Riley Heruska
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The Gift of the Magi & Other Short Stories

Texas might not exactly look like a glistening winter wonderland right now, but that doesn't mean we can't curl up indoors with some cozy books when we have the chance. Thanksgiving break is coming, which means long days of hanging with family and doing nothing. Picking up an addictive novel is one of the best ways to pass the time and truly soak up some relaxation. Not ready to fully embrace the holiday season? Here are a few books that will have you decking the halls and spreading cheer as soon as you crack their spines. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This one might seem a little on the nose, but it's impossible to craft a holiday reading list without including this quintessential story. You may have seen several movie adaptations of Ebenezer Scrooge's redemption, but you probably haven't delved into Dickens' original text and experienced the true essence of his story. The novel is a masterpiece of imagination, and its emphasis on charity and goodwill make it the perfect holiday companion. A perennial favorite that has delighted readers for more than 170 years, A Christmas Carol arguably embodies the most poignant definition of Christmas spirit you can find. 

The Christmas Wish
by Richard Siddoway

This inspiring mystery follows Will Martin, a man who was raised by his grandparents after the death of his parents when he was young. He returns to help run his family's real estate business after his grandfather passes away, but he soon learns secrets about his beloved grandfather's past that leave him shattered and confused. His grandmother tells Will that she found out her husband was having an affair every Christmas Eve, so Will sets out to uncover this other woman. What he finds is a powerful lesson in forgiveness, kindness, and the importance of caring for others. Siddoway's tale is a holiday favorite, and you'll easily see why so many recommend it. 

Letters from Father Christmas
by J.R.R. Tolkien

There are no elves or orcs in this 1976 Tolkien tale, but there are enchanting tales that come straight from the hand of jolly big man himself. Centered around the letters from "Father Christmas" that Tolkien handed to his children every year, the compilation is a charming addition to any holiday story collection. Readers will love Tolkien's inventive scenarios, which range from polar bears falling through roofs to escaped reindeer that accidentally leave scattered presents in their wake. 

The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

You've probably seen the classic film It's a Wonderful Life more than a few times, but you might not have read the book that inspired the tale. This short story was originally printed as a private Christmas card for the author's friends, but it eventually sparked the idea for a timeless Christmas film. Revisit the world of George Bailey as he realizes that his life is a gift that touches many. It's a heartwarming tale with themes that ring true across all generations. 

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans

This beloved tale of hope and redemption has become a bit of a literary Christmas staple. Richard Paul Evans takes the classic story of Scrooge and gives it a modern twist that is perfectly executed and entirely heartwrenching. James Kier, a ruthless businessman in today's society, cares only about making money until he stumbles across his own obituary in the newspaper. The shocking sight leaves him reevaluating his lifestyle, as well as his actions towards others. The Christmas List might not be as superbly-told as Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but it does lend the story a fresh face that is touching and thought-provoking. 

There's Something about Christmas 
by Debbie Macomber 

Best-selling author Debbie Macomber has enchanted thousands of fans with this story of wisdom and love. Her character Emma Collins is flying around Washington to interview various fruitcake recipe creators as the holidays approach, and during the process, she meets a man who bears a striking resemblance to Scrooge with his sour temper. However, she soon realizes that there is might be more to this man than meets the eye, as well as the women she's been interviewing. Full of fun personalities and humor, this lighthearted read is an ideal companion to settle in with after a heavy Thanksgiving meal. 

The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories
by O. Henry

Packed with sixteen different tales, this colorful compilation contains various works by the talented author O. Henry. Perhaps the most famous of these short stories is The Gift of the Magi, which is about a young couple who can't afford Christmas gifts for one another. Henry's remarkable writing style will snag your attention immediately, and his diverse themes about giving and living are the perfect accompaniment to the holiday season. 

The Christmas Box
by Richard Paul Evans

Evans' 1996 novel is one of the most popular holiday reads on the market. In it, he records the touching story of a widow and the family that moves in with her as they discover the true meaning of Christmas. Heartfelt and wonderfully-told, the timeless tale has won the hearts of countless readers and established itself as a true seasonal classic. 

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey

Winter in Alaska is no joking matter. High levels of snowfall, freezing temperatures, and the isolation of certain areas make survival difficult. Ivey's characters, Jack and Mable, have an especially difficult time dealing the challenging season after they move to the area during the 1920s. Their marriage is falling apart and their daily work is exhausting. In a brief moment of light-hearted fun, they design a snow child in their yard. The next morning, their creation is gone, but they glimpse a blonde-haired little girl dashing through the woods. The couple struggles to understand this fairytale-like child in a story that becomes both beautiful and transformative. 

The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall 

Ever read an Amish holiday romance? Probably not, but if you'd like to, this is your chance. Woodsmall tells the story of Rose Krutz, a traditional Amish woman who is asked to leave her home to help a man named Joel after tragedy strikes his family. She agrees to stay with Joel and his children to help them through the difficult time by marrying into the family. Rose and Joel face strife and deep pain together as Christmas approaches, and it seems like their marriage might crumble. Give the novel a shot to see if the couple can make their partnership stand strong as the cold winds blow. 

What are your favorite books to read during the holiday season? Leave any recommendations in the comments! 

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