This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure policy
My 2023 holiday reading recommendations include uplifting novels, Advent devotionals that feed the soul, and terrific Christmas books for families and kids of every age.
There’s never a wrong time to treat yourself or a loved one to a good book. However, as Christmas and Hanukkah approach, treating yourself or loved ones to a really great holiday-themed book can bring an extra touch of wonder, magic, and holiday spirit to the festive season.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been curating lists of Holiday Reading Recommendations for years. But I think my recommendations for 2023 might just be the best so far. There is something here for just about everybody!
2023 Holiday Reading Recommendations: Novels and Romance
Novels with holiday themes and happily-ever-after endings are a Christmas tradition at my house and one of the best ways I know to get into the spirit of the season. Here are a few that I highly recommend.
The city-dweller goes to the country and finds the true meaning of Christmas trope gets turned on its head in this wise and witty read. When Kerry Tolliver leaves the family tree farm in the Carolinas and spends the holidays in Manhattan, living in a vintage camper and selling Christmas trees, she realizes that love, kindness, and holiday magic can be found in the big city, too.
Hoping to escape Christmas–which has never gone well for her–newly-single Brenda volunteers to transport a vanload of rescued dogs of all shapes and size from Texas to a wintry town deep in the heart of the Catskills. Mayhem ensues. So does the possibility that Brenda might find love and a future in the last place she ever expected to find it. Dog lovers will adore this novel!
Three girlfriends who were disappointed by three truly terrible Christmases decide to give themselves a holiday do-over, every month for the next twelve. Even the Grinch himself couldn’t help but smile at the high jinks, heart, and humor in this delightful holiday read.
Jenny Colgan writes the Christmas books that so many people (including yours truly) look forward to. McCredie’s Old Town Bookshop in Edinburgh is the definition of charming. When an American movie company decides it’s the ideal location to film their Christmas movie, the bookstore manager, Carmen Hogan, has reservations. But for the kind of money the studio is willing to pay, how can she say no? A perfectly charming story. (Oh, and if you want to give a 2-book set as a gift, be sure to check out Colgan’s previous story set at McCredie’s, The Christmas Bookshop.)
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a secret. Not only does she love Christmas, she’s been writing bestselling Christmas romances for a decade. When her publisher demands she write a Hanukkah romance, Rachel hits a wall of writer’s block. Seeking inspiration at the annual Matzah Ball, she runs into her old arch-enemy from summer camp, Jacob Greenberg. Hilarity, romance, and Hannukah magic ensue! A sweet, fun-filled romance for people of any faith or none.
2023 Holiday Reading Recommendations: Books for Kids and Families
Every one of my six granddarlings knows that when Christmas rolls around, they can count on getting at least one great book from me. Because the joy of reading is the greatest gift you can give to any child, here are my recommendations for books that kids and families will love.
Instead of an Advent calendar, consider getting the littles in your life this delightful story of a mouse on a quest to deliver a lost Christmas letter to Santa. With 25 chapters (one for every day on the countdown to Christmas) and accompanying ideas for holiday activities, it’s a perfect Christmas read aloud book for families.
Little dancers will love this story of four young ballet dancers who are getting ready for an opening night performance of The Nutcracker ballet. (For ages 3-7)
Based on the story of the real owl who was discovered in the Rockefeller Christmas tree, this picture book is about a little owl who finds kind friends in the big city after his tree is cut down and taken to New York. (For ages 4-8)
This sweet picture book tells the story of a hibernating bear who is roused from sleep and wanders into the home of a sweet but nearsighted old woman who mistakes him for her Rabbi and invites him to join her Hanukkah celebrations. (For ages 2-6)
Join an immigrant family who live in New York’s Lower East Side in 1912, as Mama, Papa, and the five daughters prepare for the Hanukkah, the festival of lights. A charming story with lovely illustrations and a bit of history. (For ages 3-7)
Older kids will love this chapter book about Nikolas, a poor boy whose nickname is Christmas. When his father disappears, Nikolas must travel to find him. Along the way, he encounters surprising friends and magical worlds, and discover that he might be the only one who can save the spirit of Christmas. (For ages 7-12)
Originally released in 1952 by the author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, this chapter book is the story of two orphaned sisters, Nancy and Plum, who escape their dreadful boarding school in search of Christmas magic and a better life. The story is timeless and the illustrations, by the same artist who illustrated the Harry Potter series, bring it wonderfully to life. (For ages 8 to 11)
2023 Holiday Reading Recommendations: Devotionals for Advent
For practicing Christians, this time of year is about much more than presents, cookies, and holiday lights. As we enter the season of advent, books that focus our hearts and minds on God’s greatest gift can add meaning, wonder, and joy to Christmas.
The Christmas story is one of birth and rebirth, and women played a central role in it. These forty devotional readings help us ponder what Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna may have felt and experienced during that first Christmas.
By focusing on the words of the Old Testament that foreshadow the coming of Christ, these devotional readings open the reader’s eyes to God’s goodness and faithfulness and help us see the Christmas story with fresh wonder and gratitude.