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  • Writer's pictureLinda Borromeo

Ideal Books to Read During a Busy December: Here Are Seven I Love

For those who love reading, the busy December holidays can be a challenge. However, book lovers always find a few minutes to open the pages of an old friend or discover a new favorite.

Short stories. A classic novella. Charming letters from Father Christmas. Here are six favorites (plus one) with shorter passages to dip into throughout the beautiful December rush:

A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott

Book Description:

Like her character Jo in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott wrote short stories to send off to magazines, eagerly watching the mail for an acceptance letter and a check.

In Louisa's case, she wrote for her own satisfaction and especially to help her family make ends meet. Her Christmas-themed stories are now collected in this attractive book. We also get to enjoy the iconic Christmas scene from Little Women all over again.

What Makes This Book Special:

In an era when the messages in children's books were often heavy-handed, Louisa May Alcott made her characters less perfect and more vivid and lovable. They often have a breezy and ironic sense of humor that keeps the stories from being overly sweet.

These stories overflow with the spirit of the season and an old-fashioned charm.

Anne of Green Gables Christmas Treasury by Carolyn Strum Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson

Book Description:

A perfect companion book for any Anne of Green Gables fan!

I'm not a "crafty" person (my creations never turn out remotely like the ones pictured in handicraft books). I still love looking through the illustrations in this book.

The drawings, quotes from the "Anne" books, and interesting lore about a Victorian Christmas give a wonderful "feel" to this Treasury. Hand-made decorations to trim a Christmas tree—Anne-style—are especially fun (even if, like me, you just soak up the nostalgic ambiance of the book).

What Makes This Book Special:

My husband, an expert chef, created an "Anne" Christmas dinner for me using these recipes: Island Mashed Potatoes, Anne's Glazed Carrots and Four Winds Roast Goose (turkey for us). I always remember that kindredly Christmas dinner when I open this Treasury every year.

A Green Gables Christmas quote:

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Description:

John Francis Reuel Tolkien was three years old when he received an exciting letter addressed to him. The stamp had an interesting, quite icy look to it. The postmark must have riveted his attention when his mother read it to him.

It said simply, "North Pole."

It was the first letter in a long tradition at the Tolkien household (from 1920-1943). John, and later his brothers and sister, received an annual letter from Father Christmas and his associate, the North Polar Bear (who gave his outlook on things, too, in thick red handwriting as he tried to write with his paw).

If the handwriting and drawing style began to look suspiciously like their father's, I'm sure John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla enjoyed the letters all the more in later years.

What Makes This Book Special:

Where do I start? Letters from Father Christmas was a wonderful discovery for me this Christmas season. The letters and illustrations are filled with humor and charm. I found myself laughing out loud (I especially enjoyed the exasperated but affectionate banter between Father Christmas and the North Polar Bear).

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterworks, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will also enjoy seeing the author at his most relaxed and playful. I was surprised to see a few correlations between some characters in the Letters and his famous books.

While reading through the letters, it's poignant to catch a glimpse of the love J.R.R. Tolkien had for his family and to imagine the children's delight when they discovered each new letter Father Christmas wrote for them.

The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Story Description:

Classic children's book fans will recognize Kate Douglas Wiggin as the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Sixteen years before her best-known work, this lovely story was written in 1887, featuring a little girl born on Christmas day.

The carols being sung that morning seem to echo in her heart throughout the year, even when she falls seriously ill. Resolved to reach out to others, she puts together a surprising plan.

What Makes This Book Special:

I had never heard of this book until a good friend recommended it as her favorite Christmas story. The pages were few, but the heart message is large. It is sad, tender, and humorous by turns. By the last page of the book, it will leave the reader with a quietly warm and bittersweet feeling.

A Little More About the Author:

Kate Douglas Wiggin's pen spoke of the magic and adventures of childhood, but she didn't stop there. She established the first free kindergarten in San Francisco, and spent her life as a tireless advocate of children's rights, welfare, and education.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Story Behind the Story:

When a wealthy friend asked Charles Dickens to inspect a school for poor children prior to making a donation there, he readily agreed. Because of his own poverty as a child, Dickens was troubled about the plight of those trapped in the life he remembered.

His rage built the more he saw of the "Ragged School," as it was called. At first, he wanted to write a fact-based pamphlet to let people know about the harsh conditions. He realized, though, that change usually comes by touching the emotions.

Later that year, under financial pressure, Charles Dickens penned A Christmas Carol, taking only six weeks to finish his story of loss, brokenness, and redemption. He wrote it "at a white heat." He often "wept and laughed and wept again," walking fifteen or twenty miles on many nights as he thought out the story.

A Christmas Carol was released just a week before Christmas and became an instant sensation and bestseller.

What Makes This Story Special:

Charles Dickens had a genius for creating characters (and their names!). Ebenezer Scrooge is among his most memorable. In countless stage plays and film adaptations, this story comes alive and touches the heart, just as Dickens hoped it would when he wrote his timeless words in 1843.

First edition of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens

Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season by Heidi Haverkamp

Book Description:

At the beginning of December, I always need to decide which Christmas book I'll choose to spend time with each morning. This is the one I selected for again for 2023.

Advent in Narnia is a collection of readings about the Christmassy aspects of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The book is arranged with one reading for every day in December leading up to the 25th.

What Makes This Book Special:

With interesting insights about the C.S. Lewis classic, it's wonderful to spend time in a new way with the story. As Ms. Haverkamp writes, " placing Christianity in another world, [Lewis] makes it unfamiliar again."

Her book is a thought-provoking way to learn what Christmas is all about "whether we aren't sure Christianity can mean anything to us or whether it means everything."

The First Christmas and the Meaning of the Day

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst

Merry Christmas!

May you have a wonderful day filled with the joys of the season, wonderful books, and happiness throughout the New Year.


My book, Mystery Shores, is set on a lighthouse island along the beautiful Pacific Northwest coast. I'm currently writing the sequel, Mystery Fair.

I hope to someday write a Christmas novella set at Mystery Shores Island. Lighthouses, snow, and mystery seem like a good combination for busy December reading too.


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