Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas Novels That Tell Good Stories

I have to admit I'm not a big Hallmark Christmas movie fan. I just can't get past the excessive cheese. Or the bad acting. Or the terrible writing.

But I get why people love them - because they're cozy, and conjure up those feelings of the holidays which make us all feel so great. So in my effort to make myself feel as cozy and festive as I can without the use of Hallmark movies, I've tried to read some cozy and festive books!

I read all these books last December when I realized that I owned a bunch of books that took place around Christmas but had been saving to read. Once I started I had to keep the streak alive so I took some flyers on some other titles and some recommendations from friends. It turned out to be just what I needed to enter the holiday season while I was personally going through some difficult things. Escapist reading can be really therapeutic!

I think this list has something for everyone so I hope one of these books will make your holidays brighter this month.

The Birds of the Air by Alice Thomas Ellis

This novel of a woman who's grieving the death of her son while she celebrates Christmas dinner with her mother and sundry guests sounds as if it would be a downer. But Ellis has such a unique writing voice and style that she brings about a profound vision of life through her often biting wit and observation of the ordinary. If you're dealing with some big stuff while feeling like everyone else is having a postcard holiday this book is for you, the beauty of Christmas seeps through even the most difficult of seasons.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

A Flavia deLuce mystery which if you know me, you know I'm always up for. This was one that I had been saving on my shelf and it really is the perfect cozy read. (I do think that the coziest of books are English manor mysteries, however.) These mysteries centre around the main character who's a precocious, murder solving, chemistry loving, 12 year old who lives in an old English manor so these are never dark and depressing. This story brings the entire town plus a film crew to Buckshaw. Flavia has to solve a murder while trying to trap St. Nick on the roof on Christmas Eve, so there's a lot of fun in the solving.

Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah

I know Kristin Hannah has a DEVOTED fan base, but I always like to point out that she got her start writing romance novels. This is a sweet romance that doesn't get too racy and has an element of amnesia which helps it feel a bit more substantial than a Hallmark movie. Hannah draws two random characters together while putting them in a "festive" setting to make you want to keep turning the pages to see if they couple will get together in time for Christmas. A light read if you're looking for something to fit in on a flight or road trip this Christmas vacation, but definitely not something that's well written - full disclosure!

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Every once in a while you need to read an old lady novel. I firmly believe this to be true, and Rosamund Pilcher always delivers. This story brings together two older characters, one of whom has lost his wife and daughter. The two set up a house for the winter in Scotland and strangers become friends as they help others and themselves heal from devastating losses.

A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer

A mystery by Georgette Heyer who we all know and love for her regency novels. This novel hits all the cozy marks for taking place in an English country house in the 30's over Christmas, and no one can leave because everyone's a suspect! While I thought this moved fairly slowly for a mystery, it did have an atmospheric quality that's festive even though murder is involved.

And a bonus non-fiction pick:

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Lee Standiford

A nonfiction book on Dickens and his writing of A Christmas Carol was perfect for me who eats up biographies of authors. I enjoyed learning the fun tidbits like Dickens was going broke and really needed to make some quick money, and the immense cultural impact this story had upon publication. A short read, just like the classic story it pulls the curtain back on.

Hope these reads bring you a very, merry Christmas!

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