10 Books To Get You Excited For Christmas
You've finished all the excess Halloween candy. You've eaten your last turkey sandwich (although somehow there is still quite a lot of leftover stuffing). It's finally December, and that means it's once again socially acceptable to wear ugly sweaters, have sugar cookies for lunch, and put a tree in your living room.
And what better way to greet the holiday season than curling up with a big mug of hot chocolate and a good book while you blast Greensleeves? (This is also a pretty solid strategy if you want to appear festive while you avoid helping your family and/or roommates put up the tree.) There are so many classic holiday stories from childhood to revisit, and so many new Yuletide novels to get acquainted with. Whether you're all about those heartwarming Christmas tales where ghosts use scare tactics to make old men more generous, or you like a slightly more tongue-in-cheek take on our modern Holiday obsession, there's something out there to get you in the mood for ice skating and strategically placed mistletoe. No matter how you like to celebrate the holidays, these books will leave you feeling jolly:
1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
It doesn't get much more classic than this. After all, what says Christmas more than ghosts terrorizing an elderly man? It's an old one, but it still holds up (and it's not very long). You can roll your eyes and say humbug all you like, but I dare you to read this book and not feel all warm and fuzzy inside when Tiny Tim doesn't die (spoiler alert). Although if you, like me, grew up with the Muppets movie version, it's a little impossible not to imagine most of the characters as beloved puppets.
2. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
If heartwarming Victorian Christmases don't really do it for you, try David Sedaris. His collection of personal essays and short fiction is the exact right blend of wry wit and begrudging holiday cheer. The first essay in this book, "Santaland Diaries," is undoubtedly one of the best humor essays of the modern era, detailing Sedaris's time as an elf in Macy's Santaland. If you need a break from saccharine Christmas hype, this book gives the holidays a satirical twist.
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
You're never too old to revisit Narnia. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has everything that made Christmas so magical when you were a kid: snowy adventures, talking animals, Santa Claus (fine, Father Christmas), and an evil witch who wants to abduct your brother. It's good old fashioned fantasy, and it perfectly captures a certain kind of childhood enchantment (as well as the eternal struggle between good and evil).
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman would probably not be happy to be listed so close to C.S. Lewis. The Golden Compass, is, in many ways, the anti-Narnia. So if organized religion is not so much your thing, but you would still like a wintry adventure with children and large, furry, talking predators, try The Golden Compass. It's got all the excitement, magic, witches, and theological critique you could ever want in a holiday adventure.
5. In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd
If you've ever stumbled across a television on Christmas Day, you're probably familiar with the movie A Christmas Story (it's the one where the dad gets a lamp shaped like a leg). Well, this is the book that spawned A Christmas Story, but Jean Shepherd includes so much more in his wildly witty memoir of growing up in Indiana. Shepherd spins the minutiae of his All-American childhood into a comedic masterpiece.
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Really, any Harry Potter book is perfect for Christmas (or for Thanksgiving, or Valentine's Day, or Arbor Day... or any other day, really). But The Goblet of Fire has the Yule Ball, so it wins out for awkward teenage holiday goodness. J.K. Rowling's descriptions of the Hogwarts Christmas decorations, the Christmas feasts, and the snowy castle grounds just have a way of putting you in the perfect mood for fireplaces and heavy eating. It's an extremely cozy Christmas read (as long as you ignore all the death and despair at the end of the book).
7. The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
Seven-year-old Joshua Barker just has one Christmas wish: that Santa Claus come back from the dead. Yup, little Joshua has witnessed Santa getting bumped off, and now it's up to one angel to bring Christmas cheer back to the town of Pine Cove. Unfortunately, this is not the most intellectually inclined angel, and things quickly descend into Christmas-themed zombie madness. Ridiculous holiday nonsense, and a whole lot of fun to read.
8. Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
What's Christmas without a good murder mystery? Agatha Christie is a master of her genre, and Hercule Poirot's Christmas is no exception. Mustachioed detective Hercule Poirot must solve a bloody, locked-room murder in an English country manor house. The members of this manor house family, however, are all playing a sadistic game with each other's emotions. As usual, Christie takes her readers on several twists and turns before a landing on very satisfying solution.
9. Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus edited by Kate Wolford
Santa Claus is old news. But are you familiar with Krampus? The European "Christmas Devil" who beats children with sticks and drags them to hell? Krampusnacht is a collection of 12 Krampus stories, featuring everyone's favorite Christmas monster. Stories range from Krampus in ancient Europe to Krampus in modern-day suburbia, with plenty of holiday horror in between. Check it out for the terrifying Christmas demon you never knew you wanted to read about.
10. It's A Magical World: A Calvin & Hobbes Collection by Bill Watterson
If Calvin & Hobbes can't warm your heart for the holidays, I don't know what can. This collection might not be all about Christmas from beginning to end, but Bill Watterson's holiday comic strips are pure magic. Calvin & Hobbes is always there when you need an injection of joy and humor. His comics are written with great intelligence and drawn beautifully, and Calvin's snowman house of horror will surely be an inspiration if you have a white Christmas.
Images: Maegan Tintari/Flickr, Giphy