9 Wintry YA Books to Cozy Up With Over the Holidays
Temperatures are dropping and snow is starting to fall. Christmas carols you heard at the department stores in October are now relevant. The holidays are here. And though, yes, the holidays are a time of love and giving, they're also a time of incredible stress. Searching for the perfect gifts, RSVPs to all the gatherings, travel in the wintry weather. So when you're finally at your Christmas destination, all of the halls have been decked, and all of the gifts have been unwrapped, pour yourself a glass of hot cocoa or eggnog (even throw in a little brandy) and cozy up by the fire with one of these wintry YA books.
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'Dash & Lily's Book of Dares' by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan previously collaborated on Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and their Christmassy novel echoes that story. Dash stumbles across Lily’s red notebook she she left in her favorite bookstore, and it’s filled with challenges and dares. Soon, the two are racing around New York City in late December to complete them. It’s madcap and fun and a perfect inspiration for Christmas break adventures.
'Let It Snow' by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
This collaborative book features three interconnected novellas, all set in the same small Southern town on Christmas Eve. There’s a blizzard outside, but Green, Johnson, and Myracle’s cast of characters set out on their own adventures before all linking back together at a Starbucks on Christmas. Among the cast, here are guy friends who band together to meet a group of stranded cheerleaders, so the stories are both funny and romantic, and the entire book has a touch of the Love, Actually spark.
'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of the four March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy — and their mother Marmee is a perfect read-aloud Christmas book after everyone has had their share of dinner. The story is well known — handsome Laurie, the betrayals, the war, and poor, poor Beth — but it’s probably been a while since we’ve all sat down and read it again. Though the March family’s Christmas experience may make you feel a little guilty for your several pieces of pie.
'Mistletoe' by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, and Nina Malkin
Mistletoe’s four Christmas stories will have you steaming up alongside your mug of hot cocoa. Each author contributed a holiday romance story to the book, complete with handsome ski instructors, a twist on O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, and snuggling by the fireplace. Where’s the mistletoe, anyway?
'Frost' by Kate Avery Ellison
Grab your warmest quilt, because Kate Avery Ellison’s novel Frost will chill your bones. Not a Christmas novel, but definitely a winter read, as Ellison tells the tale of an ice-covered world plagued by monsters. After Lia’s parents are killed by monsters, she sets off in the freezing cold to save her siblings. This pick is for readers looking for a non-traditional winter book that will make you feel thankful for your cozy digs — even if you’re at your in-laws’ house.
'What Child Is This?' by Caroline B. Cooney
Caroline B. Cooney, of The Face on a Milk Carton fame, continues her theme of foster and adopted children in her Christmas novel What Child is This? When Katie, a foster child, makes a wish to hang in a restaurant’s Christmas tree for needy children, she asks for a family. Cooney’s novel is told from several perspectives of people who read Katie’s wish, each of whom are going through their own struggles around the holiday. The story can be sad, but it will warm your heart in the winter months.
'Ex-Mas' by Kate Brian
Sometimes after all the stress of the holidays, you need a wind-down book. And Kate Brian’s Ex-Mas does the job perfectly. Teenager Lila’s parents take off for Christmas, leaving her at home with her younger brother. But when her brother learns about global warming, he runs away on a mission to save Santa from the melting North Pole. The other problem? He’s with his best friend, whose older brother is Lila’s ex-boyfriend. He and Lila have to stand each other’s company as they try to catch up to their brothers.
'Looking For Alaska' by John Green
While not really a “Christmas” novel, John Green’s story literally centers on a day in early January, with the novel split into parts depicting what happened before and what happened afterward. There’s a wintry feeling to the book that will have you glad to be snuggled up in a blanket by the fire — and don’t expect to leave soon; Green’s story is hard to put down. Green’s novel about 16-year-old Miles and a girl, Alaska, he meets at boarding school won too many awards to count when it came out last year, and it earned the lot of them.
'Winter Town' by Stephen Emond
This illustrated YA novel is set during Christmas — the time, once a year, when childhood friends Evan and Lucy meet up with each other. Lucy’s parents divorced and her mother moved the rebellious child from New York, with Evan, to Atlanta, but over Christmas she always visits her father. The Christmas before Lucy and Evan set off for college is a transformative one, and they help each other discover themselves while learning about art (creating black-and-white comics that appear in the book) and the pressures of growing up.