Columns > Published on December 9th, 2021

8 Holiday Books That Are Not About Christmas

Ah, December—the season of cheer, snow, and lots of time for reading! If you’re looking for something different from your usual Christmas fare to read this year, then this post is for you. Here are eight books perfect for the holiday season that aren’t actually about Christmas.

Happy holidays—and even happier reading!

"The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming" by Lemony Snicket 

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming features one of the best protagonists you’ll ever meet: a little latke who is just sick and tired of being misunderstood during Christmas. ("So you’re basically hash browns," said the flashing colored lights. "Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham." "I'm not hash browns!" cried the latke. "I'm something completely different!")

If you’ve read A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you’ll already have an inkling of Lemony Snicket’s hilariously dark sense of humor. Beneath the humor, however, you’ll find a genuinely heartwarming and informative book that succinctly explains how Hanukkah is different from Christmas. And then you also have our ever-weary hero to cheer on. After all, how can you not root for a delectable potato pancake who’s just running around town screaming because he doesn’t want to be eaten by people who don’t even know what he is?

Get The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming at Amazon


"Murder on the Orient Express" by Agathe Christie

Ever wish that, instead of having dinner with your family around the table on Christmas Day, you were having dinner with your family on a stalled train in the snowy mountains with a murder investigation going on around you? Yes? Then Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is the book that you should be whipping out to read during this winter. One of Hercule Poirot’s most famous exploits, this rollicking murder mystery has all of the Queen of Mystery’s patented twists and thrills—and it’s made all the better for having a wintry setting (and a murder-full premise) that’s perfect for the holidays.

Get Murder on the Orient Express at Bookshop or Amazon


"One Day in December" by Josie Silver

Do you look forward to re-watching Love Actually every year? Are you a fan of Bridget Jones’ Diary? Then let me introduce you to One Day in December. Laurie and Jack lock eyes one day in (you guessed it) December through a bus window and voilà—Laurie falls head over heels in love. There’s just one problem: the bus carrying Jack drives away. She spends a year looking for the mystery man of her dreams, until one day she finds him… at her best friend’s side. If murder a la Agatha Christie isn’t your cup of tea during the holidays and you’d like to go for a bit more romance, then Josie Silver’s book about missed opportunities is one that you should consider picking up.

Get One Day in December at Bookshop or Amazon


"Greenglass House" by Kate Milford

It was supposed to be a relaxing winter vacation for twelve-year-old Milo. That is, until the guests start arriving at Greenglass House—a normally quiet inn for passing smugglers. Soon Milo’s break has been taken over by a handful of unusual, secretive guests who, to top it all off, start complaining that their belongings have started disappearing in the house. But how do these strange clientele all connect to each other in this deepening mystery that takes place in the heart of winter, and what does Greenglass House have to do with it all? Kate Milford never puts a foot wrong when it comes to a spellbinding plot and heartfelt characters, and Greenglass House is no exception. This is best read while you’re stuck in a snow drift, or perhaps next to a roaring fireplace.

Get Greenglass House at Bookshop or Amazon


"A Holly Jolly Diwali" by Sonya Lalli 

If Christmas isn’t quite for you, how about Diwali? Otherwise known as India’s festival of lights, Diwali takes the stage front and center in Sonya Lalli’s A Holly Jolly Diwali. This feel-good, carefree book about a type-A data analyst and a passionate London musician who fall in love in Mumbai on Diwali is the kind of book that can transport you to a different country for the holidays. And you might just find that Diwali is a change-up from Christmas that you’ll enjoy!

Get A Holly Jolly Diwali at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats

Simply a classic book. And it’s only 32 pages, so there’s no excuse for you not to pick it up! Ezra Jack Keats wrote this children’s book back in 1962, which might tell you a lot about how enduring it’s been. The famous story that it tells—one of a small boy named Peter who goes on an adventure in his neighborhood on a snowy day—is pretty much the perfect book for the winter holidays. Not much happens in it, but that kind of beauty is exactly the point. So if you’re in the mood for a simple book to get you into the mood for the snowy season of holidays ahead, this should be your go-to. Rest assured, it's not a children's book about Christmas that's actually a horror book in disguise.

Get The Snowy Day at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Bear and the Nightingale" by Katherine Arden

If you like your holidays to be atmospheric and lushly haunting, then you might want to turn to Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale. Set in the bitterly cold Russian wilderness, The Bear and the Nightingale will take you on a dark and magical journey with Vasya, our protagonist who can see creatures of the forest that others can’t. But her gift for the second sight isn’t universally appreciated by her village, which puts her in the crosshairs for danger when the old gods rise and she cannot protect everyone. Wintery and rich with Russian folklore, this is one novel that will show you the very fabric of fairy tales themselves.

Get The Bear and the Nightingale at Bookshop or Amazon


"Winter Hours" by Mary Oliver

Looking for something a bit more cookie-sized—or, say, poetry-sized—to get you through this time of the year? I’ve got you covered. Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning poet Mary Oliver published this wonderful collection of essays and poetry in 2000. It’s an extremely accessible book for people of all types—whether you’re already a fan of Mary Oliver or whether you’re just starting to discover one of the most accomplished American poets of our time. As its title suggests, whether it's a love poem or a pristine essay, it may be just the thing to carry you through the winter hours of the year.

Get Winter Hours at Bookshop or Amazon


About the author

Emmanuel Nataf is a Founder at Reedsy, a marketplace and set of tools that allows authors and publishers to find top editorial, design and marketing talent. Over 3,000 books have been published using Reedsy's services.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: