Book Friday: The Twelve Reads of Christmas.

Some days you wake up brim full of life, optimism and opportunity, keen to embrace the world and get on with life.

Some days you don’t.

I’m not too bad today, honestly: I could have done with sitting in my cosy home for another couple of hours. I’d have enjoyed a second cup of tea today, but needs must and my best blog writing happens in the office, before 10 o clock and usually before Mr Hygge Jem turns up to interrupt with a pot of fresh coffee and a natter. That’s a welcome interruption, of course. I’ve usually been working for an hour or two by then, so a break and a catch up with the man who is literally my partner in everything is a good idea. If you’re not having a good day, though, I send my love and hopes for better tomorrows. I can cope with the cold as long as it’s dry. Or snow. I can cope with snow.

Today’s Book Friday post is a hodge podge of books old and new that I’ve collected for Christmas. These are the ones that I am reading, will read or in some cases have read and want to read again. There’s something about cold November and December nights that makes me want to curl up in my big armchair, throw a crocheted blanket over me and read. By candlelight? Possibly, that’s the major advantage of a Kindle with backlighting. The books are in no particular order, but I’ve put my most recent read at the top, simply because that’s the list they’re in on my Kindle.

The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain: My current read, and really enjoying it. Freya moves to a new garden and a new life in Norfolk, not Suffolk, and sets out to create a stunning Winter Garden in the grounds of Prospect Place. I’m enjoying the characters, the romance, the whole Christmas feel of the novel and the fact that if you take the advice of many of the main characters you will be living a healthier life with better mental health by getting outside, having events to look forward to and making yourself a part of a supportive community. I hadn’t realised there were two other books set in the same community, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square and Poppy’s Recipe For Life, both of which are summer reads, but I have read many of her other books set at Christmas time, including The Christmas Wishlist last year.

A Winter’s Tale by Trisha Ashley: I’m sure Christmas Chick Lit existed before A Winter’s Tale, but I was too busy to find it and read it. Besides, it usually seemed so samey, with safe London houses and kitchens with Agas. A Winter’s Tale is set in a non-specific Lancashire town called Sticklepond where the local hall, Winter’s End, reputedly once had Shakespeare visit. I love that Trisha Ashley came from St Helens, near to where I was born, and that St Helens which must be one of the least exciting and vibrant towns ever is mentioned in the book. That was why I read it first. And I’ve reread it since, and still love it.

The Christmas Invitation by Trisha Ashley: (TBR pile) I’m hoping that this year’s book will be just as cosy. It’s described as ‘a nice mug of mulled wine in a book form’, and that can’t be bad, can it? I love Trisha’s descriptions, so I’m anticipating a pleasant few hours with mug and may be a chocolate bar (that’s the purpose of choc-lit, after all) finding out why Meg isn’t Christmassy and how she finds celebrating Christmas for the first time ever.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas: I read this in one weekend, to the chagrin of my living room which remained unpolished for the week. If you’re missing the scents and sound of a continental Christmas market, then this book works. It’s set in an unspecified German town which reminded me of either Heidelberg or Monschau, but I couldn’t say for sure. There’s baking, skating, baking, drinking gluhwein, baking…. and recipes for the food at the end. I’m definitely having a go at the Lebkuchen sometime over the next month. Oh… and there’s old people, a lust for life and a lovely romance as well.

One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan: (TBR pile). I have read and enjoyed prevous festive offerings from Sarah Morgan. The Christmas Sisters was a cosy read the year before last, with snow and Scotland playing a big part. This one, also, features Scotland and I expect a large but cosy house somewhere. With a mother and two daughters who need to find time to bond, I’m expecting quality relationship angst and a happy ending.

Christmas Stories by Noel Streatfeild: (TBR pile) An original collection of stories published in annuals and read on the radio during the 40s, 50s and 60s. I’m expecting to get very nostalgic reading them, and to enjoy a new Streatfeild.

The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders: An oldie, but still a goldie. Magazine editor, Carol, has no time to live let alone celebrate, while newly-wed Beth is trying to live up to her predecessor’s past reputation as the Best at Christmas. With rock musicians, unexpected snow, a family in need of communication and romance in the air, it’s a perfect cosy read by one of my favourite authors. I love Warnings of Gales, which is an annual summer reread.

Miracle on Christmas Street by Annie O’Neill: (TBR pile) In this choc-lit, described as a cross between The Holiday and Love Actually, the inhabitants of Christmas Street set out to be a living Advent calendar, with different events being held on different days. Jess moves in, and finds community spirit, romance… and a curmudgeonly old man who needs to learn what the true spirit of Christmas is. I’ll let you know if I liked it on Facebook.

The Festive House by Alison May: Short but sweet reminder to enjoy Christmas, as well as celebrate it. It’s full of little pointers for making the home and your life more graceful over Christmas. Little things, like swapping over to a different scent of handwash, or putting bells on each doorway so that you are always giving angels wings.

Christmas A History by Judith Flanders: (TBR pile) Why do we celebrate Christmas in December? How was Christmas celebrated in Henry VIII’s time? Was Dickens really the man who brought back Christmas? With information on mumming, mistletoe and mince pies, this book contains all the info you need to become a very smart Christmas quizzer.

The Alternative Advent Calendar by Gillian Monks: At a time when many Advent calendars are filled with chocolate, lavish gifts, stationery, perfumes, gins and the like, this short(ish) book has ways to celebrate the run up to Christmas by doing and giving. They’re not complicated or expensive acts, either. Simple things, like sharing a pot of tea, walking in the wild and writing cards can make a difference to your life and others.

The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch: So many of our Christmas traditions and stories have their beginning not in the Bible, but in the prehistory before then. Father Christmas traces his origins back to Odin and beyond that to Greek Gods of yore. Tres, wreaths, reindeer are all pagan in origin, and we need to own that fact and either live with it or leave the traditions alone. The book traces many traditions and has many stories told at Christmas and others less well known. Hild, for example, from Iceland, with her mysterious Christmas Eve ride. If you are a strict Christian and eschew any paganism, this book won’t suit you at all, but if you’re mostly secular and interested in myths and legends, it will.

Winter Ghosts: Classic Ghost Stories for Christmas collected by Black Heath Editions: (TBR pile) When they say classic, they mean classic, but this cheap ebook (at 99p) has an assortment of ghost stories from all the famous authors. Charles Dickens, M R James, Elizabeth Gaskell as well as some lesser-known authors like Frank Stockton, Grant Allen and E G Swain. Read by candlelight with a glass of whiskey: alone, for maximum chill-blooding pleasure.

And there’s my list. With a few other books, perhaps some more rereads, I shall be happy and busy until Christmas arrives. What’s on your Festive Reads list this year? I’m always interested to know what others have on their TBR or which books come highly recommended. Leave a comment below, I’m fascinated to know!

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.

Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.

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