The Handbook
The Handbook

Let the spirit of Christmas come to life through these twelve yuletide inspired narratives. From national treasures to contemporary winter romances, dive into these tomes and eek out every ounce of the festive season.

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

A narrative with three parts, with each part written by a different author. Set over Christmas break, the novel follows three teenagers and their festive errands as one of the worst snow storms swoops over the small town of Gracetown. Last year the narrative was thrusted into a Netflix film so it’s a great one to read and then watch to see how well the film holds up to the book. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 

Throwing it all the way back to the Christmas of 1843 (before a time of Netflix adaptations and reboots), when Charles Dickens first released A Christmas Carol. It’s fascinating how centuries later thousands read and reread this classic Christmas novel over the seasonal period. 

A true bildungsroman novel that follows an elderly man named Scrooge, a man who detests Christmas and all that it encompasses, until he’s visited by three spirits over a night long timeline and helps change his perspective on generosity, Christmas and family all together. 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Read the book before you deep dive into Netflix’s new cheesy rom-com series version of David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s co-written narrative. 

Set in New York over the Christmas season, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares follows 16-year-old Lily as she leaves a red notebook in her favourite bookstore bursting full of dares and challenges for anyone who is willing to give them a whirl. It’s Dash, a young teenage boy, who finds the notebook after experiencing a hard time over the festive period. Throughout the novel, their bond grows and they trade notes, dreams and wishes circulating around different locations in NYC. 

Village Christmas by Laurie Lee 

Told through wit, humour and history, Laurie Lee revisits the powerful sense of community that’s experienced when living in the countryside at Christmas time. 

Having grown up in the Cotswolds and moved away when he approached adulthood, Lee was one of the many country folk who returned to his roots and ventured back to the village many years later. The collection of lyrical portraits go on to depict the sights, sounds and smells of tradition.

Amazon Let It Snow

by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Price: £6.55
amazon.co.uk

AmazonA Christmas Carol

by Charle Dickens

Price: £4.25
amazon.co.uk

WaterstonesDash & Lily's Book of Dares

by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Price: £6.99
waterstones.co.uk

AmazonVillage Christmas

by Laurie Lee

Price: £6.39
amazon.co.uk

Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson

A book that’s perfect for those who find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time or love getting a sense of a character through short stories, Kate Atkinson’s Festive Spirits is spread over three short narratives all with a yuletide theme. Fall in love with the spirit Christmas through this 80-paged page turner. 

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

We all have our family Christmas traditions, but J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas unravels his own. Every December an envelope addressed to his children would come rattling through the front door with a stamp from the North Pole. Inside withheld a letter with strange, spidery handwriting and a delicate drawing, with wondrous tales of that year from the North Pole. 

Follow along and relive the excitement of Father Christmas through J. R. R. Tolkien’s fine words.

The Gritterman by Orlando Weeks 

A short narrative that follows a man on the brink of retirement, on his last night on the job. He’s a Gritterman, someone who grits the pavements and roads ready for commuters, school buses and families to speed along them throughout the day. 

Written with such elegance, Orlando Weeks’ The Gritterman is more than just its words. It’s a story of three parts: music, story and illustration, all of which has been delicately hand illustrated too. Once you’ve read along, listen to The Gritterman’s companion album, featuring the ten tracks Weeks wrote and recorded alongside.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Uncover the narrative that inspired Disney’s hugely popular Frozen. A tale of everlasting friendship and adventure, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen follows Kay and Gerda, two children who are neighbours. When winter finally approaches, the grandmother tells them of the story of the Snow Queen and, well you know the rest.

Waterstones Festive Spirits: three short stories

by Kate Atkinson

Price: £6.99
waterstones.co.uk

Waterstones Letters From Father Christmas

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Price: £20.00
waterstones.co.uk

AmazonThe Gritterman

by Orlando Weeks

Price: £10.75
amazon.co.uk

AmazonThe Snow Queen

by Hans Christian Andersen

Price: £12.40
amazon.co.uk

The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann

Another classic to tick off your book bucket list this Christmas should be E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker, the story famed for inspiring composers, artists and aspirers centuries later. 

The story of a young girl who longs for her favourite toy, the Nutcracker, would come alive and play with her. That’s until an evil Mouse King catches on and casts her away into a world dominated by dolls.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 

Although at first this classic might not seem a Christmas tale, the story of the March sisters does in fact correspond with the yuletide season. 

You may have had to read it at school, or perhaps you fell in love with Greta Gerwig’s 2019 award winning adaptation. Either way, the story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is timeless and the perfect read beside the fire. Full of coming of age, love, betrayal and ultimately, family, there is a reason why this story will endlessly be remade: it’s nearly perfect. 

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss 

For a lighthearted, quick read, try Jenny Bayliss’s The Twelve Dates of Christmas. The novel centres around Kate Turner, a 34-year-old who, when it comes to love, has very little luck. Her friend convinces her to sign up to a dating agency which promises to find singles love in the run up to Christmas. Utterly disastrous and hilariously fun, it’s a great read for those looking for something easy to dive into.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal comes Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday. It’s a relatively lighthearted, Christmas romance plot, following Vivian Frost who spends the festive season in England with her daughter. While her daughter, Maddie, is busy working, styling the Royals for the festive season (what a job!), Vivian gets to explore London’s iconic sights with a certain private secretary who, naturally, she falls hopelessly head over heels for.

AmazonThe Nutcracker

by E.T.A Hoffman

Price: £7.60
amazon.co.uk

WaterstonesLittle Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Price: £14.99
waterstones.co.uk

Waterstones The Twelve Dates Of Christmas

by Jenny Bayliss

Price: £6.49
waterstones.co.uk

AmazonRoyal Holiday

by Jasmine Guillory

Price: £7.14
amazon.co.uk

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