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Lists of books to read over the holidays typically include some pretty schmaltzy, cheesy romance books. While I enjoy reading from just about every genre, those types of books pretty much come in dead last for me as far as preferences.
Still, I am a devoted seasonal reader and last year, I had trouble finding any holiday-ish books with premises that appealed to me. So, I have spent some time recently compiling a list of very different Holiday books.
While the below list is heavy on mystery and thriller (plus one horror – sorry, I HAD to), I promise it is not completely devoid of romance or stories that warm the heart. It just contains book choices that are a little more “off the beaten path.”
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor (William Morrow, 2017): Pretty much the best way to get me to read a romance book is to combine it with a historical setting. That is what you get with this book set during World War I. I have had a copy sitting on my shelf since January, but I have held onto it all year to read in December.
No Exit by Taylor Adams (Joffe, 2017): I have had this on my TBR forever and also included it on my “Summer is for Thrillers” reading list this year. I have heard it’s a wild ride with crazy twists and turns. Being set during a snow storm in the Colorado Rockies, I think it is perfect for a December read.
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena (Penguin, 2018): It doesn’t snow too much in Texas, but I clearly gravitate towards snowy books during the Holidays. This one is a whodunit murder mystery amongst lots of snow in a secluded lodge in the Catskills. Sign me up.
How the Light Gets In (Inspector Gamache #9) by Louise Penny (Minotaur, 2013): When I was a new mother of two tiny little boys, I was in love with these books and had been reading through them one by one. When I reached for #11, The Nature of the Beast, the tale of murder (including a small little boy) revulsed me, and I set the book down. My boys are older and my skin is thicker (necessary for being the mom of boys!) and now I am wondering if I should go back to these cozy mysteries which are set in an idyllic town in Canada. It’s been several years, so I am likely going to need to refresh my memory. I could go through and read the summaries, but I think it would be more fun to start with this one, which is set during Christmas.
Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White (Berkley, 2019): I am totally intrigued by this series which includes psychics, ghosts and is set in the deep South. Even though I normally would back up and start with #1 in a series (this one is #6), I might make an exception and read this one first because of the setting.
In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd (Broadway Books, 1991): The movie this one is based on, A Christmas Story, is hilarious and iconic, and I can’t believe I have never read the book. Planning to remedy that this year.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (William Morrow, 2013): Ok, this one might be more of a stretch, but after I saw several Instagrammers feature it as a Holiday pick (probably because of the new holiday cover), I decided to add it to this list. Charlie Manx kidnaps children and takes them to “Christmasland,” a horrifying and magical place that also transforms them into something….not quite human. As a child, Victoria McQueen narrowly escapes Manx’s clutches and later in life, haunted by her experience, she is determined to stop him, no matter the cost. I read this in November and can’t even put into words how much I loved it.
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (William Morrow, 2008): I read the sample of this one before adding it to this list. Let me just say that I love me some snark, and this one HAS IT. If you like stories that are different (maybe even a little raunchy), you will enjoy this book about a group of pretty interesting small town characters and some serious Christmas chaos.
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (Fawcett, 2005): Rounding out my Holiday book list is this one by beloved author, Fannie Flagg, who also wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It’s about a man who finds out he has months to live, and decides to spend his last Christmas in a small town. What comes next is a heartwarming and humorous story full of rich characters perfect for a comforting holiday read. I hear the audio, read by the author, is particularly good.