The Best Christmas Books For Adults. Updated for 2021.

There are endless possibilities for children’s Christmas books, but you have to search a bit to find a good Christmas read for adults. Here are 10 GREAT Christmas books an adult can cozy up with this holiday season while avoiding shopping, parking lots and Santas that smell like scotch.

Library decorated for Christmas with shelves of books, greenery, and a white Christmas tree.

WINTER books are like the season, slow, heavy and almost never ending.  They’re the kind of books with some heft that more often than not have won some sort of literary award.  The one time this doesn’t hold true is in the winter month of December.

A time when even the most austere of readers has been known to bundle under the covers with a hot chocolate, a shortbread cookie and secretly crack open a Christmas romance novel.

Yup, romance novels.  The literary world’s most sneezed upon genre.  It’s also the most profitable.  Romance novels make more money for the publishing world than any other books – by a lot.

Book Genres by Earnings
  1. Romance &  Erotica – $1.44 billion dollars
  2. Crime & Mystery – $728.2 million
  3. Religious & Inspirational – $720 million

Now that I’ve sort of legitimized romance novels I will now confess that although I’ve never read a “regular” romance novel, I had a period in my life when I was absolutely obsessed with Christmas themed romance novels.  Which I read of course around Christmas.  When I was in University a friend and I would start buying these books around the month of October and we’d read them nonstop until Christmas.

I said it was a way to avoid writing papers and nothing more. I was a University student for God’s sake. I had better literary tastes than this.   But I didn’t. I liked those books. I actually liked them.

They just made me feel cozy, happy, relaxed … all the things one normally doesn’t feel while trying to avoid writing 2,000 word papers.  Cozy, happy and relaxed are all the things we all want to feel 100% of the time which probably explains why romance is indeed the most read genre in the world.

So while they aren’t normally what I reach for when I’m looking for a book I’ve included a couple of romance books on this list of Christmas novels. 

18 Great Christmas Reads for Adults

Christmas tree built out of Christmas themed books.


The Best Christmas Books

Something for everyone to cozy up with this holiday season no matter what your reading taste. Humour, mystery, romance and literary fiction.

My personal favourites on this list are Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris which is absolutely hysterical and A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg because she’s such a good storyteller.  

Bonus Holiday books! Jewish, gay, & lesbian selections.
Jewish Holiday book

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming  How could a book titled The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming be anything but fantastic? A Lemony Snicket book.

Gay Holiday Book

Small Town Christmas Gay romance Christmas novels don’t seem to differ from straight ones very much. This one focuses on a small town sheriff who tries to hide his gay truth from coming out before an election. Enter, the highly successful businessman, who wanders into town for a business deal during the holiday season.  

Lesbian Holiday Book

A Swedish Christmas Fairytale The premise of this sounds like a PERFECT Christmas book. Excerpt from Amazon – “Amber Tate is about to lose her job at a London publishing house. And it’s nearly Christmas. Her boss gives her one last chance. Sadly, it’s the impossible task of obtaining the rights to the popular Lund Collection of fairy tales. The rights to the fairy tales are held by the author’s granddaughter, Emilia Lund, who lives a reclusive life in Sweden and has steadfastly refused to talk to anyone about the rights for the last several years. However, in order to convince her one and only friend that she can be sociable, Emilia agrees to invite Amber – under strict conditions – to the cosy setting of wintry Sweden. 

There’s only a 1-2 month long window where this kind of book will feel magical.  Get that book, go to bed early with a mug of hot chocolate, a plate of shortbread cookies and settle into some holiday rest, relaxation and reading. It’s not just for University students trying to avoid writing papers.

It’s for anyone trying to avoid anything. 

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The Best Christmas Books For Adults. Updated for 2021.


  1. Tanya says:

    Who has time to read Christmas books? There’s 3 (count them) THREE Hallmark channels all running Christmas movies 24/7. I’m exhausted.

    Wanted to share with you these hilarious bingo cards created by Jen Lancaster, a hilarious writer, you can use while watching the movies. Heck, they’ll probably work for some of these books!

