Monday, December 17, 2012

Reading Christmas

There are a lot of ways you can get into the spirit of the season at this time of year. Music helps. Decorations are great. Christmas lights, eggnog, trimmed trees—all of them can sort of ease you into things. But for me, books are one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. I’m a sucker for Christmas books.

When I as a kid, it was A Christmas Carol, which really scared the crap out of me, ironic since I’m now writing ghost stories myself. As a teenager, I discovered Ngaio Marsh’s Tied Up In Tinsel. It has a wonderful description of a fancy Christmas celebration at an English manor house. Of course, it’s a mystery rather than a romance, so there’s not a lot of canoodling going on (although Inspector Alleyn does briefly get it on with his wife), but it was still a book that made me start feeling Christmasy.

These days, I’ve got a wide selection of books I can use to get that holiday spirit going since romance writers seem particularly fond of Christmas settings. I find I gravitate first to historicals, maybe because of that early Dickens influence. Stephanie Laurens’s The Promise In a Kiss is set in eighteenth century London and France, and the descriptions of decorations and parties are particularly lush. Eloisa James’s An Affair Before Christmas once got me through a thoroughly ghastly night snowbound in Wichita (the turnpike had closed down) and kept me from losing my Christmas spirit altogether. Mary Balogh has lots of Christmas books, including Christmas Belle, which combines both a Christmas plot and a secret baby plot—how much more romantic can you get? Barbara Metzger also has lots of Christmas historicals, and there are lots of Christmas regency anthologies.

There are lots of contemporary Christmas books too, of course, like the Santa Baby anthology with Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips. Another that stands out in my mind is Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Christmas, which got me through another snowy trip, this time through Nebraska.

There are also paranormal Christmas books, like A Clockwork Christmas by Jenny Schwartz, J.K. Coi, PG Forte and Stacy Gail. PG has another Christmas book out this year from Loose Id, Finders Keepers.

And speaking of PG's new books, other Naughties have Christmas books too. Skylar Kade has Christmas Packages. Kelly Jamieson has All I Want For Christmas. And Kate Davies has Home For Christmas. The closest I come is Be My Baby which ends on Christmas, but to be honest Thanksgiving gets more time than Christmas in  that book.

For this year’s journey to Iowa, I’m splitting my Christmas reading between historical and contemporary. I’m packing Grace Burrowes’s Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish, the historical (I’ve already finished her Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight). But I’m also taking Lisa Kleypas’s Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor, to cover the contemporary end of things.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed lots of Christmas books, and they’ve made my holidays a lot happier, in some cases saving me from holiday meltdowns that wouldn’t have been a good idea at all. Thanks all you romance writers who’ve come through for me! Maybe one of these days I’ll come up with a Christmas book of my own.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas book, maybe one you reread every year or so just to get you in the right mood? Give me some more recommendations, y’all!

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