Aside from a beach vacation, is there any better time to really indulge a reading hobby than the holidays? With extra time off, you can snuggle up on the couch, grab a new book, and fully immerse yourself in a story. An even better way to dig into the rich plot of a great tale is to share it with a book club. And if your group is looking for something especially festive, these 25 holiday books for book clubs are must reads.
What makes a great holiday read? Well, by my standards it must meet one of three criteria. One, it should take place during winter. A story doesn’t necessarily have to evolve around winter holidays, but if the characters are navigating snow drifts or talking by a hot fire, well that adds to the festive feel. Two, it should evolve around a holiday. Choice two means some of the plot literally takes place around a holiday like Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, or even New Year’s Eve. (I mean, how many romance novels have used Christmas as a meet cute or happily ever after scenario?) And/or three, it should be a hot new read that everyone is talking about. It’s always fun to be on top of a literary trend, especially when you can hash it out with others who have read the same story. Nothing makes for better book club chat than a fun read that’s making headlines.
So, without further ado, here are some festive tales that will put your book club in the holiday spirit.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 A Book For Groundhog’s Day Lovers
Stuck in a Christmas version of
Groundhog’s Day, Mae has to keep repeating the holiday until she can get her true love under the mistletoe. Of course, adventures and hilarity ensue when she wakes up on the way to her favorite spot — a snowy cabin in Utah — over and over again, after she asks the universe to show her something that will make her happy. This is definitely a holiday love story that will keep you cozy this winter.
“Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark ‘downright hilarious’ (Helen Hoang, author of
The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays,” the description reads. 2 A Book For History Buffs
Have you ever wondered where Christmas traditions come from? Why do we celebrate it in December? Has it always been a time of magic and cheer? Find out the answers to your Christmas history questions in this book, and have fun dissecting it with your book club buddies.
says, “As you prepare to make the rounds at holiday cocktail parties and family gatherings this season, now seems like a good time to stock up on conversational Christmas tidbits. Recite these festive facts from New York Post Review Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders (Thomas Dunne Books), out now and you’ll make it through even the most tedious seasonal function.” So not only will you have fun chatting about this with your book club, but you’ll also have fodder to veer conversations away from politics during the holidays. You’re welcome. 3 A Book For Shopping Lovers
Confessions of a Shopaholic will enjoy this holiday-themed book in the series. The story follows Becky as she plans to host her whole family for Christmas, a task that usually falls on her parents. The whole planning becomes a stressful mess and Becky has to figure out how to pull it all off. Boy is this storyline relatable or what? Who hasn’t felt this way when Murphy’s Law falls upon the household right when you need everything to look great and run smoothly? Pop Sugar says Christmas Shopaholic is “funny, charming, and the perfect read to get into the holiday spirit.” So hop to it and add this to your list. 4 A Book For Bookstore Lovers & Punny Names
Noel has taken ownership of her late father’s bookstore, a surprising distraction from the rough patch she’d been going through for quite some time. But, Noel starts receiving anonymous letters addressed to her at the bookstore, and they lead her to an epiphany.
A story about finding yourself after returning to your roots, this story about an editor for a major New York publishing house who was dealing with a recent divorce and loneliness leads to a “Christmas revelation about the healing miracle of hope and forgiveness,” the description reads.
A review from Booklist praises this book full of holiday spirit, saying, “ The Noel Letters is a cozy yet poignant portrait of personal awakening amidst the complexity of grief in estrangement. Evans’ seasoned finesse with his characters’ emotional growth makes Noel a relatable protagonist... A lovely read that beautifully contrasts the mistruths of memory and the redemptive power of new beginnings.” 5 A Book For Fans Of Murder Mysteries
For the book clubs who like a good murder mystery, this novel takes the 12 days of Christmas to a less cheery place when DI James Walker opens an “early Christmas present” that he found on his doorstep that included a promise — 12 days of murder.
When a town is shut down because of a blizzard, everyone is looking over their shoulder because there’s a killer on the loose, and it could be anyone.
