“What are you reading right now?” is a question I frequently ask my friends. Books have remained a constant in my life, and even with a neverending stack of titles on my bedside table, I cannot help but add to it if something new catches my attention or a friend recommends it. I have FOMO when it comes to books, and if you are an avid reader, you know this is an actual condition. I am constantly searching for the next great novel to add to my reading list, one that will cause me to lose sleep, forgo washing my dishes and laundry, and mourn the characters at the end.
Although I enjoy reading within all genres, one of my habits is to lean into festive fiction the closer it gets to the holidays. Since my family refuses to cater to anything Christmas until after Thanksgiving, my reading list, packed full of small towns decked out in holiday lights, tinsel, and falling snow, is my form of rebellion. I begin diving into these warm and fuzzy beauties around mid-October, refusing to venture into other genres until after the New Year.
If you want to add to your holiday reading list this year, here are a few favorites. Each title on the list will make you crave a cup of hot chocolate, grab a soft blanket off the couch, put your phone on silent, and maybe even play Christmas music in the background.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.
Book 1: Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
What happens if one decides to skip Christmas this year? No presents, no cards, no tree, not even a fruit cake? Would anyone notice?
These questions become a reality for Luther and Nora Krank after their daughter leaves home, and they decide to forgo Christmas and all it entails in favor of a Caribbean cruise. However, their decision travels quickly around their small town, and the consequences are not quite what they anticipated. John Grisham departs from his steady stream of legal fiction to peek into the chaos woven into some of our holiday traditions, all the while reminding us that community matters and that sometimes simplicity rules supreme.
Note: I know that Skipping Christmas has been turned into a film. However, it differs significantly from the novel. Do yourself a favor and pick up this charming bo
Book 2: Wishing and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb
The year is 1964, and Felix Funicello, cousin to Mouseketeer Annette, is a fifth-grade student at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, where his teacher, Sister Dymphna, is determined to make this his worst school year yet. That is, until an unlikely accident occurs and alters the course of Felix’s entire year.
Set in the fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, this lighthearted novella transports readers back to the days when life’s most significant concerns centered around playground antics, navigating the opposite sex, and the casting of the school’s Christmas play. If you are a fan of A Christmas Story, you will fall in love with Three Rivers, its cast of characters, and the little boy who simply wants to survive the fifth grade.
Book 3: Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
In Jan Karon’s book Shepherd’s Abiding, readers revisit the quaint village of Mitford, tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where Christmas preparations are fully underway. Mitford’s resident priest, Father Tim, has discovered a derelict nativity scene at the local antique shop and sets out to restore the set to its original state; however, as he removes old layers of paint, painful memories of the past resurface, causing him to wonder if someone can genuinely create beauty from ashes.
As Jan Karon’s Mitford comes alive under blankets of snow and the soft glow of twinkle lights, each of her beloved characters encounters challenges: local bookshop owner Hope faces a new adventure, Lew Boyd hides a secret, and grill owner Percy prepares for retirement. In her gentle way, Karon once again uses her character’s changes and obstacles to remind us that nothing is too broken to be mended and that hope always abounds.