Christmas is, to many, the most magical time of the year. I count myself among these enthusiasts. From sometime in mid-November to Boxing Day, I subsist on a diet of holiday cheer. Books, movies, music…half of the entertainment I consume is Christmas-themed. I start making up a new list sometime around August. This may seem obsessive (and all right, it is), but it’s also practical. Christmas books for adults are the exception, rather than the rule. While classics and romance novels are a staple of my holiday reading, this year I tried to branch out to some contemporary literary fiction and nonfiction.
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
“August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…
Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?
Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…”
Hercules Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
“In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder—and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons—one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive—and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement.”
A Treasury of African-American Christmas Stories by Bettye-Collier Thomas
“The perfect Christmas gift, Bettye Collier-Thomas’ second landmark collection of historic African-American Christmas Stories includes pieces from such literary giants as John Henrik Clarke and Langston Hughes, as well as gems from rediscovered writers.”
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
“For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, and he is famous on the streets of London, where avid fans sneak up on him to snip off pieces of his hair. He and his wife have five happy children, a sixth on the way, and a home filled with every comfort they could imagine. But when Dickens’ newest book is a flop, the glorious life he has built for himself threatens to collapse around him. His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife and children planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics going in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit.
Increasingly frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman in a purple cloak, who might be just the muse he needs. Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy, propel Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey through his Christmases past and present—but with time running out, will he find the perfect new story to save him?
In prose laced with humor, sumptuous Victorian detail, and charming winks to A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva breathes new life into an adored classic. Perfect for fans of Dickens, for readers of immersive historical fiction, and for anyone looking for a dose of Christmas cheer, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is destined to become a perennial holiday favorite.”
Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture by Dr. Maulana Karenga
“Written by the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture provides a thorough understanding of the views and values of Kwanzaa, its historic origins and cultural background and its cultural meaning to millions of Africans who celebrate it throughout the world African community.”
Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra
“Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.
Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.
Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?
(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)”
A Tiara Under the Tree by Carolyn Hector
“The ultimate prize this Christmas…
Former beauty queen Waverly Leverve can barely show her face in public after an embarrassing meme goes viral. But now fate and a misdelivered pizza have brought her dreams back to life. Gorgeous bad boy turned business mogul Dominic Crowne wants to sponsor Waverly in a pageant scheduled for Christmas Eve. Waverly vows to keep their arrangement purely professional — but soon their arrangement quickly takes a sensual turn…
Dominic knows that his golden touch can fix almost anything — including Waverly’s tilted tiara. Against his own will, Dominic is mesmerized with his stunning new client. He’s falling for the pageant princess and the vulnerable yet sexy woman within. But when Waverly’s ultimate goal finally comes within reach, can he help her achieve professional redemption and find his Princess Charming under the mistletoe?”
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
“It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…”
The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
“In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…
Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…
As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?”
A Hanukkah Present by Mark Binder
“Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature, “A Hanukkah Present” is a collection of eleven multigenerational tales and a novella. Whether you spell it with an H or a Ch, these stories will be enjoyed by families of every background. Learn the origin of “The Chanukah Present” Written by award-winning author and storyteller Mark Binder, these stories include “The Lethal Latkes” (mentioned in the New York Times), the Challah that Ate Chelm, and many more.”
Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert
“‘There’s a beast inside of me. I keep it caged. You drive it wild.’
Cash Evans has come a long way since his troubled childhood, but all the wealth he’s earned as a tattoo artist can’t fix the hole in his heart. He knows that the sweet barista who haunts his dreams is off-limits… But life doesn’t always go to plan.
‘There isn’t a man on earth who could ruin me.’
Bailey Cooper is determined to learn from her mother’s mistakes. She’s seen how cruel love can be, and she’s not about to sacrifice her self-respect for a relationship. But when a bad boy with a heart of gold comes to her rescue, she finds herself wondering if this beast might just be her Prince Charming.
Will these two lost souls find a happy ending under the tree this Christmas?
Or is their love doomed to wither with the mistletoe?
Merry Inkmas is a steamy Christmas romance starring a brooding, bad boy hero and a Black, BBW heroine. Be warned: this love is hot enough to melt any winter frost!”
Chrismakkuh: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday by Ron Gompertz
“Christmas meets Hanukkah for millions of mixed-faith families—who deck their trees with Stars of David and spin the dreidel under mistletoe. Here is a one-of-a-kind, amusingly illustrated and endlessly entertaining guide to the joys—and oys—of celebrating Chrismukkah, the hybrid holiday.
A veritable cornucopia of seasonal delights, this handy (and often hilarious) lifestyle guide walks us through all the Chrismukkah events, history, and lore. You’ll learn about hybrid holiday traditions in decorating (ornaments, wreaths, menorahs, dreidels); innovative tchotchkes (Chrismukkah cards, stockings, lights); and a plethora of menorah options (Godzilla or snowman, anyone?). Plus, the book includes rollicking games to play and songs to sing, along with easy-to-follow recipes for Latkes with Sugar Plum Fairy Sauce, General Saul’s Chicken, Mama Mia Matzah Pizza!, Blitzen’s Blintzes, and other Noel Noshes. Your yuletide happy hours will never be the same once you start mixing a Yule Plotz, Meshugga Nog, or Manishewitz Mulled Wine.
Rounding out the mix are chapters on snazzy holiday hats and caps, interfaith dog and cat gift suggestions, and office-party dos and don’ts. It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrismukkah, and now we’ll all be ready to celebrate with style!”
Wrapped: A Fit Adjacent Christmas Novella by Rebekah Weatherspoon
“Following a painful divorce, all pastry chef Shae Kenney wants for Christmas is one good date that doesn’t end in disaster. When Aidan Meyer, a smoking hot hunk from her past, matches with her on a dating app, Shae asks Santa for the strength not to screw it up. But when one perfect date with Aidan rolls into a second date, then a third and a fourth, Shae’s fear of heartbreak might just sabotage one of the best gifts she’s ever received—real love.
*This sweet Christmas novella features a slightly anxious plus-size beauty who is a master of all things cupcakes and tarts, and a bespectacled tech guy who just wants to sweep her off her feet.*”
And there you have it. Regardless of what, or if, you celebrate any holiday in December, these Christmas books for adults should keep you covered for the season. Happy holidays!