Season’s Readings: 10 Ultimate Christmas Books for Adults

Who says Christmas stories are just for kids? Certainly not us. As the festive season rolls in, bringing with it a sleigh-load of shopping, baking, and the inevitable awkward family gatherings, it’s important to find your own slice of holiday cheer. And what better way than curling up with a book that isn’t adorned with pictures of Santa and his reindeer? In this list, we’re bypassing the jingle-bell-laden children’s classics in favor of tales that resonate with us grown-ups. From mysteries that would make even Santa scratch his beard in confusion, to heartwarming sagas warmer than your grandma’s knitted socks, we’ve compiled the top Christmas reads for adults. So, grab a cup of something warm (and perhaps mildly spiked), and prepare to meet a lineup of books that prove once and for all that Christmas isn’t just child’s play.

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
  • The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  • Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  • The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
  • Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
  • A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Let’s kick things off with the granddaddy of Christmas tales, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” This isn’t just a story; it’s a holiday institution, the Christmas turkey of literature if you will. In the heart of Victorian London, we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, a man so miserly his wallet probably squeaks when it opens. Scrooge is the human equivalent of a lump of coal in your stocking – grumpy, cold, and decidedly un-festive.

a christmas carol

Then, in true Christmas miracle fashion, he’s visited by a trio of ghosts who could give any modern-day life coach a run for their money. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come take Scrooge on a supernatural journey that’s part cautionary tale, part wake-up call. It’s like “This is Your Life,” but with more chains and less applause.

But here’s the twist – the old miser actually learns something! Dickens weaves a tale of redemption, showing us that even the coldest of hearts can thaw. It’s a story about the power of kindness, the spirit of giving, and the true meaning of Christmas, all wrapped up with a bow of 19th-century social commentary. So, if you haven’t read it since you were forced to in school, give it another whirl. It’s short, surprisingly funny, and may just make you a tad nicer to your fellow man. Just don’t expect any singing Muppets in this version.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

If your idea of a festive celebration includes a side of murder (strictly fictional, we hope), then “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” is the book to unwrap this holiday season. Agatha Christie, the queen of whodunits, serves up a Christmas cracker of a mystery, proving that not all presents under the tree are pleasant.

hercule poirots chirstmas

In this holiday escapade, our beloved Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, exchanges his usual cup of herbal tea for a goblet of yuletide sleuthing. The setting? A classic Christie backdrop – a snowbound English country house, complete with a dysfunctional family gathering. The twist? A blood-curdling scream and a very dead patriarch, which is not exactly what you’d find on a typical Christmas list.

Christie decks the halls with red herrings and cunning plot twists, making the act of solving the murder as challenging as untangling last year’s Christmas lights. Poirot, with his impeccable mustache and sharp grey cells, unwraps the mystery layer by layer, revealing family secrets that are naughtier than nice.

“Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” is like the grown-up version of finding out Santa isn’t real—disappointing at first, but ultimately a more intriguing and complex story. So, grab a mince pie and settle in for a holiday tale where the only thing silent is the night is, well, the murder victim.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

“Winter Solstice” may sound like it is meant to describe a frigid chill in the air, but fear not — you’ll be able to stay plenty warm. Instead, Rosamunde Pilcher offers us a cozy, heartwarming saga perfect for those long, chilly December nights when you’re trying to avoid your family’s questions about your personal life.

winter solstice

Set in the picturesque Scottish countryside, this novel is less about the solstice and more about the solace we find in unexpected places and people. The story weaves together the lives of five characters, each more endearing and complex than the last. Think of it as a festive jigsaw puzzle, where every piece is a person with their own backstories and holiday baggage.

Elfrida, an aging actress, Oscar, a recently bereaved man, and other intriguing personalities find themselves converging in a small Scottish village. What unfolds is a tapestry of relationships, healing, and yes, the magic of Christmas. Pilcher’s writing is like a warm hug from a dear friend – comforting, familiar, and just what you need during the holiday hustle.

“Winter Solstice” is the literary equivalent of a hot cup of cocoa (with a splash of Scottish whisky, if you’re feeling adventurous). It’s a reminder that sometimes, the best gifts don’t come under the tree but in the connections we make. So snuggle up and prepare to be transported to a world where the biggest drama is whether the Christmas pudding will turn out right.

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

“All aboard!” for David Baldacci’s “The Christmas Train,” a novel that takes you on a festive journey across America, and no, it’s not on Santa’s sleigh, but something almost as magical – a train. This isn’t your average commute, but a rollicking ride filled with mystery, romance, and a hearty dose of holiday cheer.

the christmas train

Tom Langdon, our protagonist, is a journalist with a heart of gold and a knack for finding himself in peculiar situations – like being banned from flying by the TSA (and not for trying to sneak a giant snow globe onto a plane). His solution? A cross-country train trip during the most wonderful (and hectic) time of the year.

