Welcome to December! I have to admit that I’m becoming less Scrooge-like now that I have kiddos to help usher in the holiday season. And I have a secret to share with you: thanks to Spotify, I’ve been listening to Christmas music since before Halloween! It’s safe to say that I’m very excited about Christmas this year.
Today I’m linking up with Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl to share my favorite holiday books, which has proven to be somewhat difficult. I have obvious favorites, like The Polar Express and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but I didn’t want to add them to this list. So I’ve dug through the archives to find a few books that I hope are unique and a pleasant surprise. Not all of them necessarily have a holiday theme, but they all evoked a certain winter and holiday feeling when I read them.
I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley is the 4th novel in the Flavia de Luce series. Flavia is a delightful character – a young girl living in a crumbling English estate who is obsessed with chemistry… and who always manages to stumble into a murder. This year is no exception – a crew shows up at Flavia’s home to film a movie and – shock! horror! – someone is found murdered. Don’t worry, Flavia is on the case.
Winter Story by Jill Barklem is a part of the Brambly Hedge series. I adore these sweet picture books. The pages are full of beautiful art that portray a village of mice living in a Brambly Hedge. They work hard to put away enough food for the winter and manage to celebrate any time they can. The pictures are rich with full larders, cozy fires, cuddly quilts – exactly how I want my home to be. In Winter Story, the mice celebrate a rare snowstorm with a Snow Ball!
Greenglass House by Kate Milford is a delightful YA novel that’s set in Milo’s family inn during Christmas break. Milo is looking forward to quiet time with his parents and without guests when the strangest cast of characters start arriving. Quickly we’re swept into a mystery that features lost treasure, ghosts, and Milo owning his own identity. There’s a sequel, Ghosts of Greenglass House, that is just as wonderful.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley is one of those books that pulled me out of a reading slump. Set in Victorian London, Thaniel finds a gold pocket watch in his tiny apartment that ends up saving his life. From there, we meet Mori, a Japanese immigrant who creates the most exquisite timepieces (think steampunk creatures). Mori reminded me of a toymaker, which is why this comes to mind when I think of Christmas books.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis – maybe it’s the snow in the wood and the fur coats or maybe it’s because I’m reading this with my biggest bear right now, but something about this screams Christmas. I read this series on my own about 10 years ago, but it’s been fun to read with my oldest. We’re having a delicious meal with The Beavers right now.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt is another that’s not especially set during the holiday, but it’s a great one to devour under a cozy blanket with a hot cup of coffee at your side. I think the narrator is unnamed in this novel? Because I can’t remember it or find it anywhere — but the narrator attends a Liberal Arts college in Vermont and is drawn to an elite group of Classics students who are some of the worst people you’ll ever meet. This one goes into the Holidays category for me because, if I remember correctly, it’s over the course of an entire topsy-turvy year. And what I remember most is about how the main character lived in an apartment with nearly no insulation and almost froze to death, which screams the holidays to me. You too? (And I’m thinking I might need to read it again because I’m realizing that I remember very little about it!)
And no holiday list would be complete without my favorite Christmas movie: Love Actually. Sadly, this movie is not safe to watch with children, so wait until all of your lovelies are in bed and you’re wrapping gifts to fire it up. It’s hilarious with wonderful storylines all entwined, the cast is perfect, and it makes me dance and smile every time. I just heard a piece on NPR that said that most people hate this movie, which surprised me. How could anyone hate this movie? It’s just lovely. So I will be a strong defender of its greatness!
Okay – not quite 10, but I hope you found something new in this list that sparked your interest. How about you? What’s your favorite book to read during the holidays?? Or your favorite movies to watch in the background while wrapping presents?