5+1 Favorite Christmas Books

Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas 2021! Only one more day until Christmas! Honestly, today feels more like Christmas to me than tomorrow will, since today is when we will go to church and spend the evening with my immediate family. Tomorrow I’ll travel a bit to see extended family as well.

Today’s post was originally supposed to be a collection of mini reviews of Christmas books I’ve read. However, I’m running short on time today (and honestly didn’t end up completing as many Christmas books as I originally hoped), so instead of reviewing I’m just going to feature 5 favorite Christmas-themed books I have read in the past and 1 current Christmassy read that I am pretty sure will become a new favorite. These are all books I highly recommend and would give a 4 or 5 star review.

The Christmas Plains by Joseph Bottum

The Christmas Plains

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

When did I read it? 2020

Wreaths and holly, fruitcakes and mistletoe, ornaments and snowflakes, St. Nick and Scrooge’s humbug, Joseph and Mary, a young child in a manger and magi from the East. These words automatically stir up the season of Christmas and invoke memories of family and friends and hope and faith. By turns sweet and comic, sentimental and serious, the former editor of First Things magazine shares his reflections of the mad joys and wild emotions of the season while growing up on the South Dakota plains.

From my review notes: “Five stars – it’s amazing. Love the lyric writing and connection of religious elements with the landscape.”

The Angel Tree by Daphne Bendis-Grab

The Angel Tree

Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade Mystery

When did I read it? 2021

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.

I also recently featured this book in a First Line Friday post.

Vintage Christmas by Marlene Campbell

Vintage Christmas

Genre: Nonfiction, Short Story Memoir Collection

When did I read it? 2018

This nostalgic collection recalls Christmas celebrations of the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, transporting readers to the unheated farmhouse bedrooms and cozy barn stalls of rural Prince Edward Island, and the thrilling big-city department store visits to nearby Summerside. It turns out one thing has not changed: the most memorable part of any Christmas cannot be bought and sold.

I’ve already written a review of this book here.

Sincerely, Jem by Kate Willis

Sincerely, Jem

Genre: Contemporary Novella

When did I read it? 2020

Dear Reader,
My name is Jessie. I’m an expert at introversion and cheesecake eating. (#skillz) I’m trying to become a writer, but gathering inspiration = social interaction, so… no.

The world’s best mail carrier suggested I get a pen pal, so this is the story of that pen pal experiment and the beautiful way it opened my eyes.

Merry Christmas and much cheesecake to you!
Sincerely,
Jem

This lighthearted novella is inspired by Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster and originally appeared in the anthology A Very Bookish Christmas.

I reviewed this book last year here.

Where Treetops Glisten by Goyer, Putman, & Sundin

Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II

Genre: Historical Fiction, Clean Christian Romance

When did I read it? 2019

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas.

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

I’ve also already reviewed this book here.

And now 1 Christmas book that I am still reading but am absolutely loving so far:

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Once Upon a Wardrobe

Genre: Historical Fiction

Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

I did not expect to be so utterly captivated by this book. It’s extremely easy and enjoyable to read, but the message, and the things that it makes the diligent reader consider are deep and provoking. I’m a little afraid of what is coming in the story as I expect it to be very sad, but I also anticipate a hopeful ending. I’ll let you know how it turns out (without spoiling anything).

Are you reading any good Christmas books this weekend? I’ve already heard from several people who enjoyed Once Upon a Wardrobe, which makes me anticipate finishing it even more!

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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