Updated: Aug 31
Christmas time is probably my favorite time of year, and I usually get the hankering for a sweet festive read around thanksgiving. Sometimes I've found a gem, but more often I end up reading a fluffy Christmas book that left me wishing I had spent my time reading something more substantial. (I'm not typically a hopeless romantic, so if I read a love story, it's gotta have some meat to the storyline). So, in an effort to help you choose a good Christmas book or two this year, here's my thoughts on some I've read over the last few years!
#1 Skipping Christmas
I typically read this book every year and I still end up laughing so hard tears come out. If you've watched Christmas with the Kranks, this is the book that movie was based on. Most people I have suggested this book to, had no idea the movie was based on a book! I love watching that movie, and I think Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen do such an incredible job playing these characters; they absolutely crack me up. So this is not lightly said.. the book is better! The movie script is really close to the book, so if you've seen the movie a lot, there will be many parts that you can see the movie in your head while you read the book. But there is still some content that didn't make it into the movie. So, I highly recommend reading this one, even if you've seen the movie. It's sure to give you some good laughs, get you in the festive mood and is such a light read it won't be too time-consuming.
#2 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
This one is a family favorite! I can't tell you how many times we've read this book, seen the play and my little brother was even in the play one year as a Herdman boy. It's another fast and easy read because it's a YA novel, but one that the whole family will enjoy. There is enough clean parent humor throughout the book that Mom and Dad will both be snickering while the kids laugh at the Herdmans' behavior.
Besides the humor, there is the sweetest underlining message of showing kindness to all kinds of people, wether we "like" them or not. A family of 5 hooligan kids come to church for the Sunday school cookies and end up being cast in the Christmas nativity pageant. They cause all kinds of havoc, but in the mean time ask questions about the Christmas story that the kids who grew up in church don't even know the answers to. It leads to great conversations for the book characters but also for you kids, which is why I love this book as a family read aloud during the holidays!
#3 Christmas Shopaholic
Brand new this year, I picked this one up because I love Sophie Kinsella! this book had me laughing from the first page to the last, It's SO FUNNY! The best part is that her mentality is so relatable. Even if you aren't a huge shopper, like me, you'll still find yourself laughing at the way she justifies certain purchases to herself and her husband.
Shopaholic, Becky, gets handed the blessing of hosting Christmas dinner, pretty much without asking her. Her attempts at balancing motherhood, planning the event, buying the perfect Christmas gifts and working full-time are so ridiculous, you will be laughing until tears come to your eyes.
#4 Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Now Agatha Christie has the advantage of being one of my favorite writers, but this Christmas mystery is so dang good! It's one of the first books of her's I read and really got me hooked on her writing!
A father invites all his estranged children, their spouses and a few surprise guests home for Christmas. They all begrudgingly arrive and then the father is found dead. With barely any evidence and so many motives, Hercule Poirot solves the case and will blow your mind!
#5 The Adventure Of The Christmas Pudding
After many years of working through the holidays, Hercule Poirot is encouraged to try a nice quiet country Christmas. Once he finally gets talked into going, a group of children on the estate decide to pose a murder to make him feel more at home, that becomes more like a real murder and less like a joke.
This novel is much shorter than Agatha Christie's usual books and with such a playful storyline, would make a great family read-aloud!
#6 Arnold Ytreeide's Advent Series
These books are a series for kids that are broken into chapters to be read each night through December leading up to Christmas. Because there are so many (I think the author has written even more since I read these!), it can become a tradition that your family looks forward to each year!
The series is set during the time of Jesus' birth, and each book is about a child's adventures that end up in Bethlehem, finding Jesus. They are dynamic, keep kids interested and end on a cliff hanger every single night. The story telling is so good that parents will enjoy it as much as the kids, as it brings a new light to the same story you've heard every year.
#7 Christmas Train
I read this book for the first time this year, but Hallmark made a movie version that I watch a couple years ago and loved! When I saw the book at the library a couple weeks ago, I just had to read it and as usual, the book is better than the movie. Hallmark actually did a wonderful job of portraying the quirky characters and the intrigue of train travel, but the book has so much rich backstory that is just so good! Highly recommend!
#8 Christmas At Biltmore
My mom and I have visited Biltmore at Christmas every year for probably the last eight to ten years. We absolutely love it and have the luxury of living only a few hours away from Asheville. First of all, if you haven't visited the house, I would highly recommend going, their Christmas season is simply magical.
A few years ago when my mom found this book, she knew I would eat it up! It has a collection of four stories, each about one of four sisters that work at the house. Because they work in different parts of the house, there is a blend of "upstairs" and "downstairs" characters that create a beautiful blend of Downton Abbey style storytelling with the Vanderbilt family. I love historical fiction and having a book written so well about a location so near where I live is absolutely a win!
#9 The Stupidest Angel
This book was recommended by a friend that I didn't realize enjoyed crude humor, haha. So I bought this one last Christmas because I saw it at a used bookstore and remembered my friend telling me how funny it was. However, I never did get the chance to read it that year. Since I decided to do a Christmas book review post, I pulled it out last week to give it a shot.
My shortened review: if you enjoy National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation humor, you'll enjoy this book. But with that being said, there is a lot of crude humor in it and a lot of language. So if that bothers you to read, then I would suggest you pass over this book.
My long review: This storyline is the epitome of guy humor and I can honestly imagine if the men in my life sat down to make up a "Christmas book" this is what they would come up with! There is a mixture of messy lives all living in a small town, mixed up in each other's messiness, an angel with a mission that ends up causing a zombie attack, a high policeman, a town crazy lady that practices her ninja moves in the woods (comes in handy during the zombie attack), oh and I forgot the covered up murder at the beginning! There are some ridiculously funny elements to this book, but also some inappropriate elements as well. Definitely not a book for everyone, but the author literally says that on the first page after his Acknowledgement.
#10 Christmas At Carnton
I just read this book for the first time, and actually listened to the audio book during Thanksgiving travels. It's a great feel-good Christmas tale, with the heartbroken woman receiving help during the holidays from a handsome single guy. Not super creative, but the story is sweet and told well. It's a very Hallmark-y and happy-ending type of Christmas book.
My only complaint about this book is that some of the language seems modern yet the book is set during the Civil War. That's a pet peeve of mine but if it doesn't bother you and you're looking for a sweet love story, this is a good one for you!