From Christmas Classics to Romance and Thriller: Our 25 Top Books for the Holidays

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Nuala McHugh
Nuala McHugh
As a huge book lover, I am passionate about sharing wonderful stories and recommendations. I have a degree in English and a Master's degree in PR and Marketing so I have lots of experience analyzing literature. I've also read a ton of books in my lifetime and am always interested in new finds. Having spent five years working in various PR agencies, I am now a freelance writer with a special love for books and travel.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

As December arrives, there’s no cozier pastime than settling by the fire with a steaming mug of cocoa (or a glass of red) and immersing yourself in a page-turning book.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic holiday tale, a festive romance, a snug crime story, or seeking the ideal gift for a fellow bookworm, we’ve got you covered.

Join us in the festive countdown to Christmas with our top 25 picks for the holiday season.

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A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Let’s kick it off with an all-time Christmas classic. We’ve probably all watched the movie or a play of some kind but have you read the original? Telling the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by a ghost of his former business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, A Christmas Carol is a must-read in the lead-up to Christmas.

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

This historical novella is a beautiful and heart-touching story about a father who confronts the truth of one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalen laundries. This is a Booker-Prize-nominated novel and is an unforgettable story of hope and heroism.

A December to Remember, by Jenny Bayliss

Bayliss’ novel is certainly one for the 2023 festive season. It centers on three half-sisters Maggie, Simone, and Star who are reunited following the death of their father. They discover he has left them a series of hoops to jump through to get the inheritance they all so desperately need.

This Christmas, by Emma Heatherington

Rose, who once loved Christmas, now can’t go back to her family home, and Charlie is facing his first Christmas alone. Both book the same rural cottage stay but unbeknownst to the other. Will they be able to enjoy what should have been a solitary Christmas? This is the perfect book to curl up by the fire with!

The Christmas Guest, by Peter Swanson

A murder mystery set at a cozy Christmas country estate? Yes, please. Ashley is an American studying in London who is invited to spend Christmas with her classmates’ family. It all seems like the dream Christmas, but things are not exactly what they seem, and some holiday horrors arise.

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

Yes, it is technically a children’s read, but who doesn’t enjoy a book filled with stunning illustrations and a relaxing storyline? This is a Christmas classic and the perfect read for Christmas Eve.

Harry Potter Series, by JK Rolling

The Harry Potter series is undoubtedly a Christmas favorite for many. Whether it’s your comfort read or your first time reading them, The Holiday season is the perfect time to tuck in.

The Late Americans, by Brandon Taylor

Set in a Midwest university town, The Late Americans explores the dilemmas of life’s priorities — work, love, money, dance, and poetry. It’s a novel about chosen family and friendships. Great as a gift for a reader or for you to get stuck into.

You Make It Feel Like Christmas, by Toni Shiloh

If you fancy a light romance, this one’s for you. It’s the most wonderful time of year for everyone except Starr Lewis. As if going home for the holidays single and jobless wasn’t already horrible, she’s dragged into a holiday season full of activities leading up to her sister’s wedding. But, a certain brother’s best friend may change things.

Heart Berries: A Memoir, by Terese Marie Mailhot

Memoir fans, look no further than this beautiful elegy for the author’s lost parents. It explores trauma, family, and a fresh perspective on memory and how much of it we can really trust. It’s not a light read, but it is an important one.

Dayswork, by Chris Bachelder and Jennifer Habel

In this unusual novel by married writers, an academic couple is stranded at home with their children during the pandemic. One of them fully indulges her scholarly obsession with Herman Melville, sometimes adding to her partner’s stress. This is a short, profound read worth checking out.

The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

It’s not Christmas without the Grinch movie but why not read it this year? This heartwarming story about the effects of Christmas makes for the perfect bedtime story for a little one or a nostalgic read for yourself.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, by Conan Doyle

Another timeless Christmas classic. In this classic Christmas tale, Holmes and Watson take us on a riotous ride through London in search of the answer to a singular and whimsical problem. This is a wonderfully British and enjoyable read.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women, originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, is still beloved by many. Whether you’ve read it ten times or never before, it makes the perfect read for a cold winter’s afternoon.

Wreck the Halls: A Novel, by Tessa Bailey

This sexy romance novel from Tessa Bailey features Mel and Beat, the adult children of two former bandmates who have to convince their estranged mothers to play a Christmas Eve concert. Mel and Beat were friends as teenagers, but now, as they work together to make this reunion happen, could they be something more? This is a funny holiday rom-com from a New York Times bestselling author — you can’t go wrong!

Happiness Falls, by Angie Kim

This instant New York Times bestseller is a mesmerizing update to the “missing person” story. When a father goes missing, his family’s desperate search leads them to question everything they know about him and one another in this thrilling page-turner. We won’t want to reveal too much, but if you are looking for a new crime book, we recommend picking this up.

Crook Manifesto, by Colson Whitehead

Set in 1970s Harlem, this novel follows furniture store owner Ray Carnegie, who discovers that staying out of the game is more complicated than he imagined. This book is certain to be on many Christmas lists, so grab it for that reader in your life.

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, by Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Bodybuilder turned actor and politician reinvents himself as a motivator with an improvement guide. This is a self-help book written in a unique, earnest, blunt, and powerful voice — we’d expect no less from the author. This would make for a great Secret Santa present or a stocking filler and you can sneak a read too.

All the Beauty in the World, by Patrick Bringley

This is an intimate, human, and deeply moving book from a former journalist who became a guard at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Millions of people climb the grand marble staircase into New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art every year. But only a select few spend long, quiet days communing with masterpieces. This is an incredibly unique book about the portrait of art and life.

The Woman in Me, by Britney Spears

If you prefer the autobiographical kind, then this memoir by American singer Britney Spears is worth a read. Spears tells all in her heartfelt and honest book, portraying her rise to fame, tumultuous relationship with her father, and widely documented mental health struggles.

Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque, by Ed Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell

What’s Christmas without a new cookbook? In a collaboration with his son, Ryan, Ed explores the family tradition and deep 125-year history of whole-hog barbeque that has made him famous. From cracklin’ to hush puppies, fried green tomatoes to deviled eggs, okra poppers, skillet cornbread, potato salad, and pickled pigs’ feet, Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque is filled with delicious and essential recipes honed over decades.

Fly: The Big Book of Basketball Fashion, by Mitchell S. Jackson

The Big Book of Basketball Fashion is the story of the extraordinary intersection of high fashion and basketball. It looks at fashion from the league’s inception to today and celebrates the iconic style of NBA athletes. This makes for the best coffee table book and features incredible photos of fabulous glamour and style.

A Holly Jolly Ever After, by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

Who doesn’t love a spicy rom-com around Christmas time? An actress and a single former boy band member are reunited as costars on a steamy holiday movie. This is a funny, romantic story and one of the biggest festive books of 2023.

Never Never, by Colleen Hoover

This one is for Colleen Hoover fans. Charlie Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They’ve been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning, they are strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love – every memory has vanished. Now Charlie and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why.

New York Bars at Dawn, by Daniel Root

This is another one for the coffee tables. Relive some glory days with this stunning photography of Gotham’s most iconic watering holes, from McSorley’s to the Stonewall Inn. This unique book offers portraits of New York bars after closing time – the perfect gift for someone special.

So there you have it, our 25 books for the holiday season. Whether you need a stocking stuffer or the perfect book for cozying up this Christmas, we hope you found what you’re looking for.

As you flick your way through The Big Book of Basketball Fashion, uncover the latest crime with Sherlock Homes, or read a Christmas classic to a little one, we hope you have a relaxing and happy holiday season.

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