Feeling Merrier Already

13 Holiday Novels That Will Get You In The Festive Spirit

Pairs best with eggnog and peppermint chocolate cookies.

Originally Published: 
Christmas books released in July
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Christmas movie season? More like Christmas reading season! Inflatable Santa and his posse of reindeer have assumed their rightful throne in the front yard (sorry, Jack-o-lanterns!), and many of us are on the edge of our seats awaiting the first snowfall of the season. Hot cocoa is on the stove, the twinkle lights are plugged in, and cookies are in the oven. The only thing missing is a good holiday book.

While singing Christmas carols is one of the best ways to spread cheer, so is creating a holiday TBR list. In addition to watching Hallmark’s season-long Christmas movie marathon, we’re reading about fictional Grinches, snow-capped mountains (which can be both spooky and romantic), Hanukkah meet-cutes, and NYE kisses gone wrong. From Christmas riddles to midnight murders to exes kissing under the mistletoe, this assortment of holiday reads is just what Santa ordered.

Whether you’re looking to get a head start on Christmas shopping or treat yourself to a new book, these new arrivals are sure to be the talk of the North Pole this winter.

1. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

For the last decade, Mark and his college friends have gone away on holiday together for New Year’s Eve, and this year is no different — until one of them is found murdered on the property minutes after the clock strikes midnight. Set at a luxurious lodge nestled in the Scottish Highlands, the gang learns that they are snowed in for the foreseeable future due to an impending blizzard threatening to wreak havoc on the small town. How will they get help? And more importantly, who is the killer?

2. The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

Christmastime meets The Parent Trap in Maggie Knox’s The Holiday Swap, featuring a pair of twin sisters who swap places when one of them is unable to successfully do her job following a head injury at work. Desperate to escape their small town (and an overbearing ex), Cass packs her bags for L.A. while Charlie returns to the town she once called home. Their twin identity swap seems to be working until work and love begin to get in the way.

3. Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun

Ellie’s life is about to get a whole lot more complicated. She lost her dream job, her bank account looks very sad at the moment, and the sister of her employer — whom she agreed to “fake” marry for financial benefits — happens to be the same woman she spent one magical night with last Christmas Eve. Ellie wants Jack, but it’s Jack’s brother with the thick wallet. It’s either true love or financial security. Whichever will she choose?

4. Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

For fans of The Family Stone comes a quirky holiday read filled with complex family dynamics, lies and secrets, and one unexpected guest. In Seven Days of Us, an estranged family is forced to brush elbows with one another when the eldest daughter returns from treating an epidemic in another country. Due to quarantine restrictions, the Birches will be *forcibly* spending Christmas together under one roof for the first time in nearly forever.

5. The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart

A family Christmas party turns ugly when the ghost of Whitney’s past shows up on her grandparents’ stoop, ready to join in on the weeklong festivities. Between the hidden mistletoe and endless cups of spiked eggnog, Whitney and Eli may be making the jump to Santa’s Naughty List faster than you can say ho, ho, ho.

6. The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish

For fans of Casey McQuiston comes the queer version of The Holiday, in which two gay singles swap homes for the holidays. Greta is itching to get out of her too-small small town, and Truman, who is recently single after ditching his cheating ex-boyfriend, is desperate for a change of scenery. And so, Greta heads south to Louisiana while Truman prepares for a white Christmas in Maine.

7. Christmas Mouse by Rachel Spangler

It’s the city mouse versus the country mouse in this sapphic holiday novel, where a New Yorker and a small towner go head to head to prove which place makes for the best Christmastime backdrop. Each city will be graded on ambiance, traditions, decorations, and winter activities. May the best woman win.

8. The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Calling all thriller and Agatha Christie fans! The Christmas Murder Game follows a family of cousins as they race against the clock to solve their aunt’s annual Christmas riddle. Lily couldn’t care less about winning the deeds to her family’s grandiose estate. A coded letter from her aunt reveals that the puzzle’s answer will get her one step closer to solving her mom’s mysterious death.

9. The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

MKA is a highly acclaimed beach-read author, but what many bookworms may not know is that the novelist has a few Christmas-themed reads in her portfolio as well. When Ivy Perkins inherited a dusty old farmhouse, the last thing she imagined was uncovering a decades-old letter that would lead her on a quest around town — and possibly to a second chance at love.

Her other holiday novels include Blue Christmas, Christmas Bliss, Midnight Clear, and Bright Lights, Big Christmas.

10. The Christmas Wager by Holly Cassidy

A last-ditch effort to acquire a local Christmas shop lands big-city real estate mogul Bella Ross in the community’s annual holiday games and against some stiff competition: the store owner’s hot grandson. If she wins, Always Noelle is hers — but if Jesse wins, Bella will have to meet his demands, which include an enormous check.

11. The Christmas Orphans Club by Becca Freeman

Hannah and Finn have been inseparable since college, but the trajectory of their friend group (and love lives) is upended when Finn drops a major life update. With this Christmas quite possibly being their last, Hannah, Finn, Priya, and Theo grapple with growing up and the thought of possibly… growing apart.

12. Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley

An emergency plane landing leaves Anna and her seatmate (plus all of her sister’s bridesmaids) stranded in a snow-capped village, albeit things could be worse. For starters, the small town has the charm of a Hallmark movie set. And secondly, one of their fellow passengers is a famous actor — and Anna’s Hollywood crush. Maryam was excited about the wedding, but being trapped at an inn with the one who got away isn’t a bad consolation prize.

13. Make You Mine This Christmas by Lizzie Huxley-Jones

The rules of being a fake girlfriend are quite simple. After all, it's partially her fault that he's in this predicament to begin with. Their drunken kiss went viral, and now Christopher's family is expecting her to join them for Christmas, so Haf obliges. Turns out, Christopher isn't half-bad — Haf can actually see them being friends outside of all this. Then she meets Kit, Christopher's sister, and Haf finds herself trading one sibling for the other.

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