According to my various social media feeds, Iceland does the holiday season right: it’s a national tradition to give people books on Christmas Eve, and then spend the rest of the night reading. Can you imagine anything more blissful? Especially if you are reading the books while wearing flannel jammies and drinking a large cup of tea with a plate of cookies close at hand?
Happily, Cook Library has you covered when it comes to winter-friendly book selections. Still shopping? Check out our holiday gift guide, with suggestions for every age and interest. If, however, you’re looking for a festive and/or wintry read for yourself, read on for some favorite seasonal picks.
If you’re a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies, try Christmas Camp, by Karen Schaler. An ad exec who doesn’t “do” Christmas – she and her parents travel to the Caribbean each year instead – is forced to attend a week long Christmas boot camp in rural Vermont in order to make partner at her firm. As she struggles to balance the mandatory holiday fun with her work duties, she also discovers friends, a possible love interest, and surprising truths about herself. This is the quintessential Christmas romance: tree-decorating, snowball fights, and tons of delicious food, making for a warm and cozy read. Bonus points for the dog, of course.
If you want a holiday romance with a healthy dose of comedy, Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox fits the bill. It features a recently dumped heroine who has to vacate her London apartment due to a gas explosion, and winds up temporarily taking over her cousin’s doggy daycare in the English countryside, despite knowing nothing about dogs. There’s a pregnant beagle, a grumpy-but-good looking vet, a high-strung Great Dane, a possibly-sinister white van, and two alpacas, just for good measure. It’s delightful – the perfect blend of salty and sweet, with not an ounce of saccharine.
Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners is not REALLY holiday fiction, despite the gorgeous cover and the annual Christmas letters, penned by Violet Baumgartner, scattered throughout the book. But it IS about families, in all their messy, exasperating, madcap glory. When Violet and Ed’s daughter Cerise reveals a shocking secret during Ed’s retirement party, the fallout sends their entire family into disarray. I particularly loved how control-freak Violet – an admittedly over-the-top character – grew more and more lovable and human as the novel progressed. Read this one before your next family gathering – you’ll either realize how lucky you are, or pick up some valuable pointers for dealing with That One Particular Relative. (We’ve all got ‘em, don’t we?)
Ways To Hide In Winter: Sarah St. Vincent’s debut is decidedly NOT holiday-centric, but it has some of the most beautiful wintry writing I’ve ever come across. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it follows a young woman bearing both physical and mental scars as she works at an isolated rest stop. She encounters a stranger from Uzbekistan, and as their friendship unfolds, both his past and her own secrets place them in jeopardy. It’s a stunning, somber, unexpected story that ends on a well-earned note of hope. Perfect for dark quiet nights where you can appreciate every gorgeous line.
Still looking for the perfect holiday read, whether for a loved one or yourself? Stop by the reference desk or ask one of our experts! We’ll help you hunker down for the winter, Icelandic-style. (The pajamas are your job, though.)