Normally I do recommendation posts with SFF Christmas books once December rolls around, but I’m not really feeling up to putting one of those together. (You can check out my previous posts, if you want some recs!) So I thought, maybe a little discussion instead? I’ve read quite a few supposed Christmas books, but some of them have definitely felt more Christmas than others. Anyway, the categories below are not necessarily all requirements, just some different things I think can factor into how Christmassy a book feels.
Takes Place at Christmas Time
Most Christmas books take place around that time. Not surprising. Though writing this has me thinking, could a book set at a different time of year still potentially be a Christmas book? And I sorta think it could, if the characters were celebrating in some way. Christmas in July, and all that.
But also I’m taking the stance that being set in December, even having characters eat a dinner on Christmas or whatever, doesn’t automatically make something a Christmas book. I’ve read some books like that. If that’s the only nod to the holiday, if it’s just an afterthought, just the time of year the story happens to be taking place, then it doesn’t feel very Christmassy.
This! This is where the magic is. It doesn’t have to be specific activities, just the characters doing something to celebrate or get into the spirit.
Here’s another interesting one. Because obviously having Santa or North Pole elves or other holiday-related characters can add to the feel when the book happens around Christmas and includes the aforementioned activities.
But what if it’s, like, Santa falling in love during the summer? Or one of his reindeer murdering people in February? (I have not read a book about this, please do not ask me for a rec.) Would that count? I’m torn. I feel like, if the character is the ONLY Christmassy thing, then I’d prob still tag it as such, but eh. It wouldn’t quite live up to the title of “Christmas book.”
North Pole Setting
I’ve read a handful of book that take place in the North Pole. It’s a fun idea. And I feel like, as long as there is Christmas-related stuff and characters and the version of the North Pole is a very holiday-centric one where they eat gingerbread cookies and have lights up and whatnot, then it does feel Christmassy, regardless of the time of year.
I’ve read numerous retellings of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. I’ve liked a lot of them! But I don’t think they automatically make something a Christmas book. Like one that started on the holiday but then expanded into a whole separate thing. And one that turned out to be the backstory of a character. But it just depends on how it’s done.
Obviously this is all just silly and subjective. There are no rules for what books are allowed to be considered Christmas books. But I guess I feel like it’s more about the vibes and feelings and activities than the time of year or characters. And not necessarily cutesy feelings and activities, killing evil snowmen with candycanes works too. (I actually have read a book about that one lol.) Though I think the more of these things included in a book, the more Christmassy it feels!