10 Holiday Books to Read in 2021

by Heather Caliendo
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It’s time to look at 10 new holiday books to read in 2021!

In exciting news, there are a ton of holiday-themed type novels publishing this year and what a breath of fresh air that will be! A bunch of new holiday books is exactly the right way to finish out this reading year. I think we all could use a big dose of Christmas cheer.

While there have always been stories centered around Christmas time, I don’t remember seeing so many published in one year. I thought it would be fun to put a list together.

So addition to watching all the Hallmark Christmas movies, make sure you add these holiday-themed novels to your TBR! These range from your typical romcom to more serious fiction to some romance too. Grab some hot cocoa (just like in every holiday-themed movie) and let’s look at these new books to get you in the holiday spirit.

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

The Holiday Swap is one of those twin switching place stories, which are always fun! I wonder if this actually happens in real life? Haha. Anyway, Maggie Knox is the pen name for writing duo Karma Brown (Recipe for a Perfect Wife) and Marissa Stapley (The Last Resort) so you know the writing will be top notch. Here’s the synopsis:

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over. 

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis comes highly recommend by Jodi Picoult so I’m expecting very good things! And the premise sounds like the ideal romcom: two strangers spend a perfect eight hours together with the expectation they will never see each other again. But life as other plans. I love these type of stories about fate. Here’s the full synopsis:

On a snowy evening in March, thirty-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone.

All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence.

With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Always, in December by Emily Stone

So while many holiday books are more in the romcom style, some are more on the serious side such as Always, in December by Emily Stone. Josie and Max are both suffering from grief and past tragedies. While the two characters develop a bond and fall in love, Max suddenly disappears. However, fate continues to bring the two together. The author said she felt close to the characters as she also experienced a loss at a young age as well. This will be more heavy than the other reads but I’m sure it will be such a rewarding story that will no doubt pull at your heartstrings. Here’s the synopsis:

Every December, Josie posts a letter from her home in London to the parents she lost on Christmas night many years ago. Each year, she writes the same three words: Missing you, always. But this year, her annual trip to the postbox is knocked off course by a bicycle collision with a handsome stranger–a stranger who will change the course of Josie’s life.
 
Josie always thought she was the only one who avoided the Christmas season, but this year, Max has his own reasons for doing the same—and coincidence leads them to spending the holiday together. Aglow with new love, Josie thinks this might be the start of something special. 
 
Only for Max to disappear without saying goodbye. 
 
Over the course of the next year, Max and Josie will find that fate continues to bring them together in places they’d never expect. New York City. Edinburgh. The quiet English countryside. And it turns out, Max had every reason to leave and every reason to stay. But what does fate hold for Josie and Max as Christmas approaches again?
 
A devastating, romantic, life-affirming love story, Always, in December will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the last page.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

The Christmas Bookshop centers on a fractured relationship between sisters and also features a bookstore. Carmen is forced to move in with her ‘perfect’ sister and agrees to work at a bookshop while she’s in between jobs. While she works to fix up the bookstore in time for Christmas, there’s also a charming author who takes an interest in the bookshop and Carmen. You can’t go wrong with a bookstore setting during Christmastime. Here’s the full synopsis:

Laid off from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal.

Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. So Carmen moves in and takes the job. 

Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. The store is dusty and disorganized but undeniably charming. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen?  And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?

You can order the book here.


The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

I love the premise for The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer: Rachel is a nice Jewish girl with a secret love of Christmas (which sounds similar to to the author!). While she has a secret career as a bestseller author of Christmas romance novels, her publisher now wants her to write a Hanukkah romance. This one focuses on secrets, a romance and also coping with a chronic illness. Here’s the full synopsis:

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze. 

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

I so enjoyed Sarah Morgan’s The Christmas Sisters from a few years back! I don’t typically read romance type novels but I thought her book was so well-written and heartfelt. She’s back with another Christmas novel, The Christmas Escape. This plot sounds unique and covers friendship, secrets and big reveals. Here’s the synopsis:

It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past.

As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is known for her Southern settings and beach read type stories. This time she tackles a Christmas-inspired tale where newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys a farmhouse. As she goes through all the leftover belongings from the previous owner, she finds an old Santa suit. This takes her on a journey that includes solving a mystery, a family reunited and a second chance for love. Here’s the full synopsis:

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it. 