    Ho Ho Ho,

  2. Barb says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll be checking out several of these for my Christmas reading!
    I have a favorite book that I’ve read and reread for about 8 years. It’s “A Pioneer Christmas Collection”. There are 9 stories by different authors that cover different periods from 1781 – 1897, historical fiction. It’s one of those easy read books that also brings adventure and love during the Christmas season.

  3. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Hallmark movies??? I’d rather stab myself in the eye than watch one 🙄. I used to think we “might” be sisters from another mother but now? Pffft. Not so much.

  4. Kat - the other 1 says:

    “A Christmas Carol,”
    “You’ve seen the movie, now read the book. We all know the book is always.”

    But have you / y’all seen the “Muppet Christmas Carol?”
    My favorite! Lol ;)

  5. Rose says:

    Christmas at Fontaines is also a great fast read. LOVE the Sedaris pick as well.

  6. Cherie says:

    I have the movie, several copies of the story, a CD of Dylan Thomas himself reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and I cannot imagine a Christmas without seeing the movie and reading the book while listening to Thomas’s mellifluous voice. I have been doing this for at least 50 years — not the DVD and the movie but reading the book and listening to a recording by Thomas — since one of my profs at UNB invited his small creative writing class over before Christmas for a meal and what he said was a “treat”. And a treat it was, too, the LP recording and the meal. Des Pacey, the prof, turned out the lights, lit candles and told us all to be very quiet and just listen. It was magical. I have many other Christmas books, a couple of dozen Christmas CDs, lots of glass ornaments on my never staged Christmas tree, and so many happy memories of Christmases past. I’ll peruse your list, Karen, and know that I will read some of them. Thank you and a much too early “Merry Christmas.” Cherie

  7. Andie Anstess says:

    Love this list. Got the 2 you personally recommended as your faves.

  8. Randy P says:

    Well, I’ve just now read everything YOU have written about all these books in this posting… so I’m calling that good enough….. but the Poirot one DOES appeal to me ( a serial binge watcher of the many series and movies). So mayhaps I shall get that one and read it. Thanks for the recommendations.

  9. Sue T. says:

    Hi, Karen. I want to let you know that your link to Amazon for the first book on your list, Tolkien’s “Letters from Father Christmas,” doesn’t send your readers to the correct Amazon page. (As of 4:30 a.m. Central Time, U.S., Friday, November 12, 2021)
    I love all your columns. Thank you for your witty take on everything!

  10. Sabina says:

    It’s funny, I consider myself a bookaholic. I read probably a dozen books over this past summer. Now that we’re all cooped up I find I can’t concentrate long enough to get hooked, or I fall asleep one and a half pages in. I have a stack of books I was itching to devour when I bought them and a couple more on this list I’d like to grab. Maybe I will pick one of your “easy reads” and hope that it jumpstarts my brain lol!

  11. Grammy says:

    Another: The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya. “With her father away and her grandfather too sick to create the traditional luminaria, Luz helps create farolitos, little lanterns, for their Christmas celebration.” Beautiful children’s story.

    In addition, I began reading O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” to my son when he was three (he’s 56 now) and read it every year until he was in middle school. It remains one of his favorites. I began again with my grandson and, even though he’s in middle school now, he still wants to continue it each year. He told his mother, last year when she wasready to leave our house, “Sit down and wait. This is a TRADITION.” That story was written 120 years ago, so you have to paraphrase in a couple of places for very young ones because of the different phrasing (and also explain decorative hair combs and pocket watches) but the story still holds all the charm from the first time I read it around 1950. And after the first few readings they can handle even the quaint original wording.

  12. Darcy says:

    Please make a fruit cake recipe based on a Christmas Memory. Makes me cry every time. My absolute favorite. I made my own mediocre fruit cake and gave it out with the story.

  13. Marcia says:

    I collect Christmas books (children’s and adult’s) and have a few favorites that aren’t on your list:
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I Love this book and re-read it every year. It still makes me laugh.
    The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory I think someone else recommended this.
    The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry. If you’re a fan of Dave Barry, you’ll love this
    Wishin’ and Hopin’, A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb
    Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider
    Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed
    The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

    The last three books are children’s books, but they’re wonderful. You’ll enjoy reading to the children in your life.

  14. Violet says:

    Has anyone tried The Christmas Gift by J. Dietrich? It’s an illustrated indie book that the author wrote for his wife. Very sweet.

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