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If you’re craving a good cozy Christmas book, but you don’t know where to start, you have come to the right place.
I don’t know exactly why, but I love Christmas novels. And not just during the Christmas season. I have found that Christmas novels can be that perfect comfort read for me throughout the year when I need a book that’s going to be a salve for the soul. (I know it sounds cheesy, but I also know you know what I’m talking about.)
I define a contemporary Christmas novel as a book that takes place in our modern age with modern conveniences.
These books represent a variety of genres from mystery to romance.
Some of the books on this list might be categorized as contemporary classics, but I still think they belong in this category.
I really hope you find the Contemporary Christmas novel that is the perfect escape for you this Christmas season. There are lots of options below!
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Contemporary Christmas Novels
I have never read Mary Kay Andrews before, but many readers say her Christmas novels are must reads, which is why I’m excited to dive in with Bright Lights, Big Christmas this year. North Carolina native Kerry Tolliver is heading for the big city this holiday season to help her brother sell Christmas trees to to New Yorkers in Greenwich Village. As she gets to know and develops relationships with the locals, she’s called to use her “country know-how” after an elderly local is missing. In the meantime, she also starting to develop feelings for local single-dad, Patrick. Early readers say this book is “another homerun” from Andrews and “the perfect escape.” Sounds perfect for the holidays!
This is a humorous mystery novella set during the Christmas season. The Christmas Appeal follows the tensions, power struggles, and secrets within a small English town’s community theater group as they plan for their annual Christmas play. The story is told entirely through emails, text messages, and instant messages, which makes readers feel like they are eavesdropping on the characters as they interact and gossip with and about one another. As the plot unfolds, readers become like investigators, piecing together the story through these communications. The book also includes funny exchanges and mix-ups that will have you laughing out loud. And why did a long-dead Santa just fall out of a beanstalk prop. You will want to find out!
This book has a very Skipping Christmas vibe to it, but instead leaving town, this family tries to keep Christmas at bay from the comfort of their home. The Sullivans have an agreement — it’s fine if other families want to celebrate Christmas, but it’s not for us. So no Christmas cookies, no Christmas carols, no mistletoe, and no Christmas parties. Which is why they are surprised when for 12 straight days, guests start showing up at their house for a Christmas party they didn’t know they were throwing. One of the reasons the Sullivans can’t stand the sight of Christmas is because the dad is still dealing with the grief from losing his wife, even though its been several years. The result of the surprise Christmas is that it shows how something messy is just what this family needs to bring it back together again. Fans say to expect some magical realism and British humor that will make you laugh out loud.
Looking for a quick read for Christmas? This one is only 45 pages. Online, her name is Sugarplum Fairy; in real life, her name is Debbie Hutchins. Debbie is an online reseller who specializes in vintage Christmas items she buys and resells online. Her latest find is a collection of nutcracker ornaments, which reminds her of the nutcracker ornaments she had when she was a child. It also reminds her of how she was a fidgety tomboy who couldn’t sit still, but her grandmother took her to see the nutcracker ballet at a young age — needless to say, she was mesmerized. She’s about to sell the ornaments to an earnest buyer when she finds a notes tucked underneath them from a great-grandmother to her great-grandson. Instead of selling them, she decides to find the original owners. Fans say this book is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol because it is a story about a heart grown cold that starts to thaw.
Note: This book is only available on Kindle.
Fun fact: Viola Shipman is a pseudonym. The real author is Wade Rouse. Wade says Viola Shipman was his grandmother’s name. You can read more about him here.
Christmas by the Book has been described as a “Christmas tale for book lovers.” Two booksellers in a small English town decide to cheer up the locals by making anonymous book deliveries. (Ummm . . . sign me up for that!) They don’t just pick recipients at random, they are looking for those who are especially struggling this year. And they are trying to save their struggling bookstore at the same time. Can they succeed in spreading some joy through books and save their bookstore at the same time? I love heart-warming stories like this for the holiday season.
