Christmas Books


Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

It’s time for Christmas lights, peppermint-flavored everything, Christmas carols, fudge, peanut brittle, and mistletoe. This season can be a hectic one, and my favorite way to counter that craziness is to keep my evenings to myself.

It’s so easy to commit to caroling, numberless Christmas parties at work, and shopping trips with friends, but I prefer wiggle out if I can manage it. Instead, I keep my evenings for quiet moments. Wrapping presents (or making them), baking cookies, or—best of all—reading.

My favorite nights are the ones when I light candles and spend the evening curled up with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, a fire in my wood stove, and a good book. My kitty will come read with me too, and is there anything better on a cold winter night than a cat purring in your lap?

Choosing books that fit perfectly with a night like this one isn’t easy, but some of my favorites to pair with a roaring fire and a cup of good cocoa are:

A Christmas Carol

This charming classic has been adapted into plays, a million different movies, and episodes of every cartoon you can think of, but have you ever read the original story by Charles Dickens? I hadn’t—at least, not until a few years ago. Then, I was utterly blown away by a story for the ages—and one that fully deserves the notary that it has obtained over the years.

Little House in the Big Woods

Family and Christmas go hand in hand, and I can’t think of a better story than Little House in the Big Woods for both. This sweet book encompasses an entire year of Laura Ingalls life as a very young girl—including Christmas in the big woods. Her descriptions of life in the 1800s and of their Christmas together as a family are vivid and beautiful, a definite addition to any Christmas evening.

Little Women

Comfort books are a must for me during the craziness of the Christmas season, and Little Women is high on that list. The book spans a large number of years in the lives of the March sisters, and their Christmas seasons are simple, heartfelt, and filled with a richness that illustrates the depth of their regard for each other and the community around them.

The Tailor of Gloucester

Beatrix Potter weaves magic with her illustrated stories, and The Tailor of Gloucester is—in my opinion—one of her finest books. This Christmas tale has charm, compassion, a naughty cat, and a lovely, inspiring ending. Her pictures are vivid and heartwarming, and it’s a book I will be reading aloud and to myself for many years to come.

Christmas is a season for wonder and thankfulness, for pausing to reflect, and for appreciating the quiet moments. These books carry a thousand memories of years past, and I will continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

A Christmas Carol

It is not Christmas.

I am aware of that, thank you very much.

Nor am I generally the type of person to be singing Christmas carols in July or leaving my Christmas lights up all year round.

(Okay, you caught me. I totally am.)


But, if we are going to be fair and totally above board with everything, I did, in fact, read this book around Christmas time. I had seen plays, watched endless numbers of movie adaptions, and listened to radio productions, but never actually read the book. So I thought it was about time I picked it up.

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Despite my heightened expectations, A Christmas Carol was everything I hoped it would be and more. Charles Dickens (also the author of A Tale of Two Cities, which I reviewed last week) is an incredibly insightful, interesting author with a solid grasp of character, prose, and story. From the first words to the last, this charming Christmas classic held me spellbound, and more than ever aware of how watered down and cliched this story has become. The powerful classic is now a children’s fairytale, something pulled out at Christmas time and ignored otherwise.

And yet, some renditions still hold true to the spirit behind this beautiful story. I have seen plays—and movies—that, although not perfect, held very well to the original storyline and managed to convey the truth of what Dickens put onto the page.

All of us, of course, know the story of the crotchety, miserly Scrooge, who hated Christmas, hated people, and loved nothing but his money and his business, if that can be called love. His experiences with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future are familiar to many. Even the tale of Tiny Tim, the ailing son of his overworked and woefully underpaid assistant, Bob Cratchit, is well known and loved.

And yet, for the sake of time, many stories have cut out much of Scrooge’s journey with the spirits, his return to a childhood marred by neglect and illness, the memories of a woman he loved and longed to see at ease and with plenty, and yet lost because of his obsession with the wealth he was determined to give her. Each of the spirits show him another portion of his life, either past, present, or future, and glimpsed from the outside, instead of through a veil of wealth and greed, Scrooge begins to understand how cold, useless, and unfeeling the wealth that he was massed and hoarded over his long life has become. How much he has missed through his miserly, clutching behavior, and how little time he still has left to amend his past.

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A Christmas Carol has always been one of my favorite stories, and since reading the book, I treasure it all the more. If you have never picked up the unabridged classic and read it front to back, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will not be disappointed.

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

The bell struck twelve.