If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, you’ll want to be prepared — not only with things that will make you feel your best (hello, travel supplements!), but also with a few items to keep you entertained. A good winter book is always a fantastic option, and can help distract you from any traffic, flight delays, or family stress that might come your way during this festive time of year.
The best part? You can keep those good vibes going when you get to your destination! After all, is there anything cozier than curling up with a book, a warm blanket, and some yummy hot chocolate? I don’t think so. So we’ve compiled a great list of holiday and winter books to have with you whether you are traveling or staying in!
The Ultimate Winter Book Guide
Great reads for all of your holiday down time.
As you start making your packing list for this year’s holiday travels — and checking it twice, of course — don’t forget to add a book or two. There’s a little something for everyone on my list!
1. One Day in December by Josie Silver: One Day in December was pretty much all the rage when it came out last fall, and I think it needs to be all the rage every December. If you’re looking for a story with the perfect blend of holiday spirit and rom com feels, then look no further and toss this book in your holiday travel bag! In it, you’ll meet Laurie and Jack, a would-be couple who chase each other through a series of missed connections throughout London over the course of a full decade. Will fate bring them together in the end? Grab yourself some a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie and find out!
2. Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: Becky Brandon née Bloomwood — better known more simply as “Shopaholic” — has been giving readers entertaining stories of consumerism since the series began in 2000, and I am definitely here for this latest installment. In the first-ever holiday Shopaholic book, Becky is trying to learn how to meditate, shopping for bargains online, and hosting her family for holiday celebrations for the first time. It’s all very relatable.
3. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors: If you’re not ready to commit to a single holiday storyline this December but still want to give some seasonal reading a try, My True Love Gave to Me may be just the thing! It features twelve stories by bestselling young adult authors including Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, Ally Carter, and more, but they’re bound to be a hit among readers of all ages. Plus, you’ll have twelve opportunities to fall in love, all in one book.
4. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory: Jasmine Guillory has the magic touch when it comes to stories of romance, and it was very cool of her to put a festive twist on things for us! There’s also some fashion styling and royalty, so this book is basically tailor-made for vacations (and staycations) of all kinds.
5. Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler: Did anyone else get just a little obsessed with that slightly corny Netflix movie, A Christmas Prince? Same. Luckily for us, the screenwriter behind it wrote a book (which has now been adapted into a Hallmark movie, if you’re into that). Christmas Camp is the story of a successful boss lady who visits a holiday camp at her manager’s request in hopes of getting a pre-New Year’s attitude adjustment. Not surprisingly, hijinks — and romance — ensue.
HOLIDAY THRILLERS + MYSTERIES
6. Watching You by Lisa Jewell: Holiday romances might not be your thing, but a bestselling thriller like Watching You is just as well-suited for a long flight or cozy afternoon of reading on the couch. There’s a quaint English town, a newlywed’s obsession with an older man, and murder… pretty much all the ingredients you need for a compulsively readable thriller.
7. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye: The Paragon Hotel is more historical suspense novel than contemporary thriller — but regardless of the exact category, it’s going to hook you right from the start. The main character is Alice James, newly arrived in 1921 Oregon with illicit money, a bullet wound, and some experience with so-called “unsavory characters” in New York. She finds herself staying in an all-black hotel, where she joins forces with new friends to find the answers to mysteries of racial misdeeds around her.
8. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield: This book opens with a mysterious event — the seemingly miraculous coming-back-to-life of a young girl who’s recently been carried into an inn by a wounded stranger. All of the locals come together in hopes of figuring out the story behind where the girl comes from. It’s a whole lot of suspense and beautiful writing in one pretty package.
9. Reputation by Sara Shepard: Pretty Little Liars fans should brace themselves, because the author of that bestselling series is back with a new mystery that will keep you entertained from now until the beginning of 2020. Reputation is told from the perspective of several women in a closely-knit college town. Everyone is trying to work through the aftermath of a hacking scandal that’s dumped everyone’s secrets into the public eye, so you know there’s a lot of juicy stuff waiting to be revealed.
10. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher: Bestselling author Colleen Hoover promises that “you’ll have whiplash until the very end” when you pick up a copy of The Wives. That sounds like a pretty promising endorsement to me! Picture this: your husband has two other wives who you’re aware of but know very little about. You’re just really into this guy! But what happens when you make an upsetting discovery about the deeper levels of this arrangement? That’s the premise of this suspense novel.
11. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: If Reese Witherspoon puts her stamp of approval on a book, I’m pretty quick to give it a try myself — and The Giver of Stars is no exception. A recent Hello Sunshine Book Club pick, this novel became an instant New York Times bestseller and is already being adapted into a movie. It’s based on a story of strong women and the importance of books that’s so beautiful you might not even believe it’s real!
12. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: You’ll take an amazing journey with this one — through a hidden book, on a mysterious scavenger hunt, then to a masquerade party in New York that leads the main character into an ancient underground library. The library is a world unto itself that will keep you turning pages obsessively until the very end of the holiday season.
13. One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten: At the beginning of 2013, One Day’s author Gene Weingarten asked three strangers to help him pull a date out of a hat… literally. The date they selected was December 28, 1986. For the next six years, Weingarten worked to report every detail of that day as he tried to prove that no day is boring or ordinary. It’s technically non-fiction, but the storytelling is going to blow your mind.
14. Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller: Another true story told in a crazy beautiful style, Know My Name has been named the best read of 2019 by many important book lovers, plus the teams at The New York Times Book review, TIME, Glamour, Elle, and more. If that’s not enough to sell you on giving it a try during your holiday travels, I’m not sure what will be!
15. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Such a Fun Age doesn’t come out until December 31, but trust me when I tell you that it’s worth preordering and saving for the final days of your holiday vacations. At face value, it’s the story of a young babysitter trying to integrate with the family she works for, but it’s really so much more than that. It will get you thinking about race and inclusion and the way you treat the people around you. A very important read to kick off your new year!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
16. The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton: When you think about famous women in history, there are probably a few key names that always come to mind — Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and the list goes on. These ladies are obviously worth celebrating, but there are so many more stories that we haven’theard. In The Book of Gutsy Women, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton help us fill in some of the gaps.
17. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton: With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what we all can do to have the best year yet. In The Joy of Missing Out, productivity expert Tonya Dalton argues that doing less and getting back to basics is the best way to find happiness. She offers practical tips to help you pare back that will have your wheels turning as the new year begins.
18. You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life by Neil Parischa: We all need a little ego boost every once in a while, and few things sound better than the words “You are awesome!” In the third installment of his Book of Awesome series, Neil Pasricha is here to empower readers to face failure and roll with the changes in their lives as they come. It’s all about resilience!
19. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Neighborly Words of Wisdom from Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers: Even if you haven’t gotten a chance to go see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood yet, I’m pretty confident you’ll find something to love about the book that goes along with it. Mister Rogers himself offers his very best advice and encouragement in its pages, where you can also read the Esquire profile of him that inspired the movie in the first place.
20. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark: Written by the hosts of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder, Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered gives you a peek into the lives and backgrounds of two women who have now built a career on helping people move past their real-life fears.
Happy reading & happy traveling!
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