First off, we’d like to wish all of a you a merry Christmas!
We hope your days will be filled with joy and many, many books.
So, to help you along a bit, we’ve compiled a list of books that we think suit the holidays best. These books will get you right into that Chistmassy vibe!
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
This one is a bit of a no-brainer on this list, but still important to mention. Everybody will know the story through the Muppets or another rendition of this well-known story, but when you read the book you will discover more. The book goes further than the movies, and generally speaking focusses more on the redemption part of the story. It also focusses on the importance of family and friends for a good life and how to become and stay a decent person. This sounds like a very good message for Christmas to us!
- Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)
I’m pretty sure it’s more of a personal feeling, but we really associate Sherlock Holmes with Christmas. Not that he is a particular festive person, nor do any of the stories take place during Christmas, but a good old fashion murder case, thought over by Sherlock himself, in his wing chair while smoking a pipe…to us, that’s the perfect cherry on the top of the Christmas season. I’d recommend ‘A study in scarlet’, as it is a novel and it’s chronologically the first novel: this is where you learn about the special relationship Holmes and Watson have. So maybe it will even get you a little bit sentimental!
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (1997)
What book better to read during the holidays of joyfulness and togetherness, than a book in which a lonely boy finally finds his true family. Also something about the whole approach Hogwarts has towards decorations and celebration, together with the people who are close to you, makes this a very suitable Christmas read. Plus, it also gives warm feelings to read a book loved in one’s youth. And Hogwarts will always be home.
- Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (1938)
Murder at Christmas, it’s that time of the year again! Our Belgian friend and his great mustache never really get to have a break… Now, imagine a Christmas scene, cozy and cheerful, all these decorations and good food; sounds lovely, right? Now imagine adding a lot of uncut diamonds, a black sheep in the family, an emotional and sadistic game and a crucial last will and testament. What do you get? Yes, murder: a wonderful locked room mystery, with a festive touch.
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1816)
Yes, before there was the ballet masterpiece by Tchaikovsky, there was a book. In the story, a little girl’s favourite Christmas toy comes to life to defeat the evil mouse king. It’s an imaginative tale, with a battle and a curse and good versus evil, mostly set in the night before Christmas! Honestly, that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Imagining the unimaginable.
- Fairytales: The Singing, Soaring Lark by the Brothers Grimm (1815)
Fairytales are perfect for Christmas, because they can so easily be read aloud to children or friends. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm traveled for years to collect German folk tales. The ones we all know are wonderful, but it’s worth it to look into some of the lesser known stories, like ‘The Singing, Soaring Lark’. This story is about a brave young woman whose perseverence leads her to encounter a dragon, lions, a griffin and many other things, all to reunite her family. It’s only a few pages long but it contains several plot twists and, greatest of all, a woman saves the prince for once.
- Crime at Christmas by C.H.B. Kitchin (1934)
I can’t tell you why it feels so right to read about horrific murders on such a hopeful, holy day, but it does. Crime at Christmas has the classic setting of a wealthy family that plays parlor games with their guests in their big house, until Christmas morning brings a gruesome discovery. Your Christmas might be miserable, but stockbroker-turned-detective Malcolm Warren has it worse: it’s bad enough that someone has died, but a death makes the whole holiday awkward, and that’s not what he signed up for when he accepted the invitation to Beresford Lodge.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Christmas is supposed to be a time of magic, but how do you keep that magic alive when you’re father is away at war and money is tight? That is the situation the four sisters and their mother find themselves in, in this book. However, as is also shown in this book, Christmas is also a time of sharing and spending time with your loved ones without worrying about the materialistic side of life. This book will show you how Christmas can be enjoyed when you have little, by sharing what you have, and will also warm your heart, because of the obvious love the four sisters and their mother share.
- Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) (1958)
A lot of people associate the holidays with lots of food, family and good spirits (not just of the alcoholic kind). This Danish story, though not set during Christmas, is all about food. In the story, a refugee from France just appears, so just the idea of a refugee changing the lives of others is already deeply connected to the Christmas story to me. But this stranger tries to convince these pious sisters and their guests to enjoy life just a little more, so she offers them this fantastic meal, that in the end they can’t help but enjoy, without fearing for their souls. It’s a wonderful pure tale on just enjoying the earthly things. Even though it’s mostly people eating food, the characters change over the course of the meal and it’s a wonderful story of people coming together and really opening up to each other.
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)
Dickens is Christmas. Though hardly historically accurate, he paints a picture of a snow covered London, with carriages and bells, warm churches and family dinners. The story starts off with complete poverty though: a young boy, whom terrible things happen to and a mysterious plot in which somehow an insignificant boy appears to be crucial. But through the actions of women mostly, he finds his family in the end. What could be more Christmassy: the message of hope, through a child in poverty and dispair, as he escapes from the dark criminal underworld of London. Also, Dickens is mostly known for creating brilliant characters and this book has some of the best in my opinion. A book everyone should read at least a dozen times, so why not at Christmas this year?
- Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
This story is about four children, who find themselves in a magical, hidden land called Narnia that is cursed by an evil snow queen: it’s always winter, but never Christmas. The children learn that, according to a prophecy, their arrival means that the rightful King of Narnia will return. Not only does he bring back Christmas, but he will defeat the White Witch, free her prisoners and forgive the traitors. Does that sound familiar? It might, because The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is not so much a Christmas story as it is an allusion to the original Christmas story.
- The original Christmas story in the Bible
We decided that creating a list of stories to read over Christmas simply wouldn’t be complete without the story that started it all.
The original story of the birth of Jesus can be found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, in New Testament of the Bible. Luke 2:1-20 is probably the most well known version of the story, but there’s a lot of the story we know from the Christmas books we read as a child missing from there. You will find the birth of Jesus there, the angels singing and the shepherds visiting. However to find the three kings and the story of an angry King Herod, you will have to turn to Matthew 2: 1-12. These two gospels appear to give two very different accounts of the birth of Christ, but as they are often thrown together in populair books or series, it’s best to read both gospels. The annunciation by the angel, which sets the story, can be found in both Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1: 26-38. And this is really what Christmas is all about: the birth of Christ and a light of hope in a seemingly dark world.
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
We hope you all have a great holiday!