There’s nothing like cozying up with a good book, a soft blanket, and a cup of hot cocoa during the winter and holiday season (bonus points if your Christmas tree is in your direct line of sight or if you have the fireplace going). I’m hoping to spend a lot of my spare time reading this winter, so I made a list of the books (mostly feel-good, holiday love stories) that will be filling up my Kindle app in the coming months.
1. Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
“On a snowy evening in March, thirty-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone.
All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence.
With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.”
– Eight Perfect Hours, Lia Louis, Simon and Schuster, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2021, Website
2. The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews
“When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.
At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?
Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.”
– The Santa Suit, Mary Kay Andrews, Macmillan Publishers, St. Martin’s Press, 2021, Website
3. It Started with a Dog by Julia London
“All Harper Thompson wants for Christmas is the huge promotion she’s worked so hard for—which she should get, as long as her launch of the hip new coffeehouse, Deja Brew, goes according to plan. Jonah Rogers is trying to save his family’s coffee shop, Lucky Star, from going out of business, which will be tough with the brand-new Deja Brew opening across the street.
When Jonah and Harper meet for the first time after accidentally swapping phones, their chemistry is as electric as a strand of Christmas lights. He’s a tall, handsome, compassionate hunk of engineer, and she’s an entrepreneur whose zest for life is very sexy. They love all the same things, like scary movies, greasy food—and most of all, dogs. It’s a match made in heaven…until Jonah finds out that Harper’s the one about to put him out of business.
Only one coffee shop likely can survive, and a competition of one-upmanship ensues in a battle of the brews. The paws really come out when the local rescue shelter has a fundraiser where local businesses foster dogs, and patrons vote with their dollars for their favorite pup. Harper takes in an adorable old bulldog on behalf of Deja Brew, while Jonah fosters a perky three-legged dachshund for Lucky Star. As the excitement builds for who will be crowned King Mutt and king of the coffee hill, Harper and Jonah must decide if their connection was all steam or if they are the perfect blend.”
– It Started with a Dog, Julia London, Penguin Random House, Berkley, 2021, Website
4. A Magical New York Christmas: A Novel by Anita Hughes
“It’s Christmas week when 26-year-old Sabrina Post knocks on the door of the Vanderbilt suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, ready to accept the ghostwriting position for the memoir of Grayson Westcott—a famous art dealer.
A struggling journalist, Sabrina can’t believe her luck: a paycheck and six nights in her own suite at the Plaza. She feels like Eloise, the heroine from her favorite children’s books. To make the job even more exciting, Grayson recounts how he worked as a butler at the Plaza sixty years ago for none other than the author of the Eloise books, Kay Thompson.
What promises to be a perfect week is complicated when Sabrina meets Ian Wentworth, a handsome British visitor, at the hotel bar. When Ian assumes Sabrina is another wealthy guest at the hotel, she doesn’t correct him —a decision she doesn’t regret after learning that Ian is a member of the British aristocracy. But, things are not what they seem. The truth is: Ian is not a wealthy lord; he’s actually the personal secretary of Lord Spencer Braxton.
As the week unfolds, will Sabrina and Ian learn the truth about one another?
Filled with the magic that can only be found at the Plaza Hotel during the holidays, and revealing facts about the author of the Eloise books, Anita Hughes’s A Magical New York Christmas is both a holiday treat and a heartwarming story that reminds us that falling in love is the greatest miracle of all.”
– A Magical New York Christmas: A Novel, Anita Hughes, Macmillan Publishers, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2021, Website
5. One Day in December by Josie Silver
“Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December 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, Josie Silver, Penguin Random House, Ballantine Books, 2018, Website
6. This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
“Minnie Cooper knows two things with certainty: that her New Year’s birthday is unlucky, and that it’s all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she’s never met. Their mothers gave birth to them at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year’s Day, but Quinn was given the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990–and the name Minnie was meant to have, as well. With luck like that, it’s no wonder each of her birthdays has been more of a disaster than the one before.
When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year’s party on their mutual thirtieth birthday, she sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favor him. The gorgeous, charming business owner truly seems to have it all–while Minnie’s on the brink of losing her pie-making company and her home. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each fraught encounter leaves them both wanting more?”
– This Time Next Year, Sophie Cousens Penguin Random House, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020, Website
7. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
“When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say ‘Bah, humbug.’ The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?
Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . .”
– The Twelve Dates of Christmas, Jenny Bayliss, Penguin Random House, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020, Website
8. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
“On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…”
– The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Cynthia Hand Harper Collins Publisers, 2018, Website
9. Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
“’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.
Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.”
– Starry Night, Debbie Macomber, Penguin Random House, Ballantine Books, 2014, Website
10. Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
“‘Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness—even if that only means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains.
But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents hosting, carols playing on repeat, her mother pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors coming ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong?
Becky’s sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband insists that he just wants aftershave (again), and little Minnie needs a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend–turned–rock star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her bighearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky wonders if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all.”
– Christmas Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella, Penguin Random House, Dial Press Trade, 2020, Website
Since the holidays can be the busiest time of the year, I’m not quite sure I’ll check off each one on the list, but I’ll be trying (with cocoa in one hand and this book in the other).
If you aren’t much of a bookworm but are trying to make more time for reading, try picking out one book from this list to finish before the end of the year!
Let me know in the comments if you read or have already read any of these books! Holiday book club, anyone?