Imagine a cast of characters that could rival your aunt’s eccentric Christmas dinner guests. There’s a love story (because what’s a train ride without a bit of romance?), a dash of mystery (just to keep things spicy), and plenty of holiday spirit. It’s like “Murder on the Orient Express,” but with less murder and more mistletoe.

Baldacci, known for his thrillers, switches tracks here, offering a story that’s lighter than your average fruitcake but just as satisfying. “The Christmas Train” proves that sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination, especially when that journey involves quirky passengers, scenic landscapes, and a bit of Christmas magic.

So, grab your ticket (and maybe a gingerbread latte) and get ready for a holiday adventure that shows sometimes the rails beat the skies for holiday travel. And who knows, you might just end up believing in the magic of Christmas trains (or at least in the power of train travel to bring people together).

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

David Sedaris’s “Holidays on Ice” is the literary equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater: unconventional, slightly irreverent, but undeniably a part of the festive season. This collection of essays is like a tray of assorted holiday cookies – some sweet, some nutty, and a few with a spicy kick of dark humor.

holidays on ice

Sedaris, with his razor-sharp wit, takes us on a sleigh ride through the less sparkly side of the holiday season. From the absurdities of seasonal employment (like his stint as a Macy’s elf named Crumpet) to the bizarre traditions we all endure, he captures the hilarity and the horror of the holidays.

One moment you’re reading about the competitive underbelly of Christmas display contests, the next you’re plunged into a parodic version of a holiday newsletter that makes your distant cousin’s yearly brag-fest seem tame. Sedaris’s humor isn’t just about making you chuckle; it’s about skewering the commercialism and craziness that often overshadow the holiday spirit.

“Holidays on Ice” is your antidote to the overly sweet holiday stories. It’s like a spiked eggnog – it looks innocent enough, but has a kick that will have you seeing Christmas in a whole new, slightly tipsy light. Perfect for those who love their holiday cheer with a side of sarcasm, it’s a reminder that sometimes, the best way to enjoy the season is by laughing at its absurdities.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

In “Skipping Christmas,” John Grisham takes a detour from the courtroom to the festive-lit suburbs, trading legal drama for holiday comedy. This is the story of the Kranks, a couple who decide to ditch the traditional Christmas frenzy for a Caribbean cruise. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go as planned. Think of it as a cautionary tale for anyone who’s ever thought, “Maybe I’ll just skip Christmas this year.”

skipping christmas

Luther and Nora Krank, tired of the commercial hullabaloo of Christmas, decide to invest in tanning oil rather than tinsel. Their plan? To avoid all things Christmas and set sail on a tropical vacation. No tree, no lights, no festive ham. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. What ensues is a neighborhood uprising that makes the Grinch’s Whoville antics look tame.

Grisham, with his trademark storytelling flair, takes us on a hilarious journey filled with neighborhood conspiracies, holiday mishaps, and the occasional spray tan gone wrong. The Kranks’ struggle to buck the yuletide conventions turns into a comedy of errors that underscores the sometimes absurd lengths we go to celebrate the holidays.

“Skipping Christmas” is a witty, light-hearted poke at the chaos and consumerism of the holiday season, and a reminder that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t escape the Christmas spirit (or your neighbors’ judgmental stares). It’s the perfect read for anyone who’s ever looked at their credit card bill in January and thought, “Maybe next year, we’ll just go to the beach.”

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore

Buckle up your reindeer harnesses, because “The Stupidest Angel” is not your average Christmas story. Christopher Moore takes the holiday narrative, adds zombies, a not-so-brilliant angel, and a dash of dark comedy to create a Christmas tale that’s as unconventional as it is entertaining.

the stupidest angel

In the quaint (read: quirky) coastal town of Pine Cove, things are about to get a little… strange. Enter Raziel, an angel with the best intentions but perhaps not the brightest halo in the heavens. Tasked with granting a child’s Christmas wish, he inadvertently triggers a series of events that could make even Santa reconsider his policy on naughty and nice.

Imagine a Christmas scene with a towering tree, sparkling lights, and… a horde of zombies. Yes, you read that right. Zombies. In Moore’s world, the holiday season isn’t just about joy and peace; it’s about survival, albeit with a hearty side of laughs.

“The Stupidest Angel” is like a fruitcake—odd, surprising, and packed with unexpected bits and pieces. Moore’s signature wit is on full display, making this book a fantastic choice for anyone who likes their Christmas stories with a side of sarcasm and a pinch of the absurd.

It’s a tale that reminds us that even angels can have off days and that sometimes, the true spirit of Christmas can survive anything—even a small-scale zombie apocalypse. Perfect for those who like their eggnog spiked and their holiday tales a little on the wild side.

