If you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, then check out my list of the best holiday books for adults. I can’t guarantee that these will make everything merry and bright, but they’re a great list of books for the season.
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Original photo by Brenda Godinez
It’s no secret I’m not a very holiday-minded person. The season comes and goes, and I tolerate it.
It’s not that I hate the holidays, except for I guess I kind of do?
I don’t know. There are moments that I truly enjoy, but there’s a lot of mandatory fun in the holiday season.
“Look, we’re eating turkey. It’s what you do!”
“Oooh, ahhhh! Look at this lovely tree we set up that functionally means nothing but we do it for the holiday!”
“I hate my coworkers, but I’m glad we’re having this holiday party with no alcohol.”
“I’ve maxed out my credit cards, but hopefully my loved ones like these sweaters.”
I just hate having to observe meaningless traditions in the name of a holiday. Instead, I prefer to create new traditions that actually mean something to me and my family.
With that in mind, know that your girl ain’t here for the schmaltzy holiday reads. I don’t do Hallmark holiday movies, and the majority of the holiday movies out there make me roll my eyes.
So, consider this a list of the best holiday books for adults for the rest of us.
I have some tips for those who are interested in writing a holiday story in today’s video too:
(Also, you can check out a list of fun reads or this list of escapist books if you just want to read without thinking about the holiday.)
The Very Best Holiday Books for Adults
The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum
Given all the above information, know that I’m not one of those people who believes there is a current war on Christmas. If you are, I’m not sure how you ended up here.
This book talks about the history of Christmas, from how it was outlawed by Puritans, and the carnival origins of the holiday itself.
Finally, the book shows how the holiday evolved into the consumerist tradition we have today.
The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour
Originally, this list was just 20 Krampus books. But I cut it down.
Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about Krampus, but this book discusses the folklore behind the Christmas demon that has had a bit of a renaissance lately.
If you’re interested in the creepy fairytales of yore and the terrible things that people used to tell children to get them to behave, you’ll enjoy reading this book.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
This is probably the only traditional Christmas book that I enjoy, and it’s for a very silly and personal reason.
I had to memorize this poem when I was in the seventh grade, and I still remember it. It’s my stupid party trick — I can bust this out and people are in awe of my ability (or at least they look at me askance).
The sole reason to have this would be to pretend that you’re going to recite it to your loved ones on the holiday, and then put it down and act it out on your own.
This may not be on your to do list this holiday. But I say you’re missing out.
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
Like everyone else, I’m super fascinated by the idea of hygge, and it may be the only thing that gets me through the dark and gloomy deathscape of winter.
Sure, this isn’t technically a book for the holidays, but just try to tell me that glowing candles and greenery — both elements of hygge — don’t scream Christmas.
If you want to give your home a holiday look that’s less plastic ornaments and red and green, and more subdued warmth, then hygge is what you need.
Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark
If you’re in the market for a thrilling tale that uses Christmas as a backdrop, then this is a good option.
While not overtly Christmas themed, this book is about a family dealing with a sick dad around the holiday season, a mom who is robbed, and a son who chases a wallet thief down the subway.
So, while family is an element of this story, you’re not necessarily going to get the cheesy family themes you normally do with holiday books.
You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs
Who doesn’t love a good personal essay? And if you don’t have a lot of reverence for the holiday, this is going to be a book you enjoy.
If you’re not familiar with Augusten Burroughs, he details his life and all the humor and trauma therein. And while we all have traumatic holiday experiences, I doubt they’re as funny as these.
What’s your favorite holiday book?
What’s your go-to holiday book for adults? What books get your through the season? What kind of stories are you craving at this time of year?
I loved this list! And while I have mixed feeling about the holidays, I definitely have personal favorite reads during this time of year. I highly recommend The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen! It’s magical realism, set around the holidays, but not actually about them. There are books that follow their beloved person around, women in need of rescuing them selves, female friendship, and a ghost! It definitely helps take the edge off the holiday funk for me.
WHERE HAS THIS BOOK BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! Thank you so much for this recommendation. I’m excited to pick this one up.