To celebrate the creation of my first ever Reading Retreat this Christmas, I have started a Christmas Reading list – an eclectic collection of books about Christmas: mysteries, romances, classics etc. All books that I have read or would love to read. The plan is to add the top three books, as selected each year, by the guests who attend my Christmas Reading Retreats.
The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
Made redundant from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal. Against her will, Carmen moves in and takes a job at Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh. Will the magical bookshop imbue everyone who enters with Christmas spirit—including Carmen’s querulous family? And then a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop…
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
A historical novel that spans the four Christmases of World War I, Last Christmas in Paris tells the story of Evie and Thomas’s experiences during the war— it explores the devastation of war, the strength of love, and the enduring hope of the Christmas season.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
The tyrannical patriarch Simeon Lee invites his estranged family to his estate for Christmas…but on Christmas Eve, at Gorston Hall, the Lee family’s festivities are shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched scream coming from in a locked bedroom. It’s time for master detective Hercule Poirot to solve this tricky Christmas mystery.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, based on a Russian fairy tale, Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden,) is a vivid story of despair and hope on the Alaska frontier. It depicts a struggle with the elements and the elemental conflict between one’s inner demons and desires, and the miracle of human connection and community support in a spectacular, treacherous and dangerous world.
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
A journalist takes a cross-country train from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles in time for Christmas in search of a story. He’s not exactly thrilled by the idea…but the eclectic people he meets along the way and the lessons he learns make this a Christmas story for the ages.
All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
Sadie and Max are country singers who participate in a show called Starmaker and to increase their popularity and the chance of winning, they are asked to perform together and start dating to keep the fans interested. Faking a relationship until their final performance in the Starmaker Christmas special doesn’t sound too difficult, except for one small obstacle – Sadie and Max can’t stand each other – yet.
Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan
This heartwarming story, set on the remote Scottish island of Mur, follows Flora (accidentally pregnant) and Saif (doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria,) each with trials and tribulations they’ll have to face to have a Highland Christmas worth remembering. Also included are recipes for the Little Beach Street Bakery’s seasonal shortbread, Lanark Blue Scones, and Black Buns.
The Christmas Blessing by Donna VanLiere
As a child, Nathan Andrews lost his mother to cancer. His one wish now is to become a doctor. As a medical student in his third year, Nathan realizes he has much to learn about faith, blessings, and sacrifice. Lessons he will learn from Meghan Sullivan-a young woman born with a hole in her heart that has not kept her from becoming a champion runner. Lessons learned from a young boy named Charlie, who shows Nathan how to live a life of unshakable courage. Together, they will guide Nathan through the darkest period in his life.
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
This collection includes stories about the adventures of a Macy’s elf, the trials and tribulations of competitive families at Christmas, disasters at school Christmas pageants, getting locked out in a snowstorm and many more.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
This is the story, written in Dickensian style, of Charles Dickens’s life as a struggling writer until he hits on the idea for A Christmas Carol. On one of his long night walks, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor launches him on a journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, compassion, friendship, ambition, success and love.
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
After their grown daughter leaves for the nest, Luther and Nora Krank decide to avoid all the Christmas festivities this year to go on a Caribbean cruise. But as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas has consequences and hilarious hijinks follow. Another Christmas book that became a film—this one was the inspiration for Christmas with the Kranks.
The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole
One magical Christmas dress – this is the story of fashionista Meg Julliard’s inheritance of a historic residential building in downtown Chicago. Meg unearths the rich history of crumbling Parkview West, restore it to its former glory and makes it a home not only for herself, but for all the current tenants of the building.
When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan
This haunting murder mystery, set against a Christmas background, brings with it all the conflicting emotions of the season. Jennifer Dean, a young librarian in the idyllic small town of Sweet Haven, is brutally murdered. The community is shocked when her boyfriend, Blake, who is a war hero, confesses to her murder. But something doesn’t sound right to his lawyer. How could a beloved son of this tight-knit town commit such a grisly deed?
Letters From Father Christmas by J R R Tolkien
Letters From Father Christmas is an absolute joy to read, a heartwarming collection written and illustrated by J. R. R. Tolkien between 1920 and 1943 for his children, from Father Christmas. They document the mischievous adventures and misadventures of Father Christmas and his helpers: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents everywhere, how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house, and many others.
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Ilmari Jääskeläinen
If you’re looking for a (seriously weird) winter mystery to curl up with this Christmas, then The Rabbit Back Literature Society will be an interesting read. Ella joins an elite group of writers in the town of Rabbit Back in Finland. She discovers the group members are involved in a mysterious ritual called “The Game” and it seems as if the very words inside books are rearranging themselves. Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried for years start to come to light. . . .
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz
Darcy Fitzwilliam is successful, brilliant, and admittedly,a bit of a snob. She’s never fallen in love. She never goes home for Christmas. But when her mother gets ill, Darcy heads back to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the holidays with her family. Sparks soon fly between Darcy and sardonic carpenter Luke Bennet at the family’s annual holiday party. Will her pride, and his prejudice, keep them from meeting under the mistletoe?
The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Five years ago, after being visited by three ghosts who warn her to change her selfish ways, Holly Chase dies. Reborn as the Ghost from Christmas Past, she now works for the top-secret company Project Scrooge. Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year, everything could change. . .
Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
The Winter Street Inn plays host to Kelly Quinn’s most delightfully dysfunctional family – Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a schoolteacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can’t get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines – in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the Christmas holidays.
If you are interested in retreats, I have just published a workbook on Amazon called Make the Most of Your Next Retreat that I give away free to new subscribers to my Best Retreat Ever mailing list. You can subscribe by clicking here.