New YA Books Perfect for Winter Holiday Reading

Penguin Teen

Make the harrowing journey home with Queen Bitterblue's sister and spy, in the fifth novel in the bestselling Graceling Realm series. Hava sails across the sea toward Monsea with her sister, the royal entourage, and the world’s only copies of the formulas for the zilfium weapon she saved at the end of Winterkeep. And while Queen Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon that will change the world, Hava has a few more mysteries to solve—and a decision to make about who she wants to be in the new world Bitterblue will build.

Every single year I get excited about the approach of the holiday season and I start lining up my festive reading once Halloween passes. Every single year, I’ve bemoaned the fact that there is a serious lack of diversity in these holiday reads. I don’t think I’ve ever written about this topic on Book Riot without having to make a disclaimer that these books tend to skew white and Christian. Well, this year…things are starting to change. Slowly, and it’s not nearly enough, but of these five holiday books, two are about Hanukkah, two are written by authors of color, and one centers a queer romance! Which, to be honest…it’s about time in 2022. But I’ll take some cheer where I can get it, and go check out all five from the library!

talk santa to me book cover

Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban

Francie was born in her family’s epic Christmas-themed emporium — literally, she was born in one of the stables. But ever since her grandfather passed away and her aunt has run amok with some horrible new holiday ideas, she feels like everything she loves about her family’s business is slipping away. It’s up to her to help preserve the memories of the season…while maybe also wiping away a bad memory of her first kiss with a new memory of kissing the cute guy who works at the tree lot next door.

eight nights of flirting book cover

Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds

Shira wants a boyfriend this Hanukkah, and she knows the perfect guy: Isaac, her great-uncle’s assistant. Her only problem? She’s miserable at flirting. So when she gets snowed in with Tyler, the most insufferably flirtatious guy she knows, she strikes a deal with him: flirting lessons in exchange for some career help. But as the snow flies and the eight nights of Hanukkah slide by, Shira can’t help but think she enjoys flirting with Tyler a little too much.

The Christmas Clash

The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park

Chloe Kwon and Peter Li cannot stand each other, and there’s some history there: Their parents own rival Asian cuisine restaurants in the same mall. This holiday season, Chloe is working as a photographer for Santa and Peter is helping run a virtual reality North Pole experience, so they can’t help but run into each other. Only that might turn out to be a good thing, because when they learn a developer wants to tear down the mall, they team up to figure out a way to save the mall, and their families’ businesses.

cover of How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow; illustration of two young women walking a dog in a snowy street

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Shani has been having a rough holiday season. She was supposed to be focusing on an exciting new internship opportunity, but she got dumped right before winter break. And then she runs into May. Their first meeting might be a disaster, but May keeps popping up everywhere and soon Shani thinks that she might have found someone new and exciting…but is this something real, or just a holiday fling?

whiteout book cover

Whiteout by Angie Thomas, Dhonielle Clayton, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, and Tiffany D. Jackson

It’s Christmastime in Atlanta, and an unexpected snowfall brings everything in the Southern city to a halt. One teen needs to make an apology of epic proportions, and 12 of her friends will come together to help pull it off, making it a magical season full of unexpected love and wonder.

For more YA, check out some recent articles on our YA page, like Fabulous Standalone YA Novels You Should Read and more.