Looking for a sprinkle of magic this festive season? Meet Meg Julliard. The last place she ever dreamt of spending her Christmas is in the windy city of Chicago, managing an apartment building that her late father left behind. Her passion lies in fashion design, yet here she is, juggling the never-ending demands of her tenants. Meg develops an unexpected friendship with Ellie, one of her elderly tenants. Ellie gives Meg a unique dress, which she decides to don for the building’s much-anticipated Christmas bash. There’s even a handsome handyman in the mix. So, brace yourself for a heartwarming tale packed with Christmas cheer, fashion, and a dash of romance.
There’s something about celebrating Christmas in Edinburgh, Scotland that seems just magical. If that’s a city you’d love to take a literary trip to this Christmas, then this sweet book is for you. Jenny Colgan books always have such an endearing quality to them, and this one is no exception. I love stories about women who seem a bit lost (and are maybe a bit of a hot-mess) who find their way. The Christmas Bookshop is one of those stories. There is also a sweet romance to enjoy and more. I enjoyed this one so much last December, I might reread it this year.
If you love stories about complex family relationships, this one is for you. After all, nothing makes us face our family and all the goes with it like the holidays, does it? Kelley Quinn is the father of four adult children and the owner of the Winter Street Inn in Nantucket. Kelley has three children that he had with his first wife Margaret, who are all in the middle of their own dramas. And he has one son with his current wife Mitzi, who is unreachable on the frontlines in Afghanistan. But Mitzi has apparently fallen for the man who plays Santa at the annual Christmas party. This book has a lot going on as the Quinn family is trying to get through Christmas. Fans describe this one as a fun story that will hold your attention until the end.
This is the first book in a four-book series.
For fans of magical realism. From the publisher: “Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.”
This book very much has A Christmas Carol vibe to it. Big Earl is an angry man living on the streets of Portland, Oregon when he meets Gideon, who is a seven year old girl battling leukemia. She is determined to befriend Earl even though he doesn’t want any part of it. Earl hasn’t always lived on the streets. His life took a turn for the worse 10 years earlier when his wife and daughter died, and he has never gotten over it. Is Earl the miracle that Gideon has been praying for? Fans say to keep the tissues handy because this one is a tear-jerker.
While Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year, it can also be one of the most stressful. So I can’t blame the Kranks for wanting to take a year off from the craziness of it all and go on a Caribbean cruise instead. Will they be glad they decided to skip Christmas or will they live to regret it? The only way to find out is to read this book, which comes with a surprising side of humor.
This book was made into a movie in 2004 that goes by the name Christmas with the Kranks.
From the publisher: “Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures, and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.”
This is one of my favorite books I read all year. I love found-family stories, and Winter Solstice is a great example of that literary trope. The book focuses on different characters that I couldn’t imagine how they could end up being connected, but then they come together in just the right way. But let me warn you that this book will break your heart before it gets put back together again. There is an important content warning I feel is important to mention because it does include the sudden death of a child.
The Christmas Box is considered “the most popular holiday take since Tiny Tim,” according to Newsweek. While Richard Paul Evans has gone on to write many other books, this was his debut. The Christmas Box is the story of a young family who moves in with a widows to be her caretakers. While they are taking care of her, it’s the widow who has an important message to share. You’ll have to read The Christmas Box to find out.
I’ll be honest. The premise of this one sounds a bit cheesy, but I’m intrigued by the fact that so many people say they love this book (and the whole series), and they re-read it every year. For a book to generate that kind of loyalty, it must have something going for it. Here’s a summary: The angel Gabriel commissions three angels, whose names are Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy, to answer the prayers of three different people. BUT it can’t just be an answer to a prayer, they must also teach each person a lesson.
This is the first book in a seven book Angels Everywhere series.
I know there are so many good choices. What Contemporary Christmas novels are you going to pick up this year?