Reviewers loved this story for the twist ending that they didn’t see coming, and said The Christmas Killer was comparable to a “contemporary Agatha Christie novel.” 6 A Book For Hallmark Movie Lovers
Riley Kennedy is having a heck of a time at work, because people keep sending her emails to her colleague, Kenney Riley, and vice versa. When the two meet up to discuss the frustrating situation, they get to talking and decide to be each other’s stand-in dates to appease their families during the holiday season. Of course, sparks fly in this romance novel that will be reminiscent of a Hallmark holiday movie.
the book description reads, “Eggnog. Check. Roaring fire. Check. Hot romance novel. Check!” If that doesn’t sound like a Hallmark movie, I don’t know what does. 7 A Book For Dog Lovers
Puppies make everything a little sweeter, right? Well, that’s not exactly what the Goss family thought when a stray pup found its way to them at a time when the last thing they needed was to take in a dog. But, it’s Christmas, and they can’t leave him out in the cold!
is a beautiful, poignant, delightful tale of what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. You’ll find love and tears and laughter ― the ideal holiday read,” the description notes. And A Dog’s Perfect Christmas reviewers call this book “A perfect Christmas gift,” “The perfect holiday book,” and my personal favorite, “A must read — 5 Paws (Perfect 10) story.” 8 A Book For Fans Of Royalty
New mom Flora and her brother Fintan are frantically trying to put the finishing touches on their new hotel before their grand opening party. The story follows them, a kitchen chef (who is secretly a Duke), and Isla, a waitress who is hoping for a bigger and better life now that she’s working at a fancy hotel instead of a diner, as they navigate the hotel’s opening.
While the Duke is trying to experience and learn what it means to work hard for a living he begins to see his current situation — and Isla the waitress — in a new light after being resentful about the situation at first.
Fans of this book call it a “
warm, festive read.” 9 A Book For Fans Of Modern Romance
Kate is fulfilled in her career as a designer and working part-time in her old friend Matt’s bakery, but after a string of bad dates, she’s over the idea of finding true love.
Unbeknownst to her, her best friend signs her up for a dating service that guarantees she'll find love before Christmas, which is just over three weeks away. So, she has 12 dates to get through... surely one of them will be the love of her life, right?
Wrong. Each date is more “disastrous than the one before,” the description reads, and the entire town is keeping tabs on her love life. Will she realize that true love could have possibly been there all along where she wasn’t looking?
10 A Book For Fans Of Baking & Murder
Hannah’s busy supplying her town with pastries from her bakery when a body is found not far from her storefront. Suddenly, the hectic holiday season gets even more hectic. This is a lighthearted murder mystery that also happens to have some delicious recipes sprinkled throughout. Perfect for bookclub, because of course you all absolutely must each prepare one of the recipes from this book and share them while sipping tea or hot chocolate. Oh, and also discuss this book.
It has pretty good reviews, too, so even if the mystery isn’t the best, you’ll still have fun. One Goodreads reviewer said, “This is a cozy mystery, and it is the 26th in the Hannah Swensen series. This book has a cute short mystery, several recipes, and cute characters. I have to say the mystery is not the best. If you are looking for a cute fun book with recipes then this is the book for you.” 11 A Book If You Want To Cry
This book is a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s original
The Wild Swans. It’s set in the 1960s at Christmastime and follows Laura, a teenager who finds a one-winged swan boy and spends her time secretly trying to build him a new wing so he can fly home, and she can distract herself from the constant arguing her grandparents (and guardians) are doing. A Wild Winter Swan offers “Sensitive depictions of generational and coming-of-age conflicts intertwine with whimsy as Maguire touchingly shows how people invoke stories to help elucidate their complicated world,” a Booklist review notes. 12 A Book About Figuring Out Who Murdered A Catholic Priest
A Catholic priest has been killed, and Detective Inspector St. John Strafford is on the case. As he investigates the murder, he sets his sights on one family, the Osbornes, who seem to be keeping a lot of secrets.
