Baby, it’s cold outside. So why not stay in with a cup of holiday cheer and curl up with a good book? If you enjoy a bit of early holiday reading to stoke your festive spirit, then look no further. Perhaps you have ulterior motives and want to stock up on books as an excuse to hide from eccentric family or just escape the bombardment of Christmas movies-of-the-week. Either way, the library has you covered.
If you have not browsed the shelves of holiday fiction recently, then you might be surprised at the variety you will find. Selections go way beyond the Charles Dickens holiday classics. (Yes, plural – Dickens published five Christmas tales.)
Of course, perennial bestselling authors are filling the shelves each Christmas season. Now, one can certainly argue whether these authors are publishing holiday fiction out of a deeply felt devotion to the season, or a deeply felt obligation to their mortgage. In any case, holiday bestsellers like James Patterson’s Merry Christmas, Alex Cross; Mary Higgins Clark’s Deck the Halls; Wally Lamb’s Wishin’ and Hopin’; Suzanne Brockmann’s All Through the Night; and David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train have remained popular choices for readers each December. In fact, some authors have made Christmas novels a holiday tradition. Anne Perry is offering readers a new holiday gift with A Christmas Hope. Debbie Macomber’s latest provides a heartwarming comedy in Starry Night.
Other modern era authors are bestsellers specifically because of their holiday writing. Richard Paul Evans hit big in the early 1990’s with The Christmas Box and has followed with many bestselling titles. Donna Van Liere struck silver and gold with The Christmas Shoes in 2001 and has continued to publish holiday books since. Jeff Guinn’s recent novels, including How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas and The Great Santa Search, have all spotlighted the holiday season in a playful way. While Thomas Kinkade’s Cape Light series is not exclusively holiday driven, many entries, like Christmas Treasures, are festively themed.
Modern era holiday classics are hotly debatable, but Jan Karon’s Mitford Christmas tale, Shepherds Abiding, is a solid entry on anyone’s list. With a story focused on gifts from one’s heart, this title remains a fan favorite and continues to draw new readers to the Mitford series. For Mitford fans, Philip Gulley’s Harmony series offers a similar reading experience and a wonderful holiday entry with Christmas in Harmony. For a strictly spiritual approach, Max Lucado offers classic fiction like An Angel’s Story and The Christmas Candle. For a humorous and slightly skewed take on the season, try the classic Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. Other funny offerings include Garrison Keillor’s A Christmas Blizzard, James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Holiday Stories, and Dave Barry’s The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog.
Modern era holiday classics are often helped by film or television productions. John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas has become both a holiday film and book favorite. Of course, what holiday season would be complete without watching A Christmas Story, which is based off Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. While the film might feel like a two viewing minimum cover charge each year, the book display’s Shepherd’s masterful blend of irony and hilarity that transcends generations.
These days, genre fiction is exploding with options for the festively inclined reader. Mystery lovers, both cozy and hard-boiled, will enjoy a wide variety of holiday themed titles. Classics like Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie and Holmes for the Holidays which is an anthology of Sherlock Holmes inspired stories remain popular choices. Food-themed mystery series like Joanne Fluke’s Gingerbread Cookie Murder and Leslie Meier’s Christmas Cookie Murder are tasty morsels any time of year. Donna Andrews has created a murderous spin on the Twelve Days of Christmas in Six Geese A-Slaying. Local favorite Joan Hess, adds a holiday twist to her Claire Malloy series in A Holly, Jolly Murder. Thriller author David Morrell spins his web of Christmas intrigue in A Spy Who Came for Christmas. For Southern flair, look to books like Peggy Webb’s Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse and the short story collection A Kudzu Christmas: Twelve Mysterious Tales. Noir lovers will enjoy Ken Harmon’s The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir.
If you long for Christmas past, then historical holiday treats abound. Louisa May Alcott’s classic short holiday stories that can be found in The Quiet Little Woman. Owen Parry’s Civil War Christmas tales share the joys of the holiday during the country’s darkest days in Our Simple Gifts. Joan Medlicott gracefully shifts between a modern setting and the Civil War in A Blue and Gray Christmas. If your taste is more to the World War era, then try this touching Gilbert Morris novel, The Angel of Bastogne. Ace Collins captures life on the home front in The Christmas Star. For a bit of European flavor, try Karen Harper’s Elizabethan mystery The Queene’s Christmas for a bit of intrigue.
Holiday romance novels are candy-coated delights. If you are looking for a steamy escape this season, then check out some of our recent favorites. Katie Lane’s Hunk for the Holidays is a sexy option for those seeking that tuxedo-clad dreamboat. If your tastes run more to the rugged cowboy scene, then check out Carolyn Brown’s Honky Tonk Christmas. Carly Alexander’s The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus is a saucy holiday romp that proclaims, “If you want to attract Mr. Right, you’ve gotta wear red.” For a naughty and nice twist, try A Very Merry Christmas featuring authors Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce, and Janice Maynard. Their sassy stories might make Santa check his list twice. Christie Ridgway spikes her fireworks with just a touch of danger in Not Another New Year’s.
For those looking for a recipe for offbeat holiday reading, there are plenty of ingredients for you too. Start with the anthology The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales. Follow with a dose of Rene Gutteridge’s Boo Humbug and then up the spice quotient with Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. Finally, garnish with Tim Dorsey’s When Elves Attack.
So go ahead and sing your fa-la-la’s or chant your humbugs. Whether you like your holidays dusted with sprinkles or prefer them on the rocks, the Fayetteville Public Library can brighten your holidays with some great books this season.