It’s Christmas! Please imagine me in a fuzzy robe with a big mug of cocoa, a tree with twinkling lights in the background as I sip at too-large mug of tea. Christmas is a time I always associate with books—and not just because I get them at Christmas every year. It’s one of the most delightful days to settle in and read something fun and sweet. And why not read a book set at Christmas?
If you want something that isn’t a romance—well, you’re out of luck. It seems that YA books about Christmas are required, if unofficially, to be romances. (And very white romances, too. Hey, publishers: can we get some sweet Christmas romances by some authors of color that aren’t in anthologies? I have a few names in mind….)
But if you want a sweet romance to top off your Christmas, grab a mug of hot cocoa and settle in with one of these holiday reads.
Decked with Holly, by Marni Bates
What’s better than Christmas? A Christmas cruise! Unless, of course, you’re Holly Dayton, who is trapped sea sick on the ocean with her two cousins from hell. When she stumbles into a suite to escape, she collides with Dominic Wyatt, drummer of one of the hottest bands in America—and he needs Holly to pose as his girlfriend to stop a potential scandal. Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes, and combined with Christmas? I’m in.
My New Crush Gave to Me, by Shani Petroff
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me this adorable new book to read. Charlie knows what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz, the most popular guy in school, who barely knows she exists. She thinks she can trick him into falling for her through their school’s Secret Santa exchange, but she has no idea what to get him. His annoying cousin J.D. Ortiz might be able to help, but the more he helps, the more unsure she is that she knows what she wants.
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, by Liz Czukas
Like any holiday retail worker, Chloe just wants to go home after her shift. But on Christmas even, she ends up trapped in the break room with five of her coworkers, accused of stealing upwards of $10,000. Not even being forced to spend time with her crush Tyson could make this a good night—unless, of course, they can band together to clear their names. As a bookseller, being trapped at work on Christmas Eve is my worst nightmare, but oh, does it make for a fun story.
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, by Melissa de la Cruz
As somebody who studied Austen in college and who watches the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice once a month—that hand flex! That rain proposal!—I keep all retellings of the book on my radar, and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looks like one of the sweeter ones. While technically an adult novelvour heroine Darcy is 29, somebody who has never been in love and has no plans to be, until she meets Luke Bennett—it’s written by Melissa de la Cruz, whose known for her YA books, meaning that this one has plenty of crossover appeal. (And a nice YA price point, too!)
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
It’s a bookstore-based Christmas romance! What else do you need to know? Okay, okay: it’s about Lily, who leaves a notebook full of challenges on her favorite bookstore shelf, and Dash, who picks it up and decides to do them, leading them to each other as they pass the notebook back and forth across New York City. But most importantly: it’s a holiday romance that starts in a bookstore!
My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
Why limit yourself to one holiday story when you can have 12? Though not every story in this delightful anthology is Christmas related, its all-star line-up features stories by Holly Black, David Levithan, Matt de la Peña, Jenny Han, and more. Quite the worthy Christmas gift, indeed!
Kiss Me in New York, by Catherine Rider
Picture it: Christmas Eve, JFK Airport. The worst possible place to spend your holiday in New York City, and yet Charlotte is there: a British student, newly dumped, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester ever. And native New Yorker Anthony is about to stride into her life, right after he’s dumped by his girlfriend at the airport in the middle of the holiday crowd. Stuck together when a blizzard blows in, they set out into the city together, ready to get over their exes—and maybe fall for each other in the process.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase, by Cynthia Hand
There’s nothing that screams “holiday” more than “ghosts,” I think. The ghost of Christmas tried to warn Holly that she was selfish and spoiled. She ignored them, and she died. Now she works as their new Ghost of Christmas Past, but this year’s Scrooge could change everything. It’s a truly spirited holiday ghost romance!