he meets an eclectic group of people and a very special bird named Jack. Sounds sappy, but it is such an amazing, touching story.
The Christmas Bus and The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson
These are two sweet stories that left me with a smile on my face and in my heart. The Christmas Bus is set in Christmas Valley, a town that does Christmas to the hilt. But this year, things are going wrong, including a young couple with a baby due any minute driving up into town in their wildly decorated bus. And there’s no room at the Shepherd’s Inn. The Christmas Joy Ride follows 85-year old Joy, who is in declining health and decides to drive her RV down Route 66 in order to move closer to her children. Her neighbor Miranda is at a crossroads in her life and agrees to accompany Joy, who wants to stop along the way to bless others. Both of these tales are great reminders of what it means to be hospitable, giving, and accepting.
Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh
This is the story of Rick, who returns home to help his mother after his stepfather suffers a stroke. While he is home, he talks with a number of their friends whose memories of the past and the glowing stories of his parents don’t really match what Rick remembers. He’s forced to re-think and re-evaluate the past and look at things with fresh eyes. It is also so very heartwarming as a reader to think about small acts of kindness that touch the lives of others.
The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne
I first read this book when it came out in 2006, but it has been freshened up and re-released this year and I could not be happier! It is one of my all time fondly remembered books, and I’m so glad that others will be introduced to this fantastic story, I hope they will be as enchanted as I continue to be. Molar (Mo) and his brother Aaron have kind of stopped believing in Santa, and when they fill out their wish lists, the Santa at the mall tells them they won’t be getting anything they asked for, but they will get everything they wanted. They are obviously confused, but Santa is being played by Dr. Chris Ringle, a pediatric oncologist who enlists Mo and Aaron to help him bring joy to the children on the cancer ward at the hospital. Each boy has an assignment, and the people they come into contact with change all of their lives. It’s a story of the true meaning of giving, receiving, and what Christmas is all about.
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
I first listened to this book on audio and loved the way it immersed me in the cross country train ride. I can still, even many years later, hear the sounds of the train and the narrator’s voice. I have also had the opportunity to read the book (and now you can also watch it as a movie on the Hallmark Channel this year!) and it still retains the same joy and magic (and has convinced me that I would really like to try long distance train travel someday). It’s the story of Tom, a journalist who has to travel from D.C. to LA in time for Christmas and his only mode of transportation is the train. He meets many interesting people–both passengers and railroad employees, who all have stories to tell. He reconnects with his former love and there’s also some trouble and a tiny bit of intrigue. Just a solidly good book.
The Gift by Cecelia Ahern
I know I can’t keep saying “Oh, this one is my favorite” because this is, after all, a list of my favorites. Yet, this book has a special place in my heart. It’s the story of Lou, who is a very busy, very important executive. He doesn’t have time to do much of anything, but does stop one day and talk to a homeless man named Gabe. Lou offers Gabe a job in the company mail room, and is puzzled when Gabe seems to be in more than one place at once (which Lou wishes he could do). There’s a touch of magical realism that is definitely Ahern’s style, and this tale just speaks to my heart in all the right places.
A December Bride by Denise Hunter
This cute novella has been made into a Hallmark movie also, and both are very enjoyable romance stories, because what’s a good Christmas story without a bit of love? This is the tale of Seth and Layla, who pretend to be engaged so that Layla can get a job with a high-powered client. The problem is–Seth has been in love with Layla for a long time, and he is going to do what he has to in order to win her heart.
Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday themed books? Tell me in the comments so I can add them to my reading list!