“The sinister and unnerving Snow has all the trimmings of a classic country house mystery — body in the library, closed circle of suspects, foul weather — all elevated by Banville's immaculate, penetrating prose,” says
author Peter Swanson in a review. 13 A Book For Southern Elvis Fans
This Christmas novel has a little southern charm, a little mystery, and a lot of Elvis. It follows Weezy, a small shop owner in Savannah who has decked her store out in Elvis-themed Christmas decor for a contest, but finds that a few things have gone missing.
“"A wonderful book, filled with vivid descriptions of Christmas scenes. . . . Charming. . . . This book about compassion, Christmas, and antiques shines as a must-read come holiday time,”
a . Roanoke Times review says 14 A Book For Fans Of A Classic Whodunit
If your book club is looking for a novel that is holiday-themed, a mystery, and has a bit of humor to it, this is your book! It follows Meg, who was working with a non-profit organization that was working to declutter a hoarder’s home before the man was killed. Who did it, and why?
“Caerphilly, with its endearing residents, is the kind of place every cozy fan would like to escape to during stressful times.
Andrews consistently entertains,” A Publisher’s Weekly review says. And stressful times seems to be everyone’s middle name right now, so you should definitely add this book to the book club reading rotation. 15 A Book Featuring The 2 “Rs” — Royals & Romance
Vivian joins her daughter Maddie on a work trip to England. Her original plan was to simply help Maddie with her work and take in the sights, but then she meets a handsome private secretary to the queen and everything changes. The pair kiss under the mistletoe, and holiday love quickly follows.
R gives positive representation of a mature, respectful, sex-positive couple of a certain age,” states oyal Holiday The Washington Post.
Welp, now we know this book will not only be entertaining, but steamy as well, a perfect holiday read to keep you warm on those cold winter nights.
16 A Book About A Princess & Fate
Leo is driving his little sister, Maggie, when she spots a woman in a gorgeous gown trying to hail a cab. Maggie begs her brother to stop for the woman, who she’s certain must be a princess, and he reluctantly stops. As it turns out, the woman is in fact a princess and now she wants Leo to be her personal driver during her trip to the U.S. Fate plays a key role in this sweet Christmas novel.
Sweet and spicy like a candy cane, that is. One reviewer said this book was a “
dirty version of a Hallmark movie.”
“The whole time I was reading, I just wanted this to be a hallmark movie. It has all the callings of one, but then turns into a true romance novel with the steamy scenes,” she says.
17 A Book For Fans Of Twisty Mysteries
If it’s a James Patterson book, you know there will be a twisty mystery involved! This book follows Detective Lindsay Boxer who was originally celebrating the low crime rate thanks to the holiday season, but was quickly brought back to work when a notorious criminal ends up in her neighborhood and it is up to her to catch him. What is already a busy month of the year gets even busier as Boxer tries to solve crimes and catch a criminal mastermind. This book is number 19 in the Women’s Murder Club series, and you definitely will not be disappointed.
18 A Book For Fans Of Love-At-First-Sight Stories One Day in December was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, so you know it’s good! It’s a story of love at first sight through a foggy bus window. Laurie is sure Jack, the man she saw that December day, is the love of her life, and she spends the next year always on the lookout for him. She eventually finds him at a holiday party, and he’s her best friend’ Sarah’s date. Of course.
“What follows for Laurie, Sarah, and Jack is 10 years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered,” the description reads. “
is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.” One Day in December 19 A Book About Falling In Love With Your Roommate
For fans of a romance where friendship can turn into something more, they’ll love
We Met in December, where two London flatmates have an instant connection upon meeting, only for protagonist Jess to find out her crush has a girlfriend. “Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his,” the description reads.
