17 Swanky Things

Favorite Swanky Holiday Reads

For our inaugural Top Seventeen post, the Swanky Seventeens share some of their favorite December reading traditions. Because what’s the holiday without food, family, friends–and an overabundance of books?

By Shawncalhoun (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

1. I have a beautifully illustrated picture book version of “The Gift of the Magi” that we love to read during the holidays. It always helps me remember that it’s not about finding the perfect gift, but it is about loving and sharing with those we care about. -Katie Nelson, Author of THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP

2. Growing up, my family always read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, and it’s still one of my favorite holiday traditions.” -Alexandra Ott, author of RULES FOR THIEVES

3. Growing up, Christmas vacation was the perfect time to curl up with a book (or a whole stack of them) and read for days on end. Even though Harry Potter didn’t come out until I was in college, I love to revisit the series at Christmas-time. It brings back the same magical reading experience I felt as a kid.—Breeana Shields, author of POISON’S KISS

4. One of my winter favorites was Little Women. It was long (very important to baby Sarah), about sisters (I’m one of five), and was the perfect book to take back to bed after playing outside in the snow.–Sarah Nicole Lemon, author of UNTITLED DEBUT (super awesome title, I know)

5. We’ve still got our old, beat-up copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s in an anthology of Seuss stories that includes Yertle the Turtle, Gertrude McFuzz, The Lorax, and The Big Brag. Among the many reasons why it’s one of my favorite holiday stories is the fact that it reminds me that those other poems are in there, and that each one (in addition to being, still, some of the best metric poetry written in the last 100 years) has a message applicable to the holidays. Yertle reminds us that there are others out there to be conscientious of. Gertrude tells us to be grateful for what we have. The worm teaches us to be humble, and the Grinch delivers one of the more powerful anti-materialist lessons ever delivered in a form instantly palatable and pleasing to children. As for the Lorax? Well…I still kinda want a thneed for Christmas…–Jake Burt, author of WE ARE (SO NOT) THE TREVORS

6. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in our family, so a big holiday favorite has always been Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas, by Margaret Moorman. As the title suggests, it’s a story about a girl who helps her father light the menorah at Hanukkah and then decorates the tree with her mother at Christmas. Except in my family, it’s the other way around! — Melissa Roske, author of KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN

6. Good King Wenceslas and The Little Match Girl were annual reads on or around Christmas. I love both because they remind us, regardless of beliefs, to be charitable and considerate to those less fortunate.–Christina June, author of VALEDICTIONS

7. My kids are well past the picture book stage, but we’ll always adore Jane Chapman and Karma Wilson’s Bear Stays Up for Christmas. –Kate Hart, Author of AFTER THE FALL

8. My answer’s going to go in a slightly different direction. I’m a horrible gift giver. Just the worst. So about five years ago, I hoodwinked both my brothers into loving all of the fantasy books I did. Ever since, Christmas has meant watching them begin the literary journey I loved most that year. Last year, it was Golden Son by Pierce Brown. Before that The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I’m always reading over the holidays, but the books that stick with me through the years are the ones I was lucky enough to share with my brothers.” – Scott Reintgen, THE BLACK HOLE OF BROKEN THINGS

9. As a kid I loved reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe just before Christmas because the wicked queen gave such a terrifying chill to winter and made the eventual arrival of Christmas that much sweeter. Now that my kids are older, I’m looking forward to reading this aloud with them.–Rosalyn Eves, author of THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

10. For me the holidays are a time when you get to revisit old favorites, rest up, reboot your brain…and overeat. Diving into a fantasy world that feels like home is my mental version of comfort food, which is why I’m all about rereading the books that made me happiest when I was a kid, in particular The Hobbit and the Harry Potter series. They’re especially great paired with cookies-you-stole-from-Santa’s-plate! – Jilly Gagnon, author of #FAMOUS

11. Growing up, my step-mom made a long stocking with with the “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem on it, and I always loved reading it when we pulled the Christmas decorations out. Then, around Christmas we’d often read The Velveteen Rabbit and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I haven’t read either one of these stories for some time now – but perhaps I will this year! Nowadays, as an adult, I often re-read the Harry Potter books during the cold months – not sure why. Maybe because much of the story takes place during this time.” — JMM Nuanez, author of JACK AND BIRDIE

12. My favorite Christmas book as a child was “The Sweet Smell of Christmas,” a scratch-and-sniff Golden Book that tells the story of how a small bear and his family celebrate Christmas. I wore out the little tabs of scent with my constant scratching – hot chocolate, candy canes, a pine tree, an orange. After college, I bought several copies in case the sweet smells wore out. My kids now love it just as much I do – in fact, this year my twelve-year-old sighed after we read it and said, “This smells like nostalgia.”–Sara Biren, author of THE LAST THING YOU SAID

13. Every Christmas I read the McGregor Brides and the McGregor Grooms books by Nora Roberts. I’m a firm believer that people are more open to love during the holidays, so I like to celebrate the season by reading happily ever after stories.– Nisha Sharma, Author of MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE

14. Every year, my daughters and I pull out the picture book The Twelve Days of Christmas in California, by Laura Rader, because sometimes you need to take a break from books about snow and mittens and celebrate the season with surfers and sea lions instead.–Danielle Mages Amato, author of A MEMORY OF OBJECTS

15. I really enjoy Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, which takes place during Christmas. I love that two teens who are isolated during the holidays find a way to fill the days with adventure instead of melancholy.–Kate Watson, author of SEEKING MANSFIELD

16. A Christmas Carol. I love the emotional transformation of Scrooge. It reminds me that all people, including myself, have the ability to change for the better.–Elliah Terry, author of I AM CALLIOPE JUNE

17. There’s a really moving little novel about faith and family and childhood that nowhere enough people have read, called Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice. It’s about a little girl in Australia who has two imaginary friends. One day she lets her dad take them to the mine where he works and he LOSES them and the girl is so traumatized the whole town gets involved. For years, I gave the novel as a gift. This is embarrassing but back when I interviewed movie stars for a living I actually gave copies to Cate Blanchett AND Renee Zellweger. Anyway, I’m going to-reread “P & D” this Xmas, and maybe read it aloud to my son. There are super-sad bits, but ultimately it just lifts you up.–Jeff Giles, author of THE MERCY RULE

What are your favorite books to read during the holidays?


2 thoughts on “Favorite Swanky Holiday Reads

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