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

“Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances” is the literary equivalent of a Christmas cookie trio – three distinct flavors, all deliciously festive. John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle team up to bring you a snowstorm of teenage romance, holiday mishaps, and a generous sprinkling of Yuletide cheer.

let it snow

First up, Maureen Johnson introduces us to Jubilee (yes, that’s her real name), whose holiday plans derail, quite literally, on a snow-swept train journey. What follows is a heartwarming tale of love found in the most unexpected of places – a Waffle House, because nothing says romance like waffles and whipped cream.

Then, John Green takes the wheel, steering us through a blizzard of friendship and potential love, with a touch of his trademark witty banter. His story is a reminder that sometimes, the best Christmas gifts aren’t under the tree, but on a stranded train with a group of cheerleaders.

Lauren Myracle wraps up the trio with a story of Christmas Eve heartache, New Year’s resolutions, and Starbucks, because what’s a holiday season without a peppermint mocha? Her tale is about finding love where you least expect it and the magic of a well-timed Starbucks run.

Together, these three stories weave a festive tapestry that’s as cozy as your favorite holiday sweater. “Let It Snow” is perfect for anyone who enjoys their winter nights with a side of sweet romance, a dash of holiday quirk, and a belief that love can indeed conquer even the snowiest of obstacles.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

In “A Redbird Christmas,” Fannie Flagg invites us to the small town of Lost River, where the pace is slow, the people are charmingly quirky, and a certain redbird might just steal your heart. This is a story that wraps you up like a well-loved quilt, offering comfort, warmth, and a few chuckles along the way.

a redbird chistmas

The tale begins with Oswald T. Campbell (no relation to the soup, as far as we know), who, after a grim health diagnosis, is advised to spend his final holiday season in a milder climate. He heads to Alabama, expecting a quiet end, but what he finds is a community brimming with life, eccentric characters, and a bird with a personality bigger than Santa’s belly.

Lost River is the kind of place where everyone knows your name, your business, and probably what you had for breakfast. Here, Oswald discovers not just the joys of a small-town Christmas, but also the magic of hope and the power of community. And let’s not forget the redbird, Jack, who’s as much a character as the townsfolk and has a knack for being right where he needs to be.

Flagg’s storytelling is like your favorite holiday cookie recipe – sweet, familiar, and guaranteed to leave you feeling good. “A Redbird Christmas” is a gentle reminder of the small joys of life and the unexpected gifts that come our way. It’s the perfect read for those who enjoy their Christmas tales with a side of Southern charm and a heart full of hope. So, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea (or eggnog, if you’re feeling festive) and settle in for a story that’s as comforting as coming home for the holidays.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

If you thought building a snowman was just a charming winter pastime, “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey will make you think again. This tale, set in the harsh yet beautiful Alaskan wilderness of the 1920s, brings a dusting of magic to the otherwise icy landscape of adult fiction.

the snow child

Meet Jack and Mabel, a couple who’ve braved the Alaskan frontier in the hope of finding a better, if colder, life. They’re as isolated as a pair of lost mittens and their attempts at farming are about as successful as a snowball fight in July. But, one snowy evening, in a moment of childlike whimsy, they build a snow girl. The next morning, the snow child is gone, but they glimpse a young girl running through the trees. Is she real, or are Jack and Mabel starting to feel the chill in their old age?

“The Snow Child” is a mesmerizing blend of fairy tale and reality, as delicate and layered as a snowflake. It’s a story of longing, love, and the unexpected ways we find family. Ivey’s writing is as crisp and invigorating as a gulp of Arctic air, with descriptions so vivid you might just find your breath turning to frost.

This book is perfect for those who like their winter tales with a dash of enchantment and a hint of mystery. Just a heads-up: you might want to read it by the fire, because “The Snow Child” will leave you with a chill that’s only partly due to Ivey’s snowy setting.

And there you have it, a sleigh-load of holiday reads that promise more than just your average carol singing and mistletoe mischief. Whether you’re in the mood for a heartwarming tale, a festive mystery, or a holiday story with a twist, these books are sure to keep your pages turning faster than Santa’s elves on Christmas Eve.

So, as the holiday season rolls in and you find yourself sandwiched between shopping lists and party plans, remember there’s a world of Yuletide tales waiting to be explored. These books aren’t just for passing the time while your holiday pudding sets; they’re gateways to Christmases both merry and bright, and sometimes a little unconventional.

Go ahead, pick one (or a few) of these festive gems. Curl up with a hot cup of cocoa, a warm blanket, and prepare to be whisked away into the snow-dusted pages of Christmas adventures. After all, what’s the holiday season without a good book and a little bit of laughter?

Happy reading, and may your holidays be filled with all the joy and laughter these books can bring!

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A long time Potterhead and gamer, I keep up to date with everything in the Wizarding World from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts to Hogwarts Legacy.

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