The holiday season is upon us, which means endless parties with family and friends, tons of delicious food, and mounds of piles of presents to wrap. Hopefully, amongst the busyness of the season, you are able to find some downtime to relax and enjoy, and perhaps even read a book (or two) for fun.
I’ve created a booklist of holiday stories, many are classics, some you can share with the young children in your life, and some you’ll want to keep just for yourself. Several of these stories began as movies, or have become movies, and I find it interesting to compare how the two relate or differ from one another. I’ve tried to include a variety of books for all interests and tastes, as the appeal is for a wide audience of readers. However, if you really enjoy a specific genre such as romances, or mysteries, or children’s picture books and want some holiday suggestions, let me know! I’ve also included links to Google Books so you can check out the books from your library or find out where to purchase them.
I hope you’ll find a new favorite in the list, rediscover an old or once loved story, and perhaps even begin making some new traditions this holiday season with a good book.
Holiday Reads for Book Lovers
The movie White Christmas is a classic holiday movie filled with song, dance, and 1950’s flair. Originally created as a song by Irving Berlin, and made famous by Bing Crosby in 1941, it has been the best known Christmas song in history. This picture book by Michael Hague called, White Christmas, uses beautifully drawn, and colorful renderings to depict the magic of snow that brings us a White Christmas. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to the movie as there is even sheet music of the song included so you can sing along.
The 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street depicts a classic holiday tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is also for many, the official start of the holiday season. This adaptation by Valentine Davies, who also wrote the original screenplay, includes stills from the movie. This particular edition of the book even won an award for Best Design from the American Institute of Graphic Artists.
The story for the more recent film called, Christmas with the Kranks, was taken from the original book called Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. In this novel, a couple decides to skip the craziness of the holiday season and take a vacation. However, when their daughter surprises them with a visit, the hilarity of the season takes off. A quick and casual read for those looking for a nice break.
A Christmas Story written by Jean Shepherd introduces the world to a little boy named Ralphie. Now in regular rotation around the holiday season, the 1983 movie brings to life this humorous tale from the point of view of a kid who just wants a BB gun for Christmas. Shepherd tells his autobiographical story with wit and charm and captures the essence of what it means to be a kid at Christmastime.
No matter which holiday you celebrate (or wish to forget), the book Scenes From a Holiday by Laurie Graff, Caren Lissner and Melanie Murray will bring some humor and delight to your days. Three stories by three different authors follow three different women along their journey to survive the holiday season.
Those looking for a story that will warm your heart, you’ll want to read the tearjerker called, The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere. It’s a story about a little boy in search of a gift for his dying mother and is the first in a series of books by VanLiere. This book will have you believing in not only miracles, but also the magic and goodness of people around you. This book was also made into a 2002 film, and adapted into a song in 2000.
Another story about hope and faith is the first in a series by Debbie Macomber named, Angels Everywhere. This book was also the inspiration for the TV series, Touched by an Angel. The story is about the adventures of three angels named Shirley, Goodness and Mercy as they make their way through New York City helping those whose hearts needs a little help.
Those looking for some mystery will want to read Decked by Carol Higgins Clark, which is also the first in the Regan Reilly Mystery series. Regan, a private detective, just wants to enjoy her class reunion, but ends up investigating her roommate’s murder. This novel is full of suspense and anticipation that has made this a bestselling series.
Classic enthusiasts will enjoy the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens published in 1843. Although retold in many forms, this is the original. There are many versions of the story including films, plays, and even graphic novels. This edition from Signet Classics takes on the novel in its original form and includes additional Christmas stories by Dickens.
Many people only think of The Nutcracker as a beautiful ballet to see around the Christmas season. Yet, it was originally a tale from 1816 written by E.T.A. Hoffman and again adapted in 1845 by Alexandre Dumas. It wasn’t until 1892 that the story became globally known when the Russian composer Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned the story into the famous ballet we know today. Even then, it wasn’t popular until the 1950’s in America. Rediscover the many lands visited by Clara (or Marie as she is originally written) and the magic of the story this season.
In my family, the holidays are always filled with traditions and celebration and so below this first list, I’ve included a few additional selections that I find to be favorites. Growing up in an Italian-American household meant we celebrated Christmas Eve with going to mass, placing baby Jesus in the manger crafted by my Papa, ate tons of fresh fish, and opened presents! The books I’ve chosen below represent a taste of what I most fondly love about the Christmas season. I’d love to hear your family traditions so please do share them in the comments!
In my family, food is one of the main topics of conversation. When we are eating breakfast, we are talking about dinner. Celebrations are no different, and always meant wonderful cookies and desserts! This cookbook, Mangia, Little Italy by Francesa Romina, is one of my favorites for hard-to-find recipes for Italian treats.
Strega Nona is one of my favorite characters in children’s literature and was created by the master writer and illustrator, Tomie dePaola. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona will not disappoint as he uses his hand-drawn and colorful illustrations to depict the story of Strega Nona, Bambolona and of course, Big Anthony preparing for the big Christmas celebration.
Living and growing up in Chicago meant we always visited Marshall Fields, especially to see the windows at Christmastime. This book from the Images of America series called, Christmas on State Street, has wonderful photos of this most beloved store including those great green clocks, the corner that you saw when approaching the store and so much more. While it doesn’t replace actually visiting, it brings back great memories.
Enjoy reading and have a very wonderful holiday season full of delight, magic and surprise!