Picture the scene: snuggled up by the fire, wrapped in a warm blanket, warm tea in hand, gentle crackles going off in the background.
What's missing? That's right! A classic Christmastime book—and we aren't necessarily talking about books that are explicitly about Christmas. In fact, some of the best Christmassy books don't mention Christmas.
Books are great because they play with your imagination, and your imagination is far more vivid than any movie or TV show could ever be. During the holidays, your mind is your coziest environment.
Not sure which book to read? Here are the best Christmassy books for immersing yourself in the holiday spirit, perfect for when the snow is falling and the Christmas tree is shining.
7. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
Charles Dickens's story has been adapted into so many different mediums and formats that everyone knows the miserable character of Ebenezer Scrooge. But the book remains the definitive way to experience it.
Released in 1843, A Christmas Carol centers on the cantankerous penny-pincher of Scrooge, who absolutely hates the holiday season. One night, he's visited by three ghosts during the night, and their revelations eventually lead him to repent of his rotten ways.
A Christmas Carol is the riveting tale of a poisoned heart healed, and it's one of the greatest character studies in literature. It's the best way to prepare one's own heart with the Christmas spirit.
6. In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash (Jean Shepherd)
In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash is the book that inspired the film A Christmas Story (1983), which has since become a beloved holiday picture and a must-watch during the festive season.
The book itself is different from the picture, however, as it's made up of a collection of stories from the author Jean Shepherd's life.
All of the bits that made the film iconic are in there in some way, of course, from the BB gun to The Old Man, which all come together to bring that familiar Christmassy feeling to you as you read.
While the book covers more of an expanse than just Christmas, it has such great humor that it'll lift your spirits, and it's near-impossible not to love as you read it—by the fireside or not.
5. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
A Catcher in the Rye is the journey of young Holden Caulfield through the freezing cold streets of New York City, all before he's due to head back to his parent's place for the Christmas holidays.
It's one of the most important pieces of American literature, with author J. D. Salinger exploring everything Holden feels and holding him close as he falls apart through grief and fear.
Despite Holden's debonaire and straight-backed nature, he's still just a boy lost in a sea of people he can't connect to. Couple that with the holiday period and you get an affecting, compelling read.
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)
At this point, The Grinch is more famous as a character from the motion picture starring Jim Carrey than he is as the one from Dr. Seuss's book. But for some, the original still reigns supreme!
Dr. Seuss created this story about a type of anti-Santa—someone who doesn't bring presents to but instead takes them away from the Whoville residents—all because of his utter hatred of Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas has all the charm of the famous movie adaptation, but it's presented through brightly colored illustrations that are endearing to both younger readers and adults alike.
If you have young ones yourself, consider reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas out loud to enjoy the season before Christmas Day.
3. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
The story of the March sisters has captured the attention of millions of people across the world for generations now. Little Women isn't strictly a Christmas book, but it feels Christmassy for its depiction of the holiday season in its pages.
Few works of literature are able to transcend the constraints of their era and make a difference in the lives of people across multiple generations. Little Women is one of them.
To sit down at Christmas time and read the incredible tale of the March family is something that'll require a box of tissues and a resolve to make it through to the end—but for those who do, it's a perfect story.
2. The Night Before Christmas (Clement Clarke Moore)
Everyone has heard the opening words to The Night Before Christmas:
"T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
Calling the book a long read would be an outright lie. It's brisk and easy to digest, making it perfect for a one-night read or as a story to tell young children before they head off to bed on Christmas Eve.
The Night Before Christmas distills the purest feelings of the season into the few pages it has, and it'll be a mainstay of the season forevermore.
1. The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
Yes, there's a film based on The Polar Express starring Tom Hanks, but the original is a far greater achievement than that motion picture (which didn't wholly capture the beauty of the original text).
After a young boy expresses doubts over the existence of Santa, he's picked up by the mysterious Polar Express and taken to the North Pole. The adventure leads him to believe once again, and it proves to him for the rest of his life that Santa truly is real.
Reading it during the season will give you hope that Santa is real, even if you know better. The Polar Express isn't very long and it comes with a beautiful illustration on the cover if you buy it in hardback.