Festive Reading: 10 Warming Books to Enjoy by the Christmas Tree

After postponing the Christmas music, mince pies and decorating for a few weeks later than most, I’m finally letting myself enjoy the run-up to Christmas. And what goes best with a glass of mulled wine? A good book, of course. Here are a few cheery, uplifting and warming books (in my opinion – feel free to contest) to enjoy over the next few weeks.

1. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Whether it’s the TV adaptation or the book with its wonderful drawings, The Snowman epitomises childhood Christmas memories for me. If it brings back happy memories for you too, I say find a copy for your living room this Christmas.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Image source.

2. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

A book about friendship, letters and great reading material that I think all worshippers of the written word should dedicate a few hours to. A warming novel that reminds me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (another great book!)

84 Charing Cross Road, 1969

3. The Five Orange Pips and Other Cases by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A brilliant collection of Sherlock Holmes stories to help us wind down this winter, and that allows us, like Sherlock, to create a balance between using our intellectual talents and resting on a good sofa in a warm sitting room.

4. The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language

The first non-fiction choice on this list, but, as a celebration of etymology with lots of quirky facts and peculiar words, it’s a great choice for fiction fans.

5. A Christmas Tree by Charles Dickens

One of the lesser known stories from Dickens’s array of Christmas fiction, the warming and festive descriptions in the book make it a refreshing, although much more concise, alternative to Dickens’s most popular story for the Christmas season.

Albert Chevallier Tayler, The Christmas Tree (1911)

6. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Yes, the title is quite pessimistic, but it’s a superb celebration of life, family and reading that is one of my favourite choices for Christmas reading. A novel I’d do well to read again (and soon, if possible!)

7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

A landmark children’s fiction series that should by all means be revisited in adulthood!

Novels on my sofa reading pile 

(which may or may not be good festive fireside reading)

8. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.” Goodreads

9. How to be Both by Ali Smith

“Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.” The Man Booker Prize

10. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

“An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.” Goodreads

Other noteworthy titles

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Do you tailor your reading choices around Christmas? Let me know what you’re reading (or planning to read) in the comments below!

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It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.

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