Finding time to read during the holidays can be challenging. It’s not just carving out quiet time to spend with a book. The distraction of so much to do can make it hard to focus even when I do make the time.
So…maybe this isn’t the week to push myself to get through the last 100 pages of Jane Eyre. I can still enjoy the benefits of reading. Maybe this is the week to settle down next to my Christmas tree, snuggled under a warm blanket, with eggnog and gingerbread cookies, to read seasonal stories that celebrate the beauty of this time of year.
If you’re thinking likewise, here are nine short stories and novellas that feel like unwrapping a present you didn’t know you needed:
My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
This collection of short seasonal stories by a who’s-who of YA authors revolves around winter holidays – Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice. Each story, to the last, iterates some version of the magic of the season.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
I’d never heard of this short, beautiful little book until last week via Words of a Reader. It’s Dylan Thomas’ enchanting story of Christmas in Wales told in the first person from a child’s point of view. I don’t think it took me half an hour to read, but it was an exhilarating half an hour.
The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman
Hoffman’s story of a little girl and her Christmas nutcracker provided the inspiration for the Balanchine’s ballet. If you’ve seen the ballet, it will seem lifted from the pages of this transporting read.
Christmas in the Highlands by M. C. Beaton
My love affair with Hamish Macbeth began with this novella. During Christmas in Lochdubh, PC Macbeth investigates several cases and conspires to bring the spirit of the season to his little corner of the Scottish Highlands.
The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol
Hijinks and hilarity ensue on Christmas Eve when the devil visits a Russian village bent on revenge against a dude who has been painting icons of the devil being vanquished. The ending is perfection.
Christmas at Thompson Hall and Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope
Trollope’s five stories begin with the hilarious “Christmas at Thompson Hall,” about misunderstandings and mistaken identities. Each story picks up and extends the Christmasy theme with the final story offering a profound meditation on the spirit of reconciliation.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Dickens’ classic is a bit longer to read than the others but so worth it. Four ghosts visit Christmas hater Ebenezer Scrooge, delivering him from the worst possible fate: a life devoid of love and care.
A Doll’s Christmas by Tasha Tudor
Tudor’s story of children putting on Christmas for their dolls has charmed generations as much for its words as for its illustrations. Both make me want to climb into the book and settle in for a spell.
Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien
Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Tolkien put his creative genius to work writing letters to his children from Father Christmas in which he recounts his adventures getting ready for the big day. My fabulous edition includes images of Tolkien’s fabulous original illustrated letters and envelopes.
What are your favorite short seasonal stories to read this time of year?