Whether you like it or not, the nights are drawing in and Christmas is creeping ever closer. It’s time to wrap your presents, deck the halls and then snuggle up in front of the fire with a good book. Don’t be a Scrooge, get into the seasonal swing of things and most importantly of all – enjoy the colder nights by snuggling up to a great read! Here are my top 10 works of the best Christmas books.
The Christmas Mystery is a wonderfully multi-layered retelling of the nativity by the man who made philosophy fun for kids with the novel Sophie’s World. When Elisabeth disappears from her home in Norway, she finds that she has not only travelled thousands of miles away but also thousands of years back in time where she encounters the holy family. Meanwhile, in modern Norway, Joachim is given a strange advent calendar which gradually unveils Elisabeth’s story behind each window. The 24 beautifully crafted chapters recapture some of the lost innocence of Christmas and like every good advent calendar, you will have to stop yourself from peeking at the treats ahead!
The Night Before Christmas is a rom-com waiting to happen if ever there was one, with more than a touch of Love Actually within it. The action takes place over one week, when unlucky-in-love Lydia is invited to spend Christmas with some of her oldest friends in the idyllic setting of the Lake District. It sounds blissful until she finds herself snowed in with her boyfriend, ex-lover and a handsome stranger. Bailey’s warm and funny style emulates a truly Christmassy glow and she manages to weave an engaging story that would be perfect to delve into when you’re recovering from the festive excesses on Boxing Day.
A simply enchanting tale of a young boy whisked away on a train ride to meet Father Christmas himself on Christmas Eve. Despite his friends’ doubts he still believes in the magic surrounding the North Pole and as such he is rewarded with the choice of any gift he likes from the sleigh. Much to most children’s surprise he decides on a bell. This is a simple but classic story that will continue to delight children and parents with its dream-like illustrations and heart warming message.
I’m sure everyone can recite the first few lines but it is worth rediscovering the rest of this classic poem. It has remained a firm favourite for so many children over the years because it manages to capture the magic of the most exciting day of the year- Christmas Eve. The wonderful lyrical verse is perfect for reading at bedtimes in the run up to the big day and the beautiful illustrations by Chris Birmingham are timeless.
The Grinch is a creature who hates everything and he hates Christmas above all else. He has a dastardly plan to dress up as a sinister Santa and steal the Whos’ presents to put a stop to the merriment once and for all. Little does he know it will take more than that to cancel Christmas! Featuring the famous and utterly quotable rhyming style as well as the spidery illustrations of Dr Seuss, The Grinch who stole Christmas is a reincarnation of the classic character of Mr Scrooge and reminds a new generation of readers about the season of goodwill and the true meaning of Christmas.
If you are one of those people who dreads Christmas rolling around each year and the idea of festive cheer makes you feel a bit nauseous then perhaps this will be a suitable stocking filler. With 26 mysterious short stories by the likes of Agatha Christie, Woody Allen and Arthur Conan Doyle, this collection is sure to provide a welcome relief from seasonal stresses, whilst also appealing to readers who can’t get enough of crime fiction, even at Christmas! There are definitely some killer and some filler stories in this collection but overall a great alternative Yuletide read.
Happy Hogswatch everyone! That is to say, Merry Christmas of course in the 20th book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The Auditors who are in charge of the whole universe want the Hogfather removed. However, Death is having none of it, he dons a fake beard and a red suit and vows to act as the Hogfather’s replacement and save Hogswatch himself. Rather surprisingly Death is the star of the show and has a cracking sense of humour. This is a surreal take on Christmas and another absurd but marvellous Pratchett masterpiece.
A Christmas Carol is definitely one of the most well-known and best feel-good festive reads ever written. Dickens‘ gift for character writing is unparalleled and the iconic characters of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim have become synonymous with this time of year. When Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of his business partner, he is warned that he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in a bid to make him change his ways. As always, the descriptions of Victorian London are fascinating, but it is the transformation of Scrooge’s character and the prevailing theme of goodwill to all men which continues to captivate every generation.
Although it is usually children who write letters to Father Christmas, Tolkien’s children must have been especially good because every year they received intricately illustrated and specially stamped letters from the North Pole. They detailed the life of Santa himself and included fantastic descriptions of the clumsy North Polar Bear, the elves and the famous Goblin wars. This is an enchanting precursor to The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings trilogy and would be perfectly suited to a younger audience of potential fantasy fans.
The simultaneously beautiful and melancholic illustrations of Raymond Briggs are enough to ignite the imagination…
The Snowman tells the story of a young boy who, having spent a winter’s day building a snowman, looks out of his window at bedtime to find that his creation has come to life. The next day he shows the snowman around his house and in return his new friend takes him on a magical trip flying through the night sky. However, when the boy comes downstairs the next morning, he is horrified to see that the snowman has melted away. Was it all a dream? Although the top Christmas book does not contain any words, the simultaneously beautiful and melancholic soft pastel illustrations of Raymond Briggs are enough to ignite the imagination and parents and children will enjoy telling the story their own way.
I hope you enjoyed my best Christmas books list – Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!