Photo by Tracy Fuentes
With the semester coming to an end and the holidays upon us after a tumultuous year, settling down with a book and a cup of hot cocoa sounds perfect to me. Whenever November hits, I am always tempted to pick up a few holiday-themed books to put myself in the holiday spirit. I would label that as my personal holiday literary tradition.
I’ve heard of other families making books as part of their holiday traditions, but no one does it like Iceland. From September to December, books fly off the shelves in the country due to their tradition called Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”
During this tradition, on Christmas Eve, all family members gift books to one another. After everyone has received their new books, families spend the rest of Christmas Eve reading together. Sounds like a Christmas well spent to me, and I’m honestly jealous that they have families who are interested in reading with each other.
While we all may not have the chance to spend Christmas Eve reading as we follow our other holiday traditions, I highly recommend picking up a holiday book to boost your spirits. It may not feel like Christmas with COVID-19 restrictions and face masks, but these books paired with some hot chocolate may help cultivate that Christmas feeling.
- The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
This is my number one recommendation for holiday reads! I read this book a couple of years ago and was stunned by the complex plot and excellent writing. This book is a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, except that this Scrooge actually ends up working as the newest Ghost of Christmas Past after failing to change her ways. The reader follows along as she haunts the latest Scrooge. Interesting plot and complicated characters: what more could you ask for to help you unwind this winter break?
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A nice, quick read, spend your holiday with some literal Christmas spirits. I had never read the actual story until it was assigned to me during one of my college English classes. Reading the original work was a unique experience, one that watching the many remakes will not give you. It always reminds me to not fall into a pit of materialism during the holidays and to make time for my family and friends amidst the shopping frenzy.
- My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
This is an anthology of twelve short holiday stories written by YA’s most prominent writers, from Holly Black to Rainbow Rowell. There’s sure to be a story for everyone in this anthology. Although the stories are short, you get to meet an interesting cast of characters and will be gripped by the plotlines. If one of these twelve stories can’t get you into the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will!
- Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson
Another collection of stories, but only three instead of twelve. All three stories are set on Christmas Eve in the same small town, interconnecting in the end. Yes, it was recently turned into a Netflix Original movie, but the plot of the books differs greatly from what happens in the film. Pick up the book before watching the movie, or vice versa, and see which version of events you prefer.
- Ex-mas by Kate Brian
This is one of my favorite holiday reads. Lila has to put a pause on throwing the holiday party of the year when her younger brother and his bestie run away to save Santa and the North Pole from global warming. With her parents away, the only person Lila can turn to is her ex, Beau. Maybe not the most amazingly written novel, but this is a light and fluffy read that will help you escape the stress 2020 may have brought upon you.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: This isn’t a holiday book.
Not exactly, I admit. But Lara Jean and her family, along with Peter Kavinsky, do celebrate Christmas in this novel, complete with their Christmas Cookie Extravaganza tradition and a holiday party. Reading this book always helps me to destress and puts me in a family mood.
- Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachael Cohn and Devid Leviathan
In the week before Christmas, Lily sets a red notebook full of dares on a shelf in her favorite bookstore. Dash stumbles upon it, and the duo begins to swap the notebook after filling it with challenges, confessions, and thoughts each time. Dash and Lily wonder if their chemistry will translate from the page to reality.
This is definitely a fun holiday read. There are two more books in the series, so all three could make it onto your holiday TBR. Netflix also turned this holiday story into a series, worthy of binging after reading the book.