“The cast is utterly relatable, with the two main characters both undertaking life changes to work out what they really want to do in life, and building a beautiful friendship as they go,”
an Amazon reviewer says. “The setting is perfect and wonderfully described, and I love how the story unfolds over the space of a year instead of being a rushed off your feet romance. Will it all work out for them? You need to read it and see.” 20 A Book For Fans of It Takes Two
If you were fans of the movie
It Takes Two, where the Olsen twins switch places and hijinks ensue, you’ll enjoy The Holiday Swap, where one twin sister needs the other to switch places with her to save her career. Thankfully, Charlie’s twin sister Cass needs a change of scenery and agrees to help Charlie with her reality baking show when she got hit on the head during filming and lost her sense of taste and smell.
And since you can’t have a holiday feel-good story without some romance, the twins realize that “temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix,”
the description notes.
Will their swap be disastrous or a holiday miracle?
21 A Book For The Hygge Fans
“Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special,”
per hyggehouse.com, and this delightful book by Rosie Blake tells the story of Clara who is spending her holiday in the gloomy town of Yulethorpe, and Joe, who arrives to help with his mother’s shop. Clara loves the potential she sees in the town, while Joe can’t seem to relax and enjoy the slower, happier, and hygge things in life because he is very busy and important in the city.
The description asks, “Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier,
things in life — naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?” hygge 22 A Book For Fans of Seasonal Fiction & Thrills
As one 5-star review humorously stated, “Want a sweet, cozy Christmas story? Watch a Hallmark movie! This book is a well-written Christmas crime story by a top novelist. That red is blood, not Christmas ribbons. From the first page, the action starts and continues as Christmas Eve hours tick by. Who will be alive to see Christmas?”
Bonnie’s ex-husband Carl isn’t only an abusive and violent drunk, but he’s also an ex-cop, making things incredibly difficult for her when Carl comes to her new life and new family drunk on Christmas Eve to kidnap his son.
This fast-paced thriller contains many plot twists and readers will be shocked and engrossed while reading this story about a battered wife searching for her kidnapped son.
23 A Book About A Dark Angel Getting Even
For fans of suspense and horror — even during the holidays —
Slay Ride by Chris Grabenstein is a must-read thriller following Scott Wilkinson, who finds himself the target of a mentally unstable limousine driver he encountered on a business trip. When he complained about his “white-knuckled drive to Laguardia” to Lucky Seven airport limousine, that driver sought vengeance on Scott — beginning with a kidnapping.
“Get ready for some mayhem this holiday season,”
starts one review. “A non-stop thrill ride from start to finish Slay Ride gives you a front row seat to a heinous set of crimes committed by a very deranged person.” 24 A Book About Romance, Family, & Sisterhood
The Christmas Sisters is “the perfect gift for readers who relish heartwarming tales of sisters and love,” says a Booklist review.
This book is for fans of “tender family drama” who know the ups and downs of sisterhood and family.
The Christmas Sisters provides an intimate look at realistic characters and tells the story of the McBride sisters, and how mama Suzanne is excited to have them all under one roof for Christmas — even if they’re all dealing with their own personal drama, secrets, issues, and potentially life-changing decisions. There’s apparently even a “tragic accident” the family is coping with from 25 years ago.
Amazon reviews were mostly positive, calling
The Christmas Sisters a “wonderful winter read” and a “wonderful book.” Plus, as one reviewer noted, “ It just wouldn't be Christmas without a Sarah Morgan book.” 25 A Book About Starting Over & Finding Yourself
Kristin Hannah’s novel
Comfort & Joy tells the story of Joy Candellaro, a recently divorced woman who can’t bring herself to celebrate what was once her favorite holiday, so she embarks on a trip to the Pacific Northwest and leaves her life behind. Meanwhile another family is dealing with the loss of the wife and mother of the family, and 6-year-old Bobby isn’t coping well — until he meets Joy.
“Kristin Hannah is beloved by readers around the world for her unique blend of powerful emotion and exquisite storytelling,” the description reads. “In
Comfort & Joy, she offers a modern-day fairy tale — the story of a woman who gets a miraculous chance at happiness.” What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
This article was originally published on
Dec. 15, 2018