Was there ever a year more suited to cozying up with some holiday reads? Everyone is ready for some hygge, for some jolabokaflod, for a toasty beverage, a soft blanket, and a happy ending or twelve. To that end, here are a few books to help get you in the mood for winter, no matter what you’re celebrating.
I maintain that British holiday fiction is the way to go — a little sharper, a little spicier than Hallmark, but just as cozy. The one I’m raving about this year is THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS from Jenny Bayliss. It’s a different story than the Hallmark movie of the same name, and well worth your time. The setup: a fabric designer for Liberty of London (who has a side hustle baking delicious treats for her hunky best friend’s cafe) enrolls in a holiday-themed matchmaking series — twelve dates over the weeks leading up to Christmas. The dates range from cringeworthy to near-perfect, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that her perfect match has been in front of her the whole time. Baked goods galore, a historic British manor, a saucy knitting group, and a flawed-yet-swoony hero — all served with dry English wit — combine to make this an utterly charming read that won’t put you in a diabetic coma.
A professional viola player named…wait for it…Viola. A single dad with an adorable moppet. A nativity play run amok. City-shutdown-level snowstorms. Overbearing Extended Family Shenanigans. Copious amounts of hot cocoa. Yorkshire pudding! Jules Wake’s NOTTING HILL IN THE SNOW doesn’t have to send her heroine to a small town to find true love and/or a perfect Christmas — it all happens right in London, which makes for a lovely change of pace — Viola’s career is central to who she is, and there’s never a question of whether she’ll abandon it for the single dad and moppet, despite the many obstacles strewn in their path. Come for the vicarious London living, stay for the Christmas armadillo.
Kristin Hannnah fans will rejoice to see that her 2005 story, COMFORT AND JOY: A FABLE has been rereleased. School librarian Joy, reeling from her recent divorce, impulsively books a flight out of town and winds up — via catastrophic circumstances — at the Comfort Lodge, a run-down resort that’s home to a grieving little boy and his overwhelmed father. Helping Bobby and his father find their way back to each other in time for Christmas forces Joy to come to terms with her own past. As the title says, it’s more fable than novel, with a focus on forgiveness, faith, and full-on miracles. Hannah captures the beauty of a Pacific Northwest winter with her signature style, but be aware that there’s a significant magical element to the story.
Christina Lauren, known for snarky, sexy romance, delivers both in their latest release, IN A HOLIDAZE. Mae Jones is having a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad stretch of days, including job woes, romantic troubles, and the sale of her family’s beloved winter home after one last Christmas. She makes a desperate wish to the universe as she leaves the cabin…and promptly finds herself in a Groundhog Day-style time loop. Will she use these do-overs to fix her life and find true love? (I bet you can guess.) Filled with witty banter and lots of heart, this is spicier than your standard Hallmark fare — but considerably tamer than earlier work by this author duo.
Myquillin Smith’s WELCOME HOME isn’t technically a holiday book — it’s a seasonally-inspired guide to decorating and entertaining — but the section on winter style, with its thoughtful, “cozy-minimalist” approach, feels both inspiring and manageable. While Smith views the seasons through a distinctly Christian lens, readers of any faith will find plenty of great advice on how to make their home feel comforting instead of overwhelming.
Very Merry Cocktails: 50+ Drinks For the Holiday Season
2020, am I right?
Whatever your taste in holiday reads, we’ve got you covered! For more suggestions, just ask the Bookies — and have a safe, warm, and happy winter!