Pull up your holiday socks and crawl under a warm blanket because Christmas is round the corner. What better way to beat the countdown than cozying up with a good book. Buckle up and stop wondering why Uncle John’s portrait above the mantelpiece turns a bit grey every year, because there are better things to do. I have here five holiday reads you will want to get your arms around and fall asleep with.
1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Image source: Puffin
Released over 170 years ago, A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens still remains one of the most beloved Christmas books for both children and adults alike.The book, divided into five parts, begins on a cold and bleak Christmas eve in London, exactly seven years after the death of one Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner (Jacob Marley). Scrooge, the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” hates Christmas (he even explicitly calls it a “humbug”) and rejects his nephew’s Christmas invitation. What follows is a delightful journey as we see Scrooge transform, through frequent visits by his deceased partner’s ghost, into a gentler and kind man.
Dickens’ writing style is idiosyncratic and smooth (not to mention very British). It’s the literary equivalent of egg nog by fire – smooth and warm. Definitely a worthy read!
Book Length: 104 pages
Reading Time: 2hours and 5 minutes
2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Image source: ALSC
Sure, The Polar Express is a children’s book, but don’t let that fool you. It safely avoids the plane cuteness of all Santa stories and deals with deep magic. As Vicki Smith for Kirkus online observed, “the real audience of the book may be nostalgic adults rather than young children who presumably believe in Santa Claus.”It’s the story of a young boy who embarks on a mysterious journey when he boards a powerful magical train that’s headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus’s home. What unfolds is an adventure of self-discovery, for the boy realizes that the wonder of life never fades as long as you believe in it.
The book, with its beautiful prose and lush illustrations of the winter world is a must read for anybody who as a child, wanted to believe in magic. The Polar Express will leave you admiring the rather ordinary snow-draped trees and streets, the mushy and cold winter skies, forcing you to crawl into each scene.
Book Length: 32 pages
Reading Time: 45 minutes
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Image source: Kate W J White
A small confession: This is the first book I ever had the courage to read, and it’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read. However, that’s not the reason this book’s on the list. The Book Thief is a rather small story, about “a girl, some words, an accordionist, a few fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery”. It is set against the backdrop of World War II in Germany, but the angle it (the storyline) takes is completely different from the rest, in a beautiful way. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but it makes up for that with an unforgettable story about a little girl and the ability of books to “feed the soul”. It simply is a masterpiece.
Book Length: 552 pages
Reading Time: 12 hours and 14 minutes
4. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Image source: Adrian Davis
How can you not love Dr. Seuss? His books have inspired countless animated cartoons and movies. Dr. Seuss’ book of finding the true meaning of the Christmas spirit has been memorable in many generations’ eyes. His writing is excellent, written in a creative way using rhyming text that truly shows the creativity of this book.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a favorite to be read every year, reminding us that the true meaning of Christmas is not really about things. “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”
Book Length: 64 pages
Reading Time: 1 hour and 19 minutes
5. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Image source: Penguin Random House
Who said you can’t have a beautiful story without words? The Snowman is just that – a wordless story, a story without words, and a story with pictures that have “the hazy softness of air in snow.”Raymond Briggs’ magical world of The Snowman has a boy who builds a snowman that comes to life. The book at its core is about the wonderful nature of friendship which is: to have a friend, you have to first be one and you each have something special to learn from the other.
The Snowman is pure magic, grounded in what makes us human. Trust me, for a book without words, you will be surprised how devastatingly beautiful the story is.
Book Length: 32 pages
Reading Time: 39 minutes
Some Honorable Mentions:
There are loads of other books that couldn’t make it to my list, but are equally enjoyable when it’s snowing outside.
Check them out too!
- A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
- The Nut Cracker by E.T.A Hoffman
- The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
- The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris
That’s all for now. These must be enough to keep you warm and happy until Christmas. I wish you and your loved ones a warm and merry Christmas! Happy reading!