Christmas books you need to read that aren’t ‘A Christmas Carol’

You would struggle to find anyone who doesn’t know the story of Charles Dicken’s novella ‘A Christmas Carol.’ The tale of Scrooge and his Christmas Eve journey with the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future have been re-told to children throughout the generations and have become immortalised in film, media and television adaptions. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a true Christmas story, but despite its notoriety, it is not the only Christmas tale out there!

This article will introduce you to some alternative Christmas books that will guarantee to get you in the festive spirit. You will be introduced to some hidden gems and stories that have almost been long forgotten and remind you why ‘a Christmas Carol’ is not the only Christmas book you should read this year.

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,  Robert L. May

The iconic Christmas song ‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer’ wasn’t always a song and started out as a book in 1939 when Robert L. May was tasked with writing a new story for Christmas. Now in 2020, we find it impossible not to think of Rudolf as a part of our Christmas celebrations – after all, who would guide Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve? This book is the perfect way to kick off your holiday as you get to meet Rudolf for the very first time.

Rudolph the red nose reindeer


The Nutcracker, E.T.A Hoffmann

Originally written in 1816, The Nutcracker has taken on a life of its own since then inspiring ballet productions, films and Christmas decorations across the globe. This tale begins on Christmas Eve and centres around a young Marie and her fantastical adventures with the nutcracker toy she discovers. Once the clock strikes midnight, every toy becomes alive and the story truly begins changing the holiday forever for Marie and for us as readers.

The Nutcracker


A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote

Although Truman Capote is best known for penning Breakfast at Tiffany’s, his short story A Christmas Memory which is a semi-fictionalised account of his own childhood, is a delightful read. The story revolves around Buddy making fruitcakes with his elderly female cousin and best friend. Together they make a great pair and are a delight to read, especially if you also share in the cooking (or eating!) with your family at Christmas.

A Christmas memory


Christmas at the Island Hotel, Jenny Colgan

Everyone loves holiday escapism, but with trips and foreign adventures cancelled for everyone this year, this book is the perfect match for any globetrotters who haven’t been able to leave their house! The book depicts two siblings, Flora and Fintan Mackenzie as they try to get the Island hotel up and running for Christmas, turning it into a cosy Christmas resort, with no shortage of problems thrown into the mix.

christmas at the island hotel


The Christmas Egg, Mary Kelly

For those who do not think Christmas and crime novels mix, then show them The Christmas Egg by Mary Kelly. A dead impoverished Russian princess, stolen jewels, her drunken son, a jeweller and a Fabergé egg are all mixed together for investigator Brett Nightingale and Sergeant Beddoes to solve. With action, drama, and a brilliant winter snowstorm, the writing of Mary Kelly will certainly give you a Christmas read that you won’t forget.


christmas egg


The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories, by various authors

If you don’t have much time between present wrapping, turkey cooking, and mince pie eating this Christmas, then this collection of short Christmas tales is for you. With beautiful stories of enchanted Swedish forests, to midnight mass in Rio, this book will take you all over the globe with their festive tales from some of the best short story writers such as Shirley Jackson, Dylan Thomas and Chekhov.

Christmas stories


Village Christmas and Other Notes on the English Year, Laurie Lee

If you are looking for some Christmas nostalgia and a glimpse into times gone by, then this collection of essays will satisfy your festive reading. Laurie Lee wonderfully captures a wealth of English Christmas traditions and stories, framed in the idyllic Cotswold landscape (Lee’s childhood home) within his essays, that document his memory of Churchill’s bitter January funeral as well as carol singing in the snow.

village christmas


Hopefully, this article has given you some books to put on your Christmas lists this year and has got you feeling festive, despite Christmas in 2020 feeling very different from any other Christmas before. If you are a student who has recently graduated, check out this latest article by The Writers Initiative about graduating and job hunting in the times of coronavirus.  Thank you for reading and Merry Christmas from everyone at The Writers Initiative.