The first volume of the Chronicles of Narnia is quite possibly my ideal wintery read. It may have a lot to do with childhood nostalgia, but when I think of cozying up in a in front of the fire with a good book, I'm probably picturing this one.
I mean-- four kids traipsing around wearing floor-length fur coats in a snowy, magical land where it's "always winter and never Christmas." Such a perfect winter read!
And then, oh, the joyous and majestic moment when Father Christmas himself appears, as a harbinger of the goodness and healing to come... I've always gotten chills at this part:
"I've come at last. She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening."
The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
An epic story of good versus evil set around midwinter and the twelve days of Christmas. The story weaves fantastic contrast between dark and light, making for an evocative and atmospheric read while the days are short and nights are long.
Almost too dark and intense for me to revisit often, but incredibly captivating, this story full of myth and questing is perfect if you want something to really make you feel the winter's chill.
The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens
I just finished this one, and was struck by how perfect it is for this time of year. Christmas figures prominently in the beginning and end of this book.
First in the Books of Beginning series, The Emerald Atlas is an action-packed adventure that's sure to be a hit with many young readers, and is enjoyable for an older audience too. With its warm, comforting narration by the incredible Jim Dale, this title would make a great audiobook choice for those long family car rides during the holidays.
Betsy In Spite of Herself, by Maud Hart Lovelace
In this installment of the Betsy-Tacy series, fifteen year old Betsy sets off to visit her old friend Tib for a "gemütlich" German-American Christmas in Milwaukee.
The descriptions of Tib's large extended family and their traditions are utterly delightful. I love seeing it all through Betsy's curious, amazed eyes. Waltzes, afternoon coffee, pastries, and a whole week of Christmas Days... ahh, where's my time machine? I'd like to be transported back to Milwaukee in 1907, please!
Let It Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
A charming holiday read for a slightly older audience, this book comprises long-ish short stories by three fantastic contemporary YA authors.
The stories, all sweet romances infused with humor, can stand alone but are cleverly interconnected. They tie together in a satisfying way for an overall feel-good reading experience that's sure to give you the holiday warm-fuzzies-- kind of like a YA book equivalent of Love Actually.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and happy reading, everyone!