Bookish Musings: What Makes a Christmas Book?

 
 

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.

Christmas Activities

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.

Christmas Characters

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.

Retellings

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.

Overall Thoughts

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!

 
 
 
 

Talk to me!

What do you think makes something a Christmas book?

 
 
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Your Thoughts

 

7 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: What Makes a Christmas Book?

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  1. Samy @ insamyniac

    I don’t think I’ve read a “real” Christmas book, ever. Since I never was interested in reading that specifically topic. I don’t feel the need to, either. I only watch movies from time to time and yeah, I think the decorations, festival feeling overall, Christmas trees and eventually the night before Christmas or similar, should definitely be involved to give the Christmassy feeling. If no snow, because that’s legit, than at least some songs or decisions

  2. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    The Victorians had a tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve, so there are lots of really old ghost stories that don’t feel Christmassy to us but would have been considered Christmas stories by the people who wrote them. Also, I think there’s a middle grade book that’s set in summer, but the characters celebrate Christmas all year. I don’t remember the title.

  3. Anne@HeadFullofBooks

    Good Christmas stories must involve characters who are touched by the magic and mystery of the season. For me, that involves spiritual growth or awareness. For example: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story about an awful family who attempt to take over the church’s pageant but in the end are profoundly touched by the message of Christmas love and the birth of Jesus.

    Let’s discuss: Best Books of the year

  4. Karen

    This reminds me of the is Diehard a Christmas movie discussion lol

    For me, I like when the time is set during, or leading up to the holidays and the characters partake in some type of holiday activity.

  5. Lola

    I do feel the timing around Christmas and the Christmas activities are the most common ones I associate with Christmas books. Then again I don’t think I’ve read any set on the North Pole or with Christmas characters so far.

    I coincidentally ended up reading a Christmas themed book around Christmas time this year and it was fun. I usually don’t read a lot of Christmas themed books, but I also remember a Christmas themed cozy mystery from earlier this year.