I had hoped and planned to have a list of holiday book recommendations out earlier in the season. Honestly, at one point in the season, I started to think I wouldn’t have enough positive recommendations to even publish a full post. I’ve actually been reading holiday books in overdrive, hoping to have more to deliver but… I’ve picked up a LOT of holiday books that just didn’t do it for me. So, the volume is great but the Christmas book recommendations are few. And while I typically don’t share much about the books I read and don’t connect with, there’s a lot of books I’ve read this season that were highly anticipated that fell flat (for me). So, today, I’m sharing a few lists to help you narrow down your holiday reads — holiday books I enjoyed, books that I didn’t love, books I still have on my list, and Eliza’s favorite kids Christmas books.
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Please remember, book preferences and what/how we connect with books is totally personal. If I don’t like a book, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Just that I didn’t connect with it enough to recommend. That being said, you can find my running list of recent reads of books I’ve rate with 4+ stars HERE. I’m always updating the list (multiple times each week) so bookmark it and check back often!
Holiday Books I Enjoyed
Below are the holiday books I’ve read and really enjoyed. I hope to add a few more before the year is over!
Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison
I included this in my fall book recommendations for the cozy factor, but it’s actually a Christmas season book! I’ve recommended this top fave multiple times and will continue to recommend.! Book 1/4 in series (book 4 releases in 2024 but I have loved 2 & 3). Contemporary romance with friends and fake dating in a small town, trying to save a Christmas tree farm. This was a five star read for me! *Does include some explicit scenes
Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
A pleasant surprise, MKA books usually move a little slow for me, but I loved the coziness, pace, and plots of this one. Southern brother/sister duo head to the Village in NYC to run their annual Christmas tree stand and they make community with all different characters in the neighborhood. Some contemporary romance and good feels (plus a sweet pup and vintage camper).
The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson
I’m a fan of Peter Swanson and was excited to dig into this mystery/thriller novella. It’s a quick, fast-paced read with a twist I didn’t anticipate. There’s a supernatural element, too 😉 For something a little different, I really really enjoyed this one!
Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist (Book 1/3 in Mistletoe Romance Series)– Codi Hall
I read all three books in the series, but this one (the first) was my favorite of the three. With a town named Mistletoe and characters with names like Nick, Noel, Merry, Holly (you get it 😉 ), there’s friends to lovers, fake dating, bachelorettes, mean girls and more. There’s a little bit of everything and it’s definitely a fun time for the season!
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
Perfect for New Year’s, this dual POV and dual timeline of New Year’s flashbacks is a fun, building contemporary romance slow burn. Perfect, enjoyable escape from any heaviness and the holiday hustle and bustle!
Recent Holiday Books I Didn’t Fully Connect With
A lot of these have great reviews but for whatever reason, I didn’t connect with these books. If I found myself just trying to finish the book and it ended up feeling more like a chore to read, it landed on this list. Most of these aren’t even totally disliked by me, but none made it to my ranked list of 4+ stars. I know I’m in the minority on some of these, though…
- In A Holidaze — Christina Lauren (Bummed because I typically love CL)
- The Santa Suit — Mary Kay Andrews (Didn’t hold my interest)
- Tis the Season for Revenge — Morgan Elizabeth (I actually loved parts of this but I despised the MMC, the repetition of the FMC, and the explicit scenes were a little much for me)
- Holiday Romance — Catherine Walsh (This one gets great reviews but it didn’t hold my interest)
- Window Shopping — Tessa Bailey (Just “fine” for me — a quick read)
- There’s Something About Merry (Book 2/3) — Codi Hall (Didn’t hold my interest)
- Along Came Holly (Book 3/3) — Codi Hall (Didn’t hold my interest)
- The Gift — Freida McFadden (QUICK novella I found kind of odd more than anything)
- A Merry Little Meet Cute — Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone (The spice, premise, and characters were a little too much for me)
- Wreck the Halls — Tessa Bailey (Didn’t care for it and don’t understand the hype)
- The Plight Before Christmas — Kate Stewart (A lot of hype for this one so I’m definitely in the minority — for me, it started off promising but ended up losing my interest)
Holiday Books Still On My List
I am HOPEFUL for some of these and have put an *asterisk next to the books that are priority to read before Christmas. I will try to update the above lists as I finish the following!
- *Claus and Effect — Piper Rayne (Top of my list! I don’t know much about it but it has super positive reviews and looks like a pretty quick read.)
- *Snowed In — Catherine Walsh (Didn’t love other holiday book by this author but hopeful).
- *The Christmas Fix — Lucy Score (CURRENTLY READING! Positive reviews so I’m hopeful but I read Mr. Fixer Upper (first book in series but non-Christmas) and didn’t love it)
- *Same Time Next Year — Tessa Bailey (Not high expectations, but quick novella for NYE and am hoping it’s some fun)
- A Holly Jolly Ever After — Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone (The first book in this series was a little too much for me so not sure I should keep this one on my list)
- A Cross-Country Christmas — Courtney Walsh (Have seen great things)
- The Twelve Dogs of Christmas — Susan Wiggs (Great ratings)
- Faking Christmas — Cindy Steel (Great ratings)
- How to Ruin the Holidays — Becky Monson (Positive ratings)
- Holiday Star — Melissa Dymond (Published in both “open” and “closed” door formats, depending on personal preference.)
I have a list of even more potential books but those will have to wait til next year. I’ve also had multiple messages about Elin Hilderbrand’s winter series, but I have yet to read any of her books. I feel like I should start with one of her summer beach reads 😉
Top Holiday Books (for children)
Of course, there’s the classics (and some of the below are classics), but if you’re looking to expand your collection, are creating a list to check out from the library, or need some gift-able book ideas, these are all big winners in our house!
- God Gave Us Christmas
- All the Colors of Christmas
- The Mitten
- The Polar Express
- A Simple Christmas On the Farm
- A Birthday Party for Jesus
- Red & Lulu
- The Christmas Owl
- 5 More Sleeps ‘Til Christmas
Acrylic Book Ledge Shelves (24″ 4-pack)
What are some of your favorite holiday books? They can be new but they don’t have to be current. Do any of our lists match up? Did you enjoy any of the books in the list I didn’t connect with? Share your thoughts/personal recommendations in the comment section below!