If you’re like me and secretly begin counting down the days until Christmas from as early as Boxing Day, you probably also enjoy revelling in the festive atmosphere as much as possible in December, when it’s deemed socially acceptable to do so. To help you savour those special holiday feels, I’ve prepared a list of the 6 most magical books you need to read between mouthfuls of gingerbread and recitations of Love Actually and Home Alone.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a strong contender for the most beloved Christmas story of all time. A great read for children and adults alike, it tells the heartening tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s encounter with Christmases past, present and future, and his transformation along the way from a miserable, old killjoy to a warm and generous gentleman full of Christmas spirit. What’s best is that when you’re finished reading the book, there’s a handful of film incarnations (of varying quality) to choose from.

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries by Otto Penzler

When my sister gave me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago, it felt like I’d won the literary lottery! Collated by the award-winning editor, Otto Penzler, The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries contains 60 nostalgic and thrilling festive-season crimes by a variety of writers, including some classic authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy. Interwoven with humour, suspense, drama and romance, there’s something for everyone in this masterpiece.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The opening chapter of Little Women is set in the living room of the March family on Christmas Eve, 1861. Their father is away at war and it’s hard times for the four sisters – Meg, Amy, Beth and Jo – and their cherished Marmee. The tree by the fire has a conspicuous lack of presents underneath it and despite the girls’ wistful dreams of new dresses and pretty things; they end up having a positively jolly evening, singing carols and planning what they can buy their Marmee with the collective sum of the hard-saved money. It’s a beautiful story about what is truly important at Christmas time – family, laughing, kissing, charity and food.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I’ll admit that including Harry Potter in a list of Christmas books might seem like the desperate delusions of a fangirl, but trust me, J.K. Rowling’s depictions of the festive season are some of the most heartwarming in modern literature. Each Christmas, Hogwarts is transformed into a winter wonderland, with the dazzling decorations throughout the series including everything from everlasting icicles to live fairies, hooting golden owls and suits of armour charmed to sing carols. If reading about the Great Hall’s 12 enormous, frost-covered trees and abundance of holly and mistletoe doesn’t whet your holiday appetite, the descriptions of the annual Christmas Day feast definitely will!

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

The Danish have a word to describe the coziness of winter, ‘hygge’. For me, this conjures images of the extraordinarily charming and comfortable feeling of shutting yourself indoors, away from any distractions, and curling up on the couch by the fire with a hot chocolate and a good book. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas will immerse you in hygge… but with the added mystery of what happens behind civilised people’s front doors.

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