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey 

Kristy Woodson Harvey also writes Southern-setting stories and while Christmas in Peachtree Bluff is part of a series, I’ve heard that it serves great as a standalone. And it might encourage you to read the others too if you haven’t yet! This sounds a bit unique as it features a hurricane that threatens the Peachtree Bluff town. Here’s the synopsis:

When the Murphy women are in trouble, they always know they can turn to their mother, Ansley. So when eldest daughter Caroline and her husband, James, announce they are divorcing—and fifteen-year-old daughter Vivi acts out in response—Caroline, at her wits end, can’t think of anything to do besides leave her with Ansley in Peachtree Bluff for the holidays. After all, how much trouble can one teenager get into on a tiny island?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

As the “storm of the century” heads toward Peachtree Bluff, Ansley and her husband, Jack, with Vivi in tow, are grateful they’re planning to leave for the trip of a lifetime. But Vivi’s recklessness forces the trio to shelter in place during the worst hurricane Peachtree has ever seen. With no power, no provisions, and the water rising, the circumstances become dire very quickly…and the Murphy sisters, who evacuated to New York, soon realize it’s up to them to conduct a rescue mission. With the bridges closed and no way to access Peachtree Bluff by land or air, they set sail on Caroline’s boat, The Starlite Sisters, determined to rebuild their beloved town—as well as their family.

In “pitch perfect tones” (Publishers Weekly) and written with her signature Southern charm, New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey explores the magic of Christmas, the power of forgiveness, and the importance of family in a tale that reminds us that, no matter the circumstances, home is always where we belong—especially during the holidays.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman is a novel that deals with grief and how memories never fade. I think this will be one of the most emotional holiday reads of the season. It follows a former meteorologist who is forced to move back to small-town Michigan where she can no longer run away from her past, including the loss of younger sister. This is one where you’ll need tissues nearby. Here’s the synopsis:

When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.

Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.

To distract herself from the memories she’s spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss has such a great setting—a historic seaside home. It features a fresh start and, of course, second chances. Overall, I think this one sounds like such a lovely read. Here’s the synopsis:

Annie Sharpe’s spark for life has fizzled out. Her kids are grown up, her restaurant is doing just fine on its own, and her twenty-six-year marriage has come to an unceremonious end. Untethered for the first time in her adult life, she finds a winter guardian position in a historic seaside home and decides to leave her city life behind for a brand-new beginning.
 
When she arrives in Willow Bay, Annie is enamored by the charming house, the invigorating sea breeze, and the town’s rich seasonal traditions. Not to mention, her neighbors receive her with open arms—that is, all except the surly nephew of the homeowner, whose grand plans for the property are at odds with her residency. As Christmas approaches, tensions and tides rise in Willow Bay, and Annie’s future seems less and less certain. But with a little can-do spirit and holiday magic, the most difficult time of her life will become…a season for second chances.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Okay, I know the post says 10 books but I have a bonus one for you!! In super exciting news, Karen Schaler, the writer behind the Netflix hit A Christmas Prince (I loved that one!), recently released A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale. This one was inspired by the royal family and a trip Karen took to the UK as a journalist. It sounds so good! Here’s the synopsis:

A charming Christmas village, a storybook castle, a royal ball, and a gorgeous prince are the last things New York City reporter Kaylie Karlyle expects to find on her holiday freelance assignment to Europe. But when the family she’s interviewing turns out to be the royal family of Tolvania, Kaylie has a meltdown when the quirky queen wants her to write a Christmas fairy tale for the spunky, young princess. Kaylie must battle the princess’s father, who doesn’t trust the media, and her own insecurities about writing anything beyond the news.

To spark inspiration for the fairy tale, the queen recruits the prickly Prince Alexander to show Kaylie the family’s most spectacular royal holiday traditions. And sparks definitely fly when the only thing Kaylie and the prince agree on is that they’re both more “bah humbug” than “ho, ho, ho.”

But somewhere between sleigh rides and snow angels, merrymaking and mistletoe, upside-down Christmas trees, and a legendary Christmas crown, Kaylie and the prince open their hearts to Christmas and start believing in themselves and each other. It’s a real-life fairy tale in the making until Kaylie discovers a secret about a royal Christmas heirloom that jeopardizes everyone’s happily ever after. Can the magic of the season save this holiday happy ending?  

You can order the book on Amazon here.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

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