Article by:
Cher Collins, Contributing Writer

The December holidays are upon us! If the hustle and bustle of holiday prep leaves you little time to dive into your TBR list, keep things light with a few fun holiday books that will get you in a festive mode. And as 2023 comes to a close, we’ll review a few of the year’s best-selling titles and take a sneak peak at some reading challenges that will give you some ideas to expand your reading horizons. Grab a hot chocolate, snuggle in on the couch and enjoy the warmth of a good book on a cold night.

Mary Kay Andrews is the queen of beach reads, but she adds to her annual Christmas-time release with Bright Lights, Big Christmas. Not exactly new to the charts, Bright Lights, Big Christmas hits its stride just in time for readers looking for a cozy, Christmas book with a hint of romance. Every year around Christmas time, Kerry Tolliver’s family sells the trees from their farm in North Carolina on a street corner in Greenwich Village in New York City. After her father falls ill and she loses her job, Kerry decides to join her brother, Murphy and his dog, Queenie in New York. Kerry tows her ailing camper 700 miles north and spends the month leading up to Christmas with Murphy, Queenie, and the tight-knit community. Kerry meets neighbors of all ages that bring the spirit of the holidays to life for Kerry and the readers. Andrews illuminates New York at the holidays and creates a home away from home with the strong characterization of the neighborhood folks. A touch of romance for Kerry adds just enough dimension to this clean read and leaves the reader with the cozy warmth of a delightful holiday book.

Viola Shipman’s The Wishing Bridge has all the markings of a perfect holiday movie. Sharp businesswoman Henrietta Wegner heads home for the holidays with an ulterior motive. She wants to convince her parents to sell their world famous Christmas store. If they don’t sell, middle-aged Henrietta’s job could be on the line. With the fierce determination that has defined her career, she returns to small town Michigan with this one goal in mind. Shortly after coming home, Henrietta soon begins to realize the charm of small town living and reconnects with her family, friends, and even rekindles an old romance. Stuck between the demanding texts from her bosses and the heartwarming magic of her hometown, Henri finds herself at a crossroads. Will she complete the ruthless merger? Or will the magic of the holidays win her heart? Shipman gives readers just what they want for a warm holiday book. It’s easy to read and fall in love with the smalltown world that Shipman has created. The charm jumps right off the page!

In case you missed some of the biggest titles of 2023, here’s a quick look back. Leftover from 2022, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is still among the most in-demand titles. A single mother ahead of her time tests the social norms of the 1960’s. Now a huge hit on Apple TV, Lessons has proven to be the standout of the year. Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver is a modern retelling of Dickens’ David Copperfield. Set in Southern Appalachia, Demon exposes the hard-hitting reality of drug addiction and poverty against a story of survival and hope in the unlikeliest of places. Fantasy lovers are well aware of the huge success of Rebecca Yarros’ Empyrean series, The Fourth Wing (#1) and Iron Flame (#2) have combined to become one of the most popular series in a newly named Romantacy genre. Love or hate the label, Yarros succeeds in creating an adventurous world in which dragon riders train and compete in a war college. Elaborate plot twists and detailed world-building keeps readers turning pages in this surprise hit. Books 3, 4, 5 have yet to be announced, but readers are sure to stay tuned for the adventure, romance and the classic tale of good versus evil.

As we turn the page on 2023, the New Year is the perfect time to take stock of your reading year. Keeping a reading journal is always a good way to track how many books you’ve read. Some journals include space to rate and critique books. Many online tools like Goodreads will let you share your experiences with friends and family. Reading challenges are a good way to step out of your reading comfort zone. Local libraries and online book clubs are a great resource to explore if you need guidance. Check with your state library systems too. The Massachusetts Center for the Book has an annual Reading Challenge as the new year begins. Each month, participants can choose a theme, a genre or an author suggested by the challenge.

Set a goal for the new year to read more books than you did last year! You won’t be sorry! Best wishes for a warm, happy and healthy holiday season. However you celebrate, happy holiday reading!

By Published On: December 1, 2023Categories: Book Review

About the Author: Cher Collins

Cher Collins is a librarian by day who once made a New Year's resolution to write more. She enjoys the outdoors, as long as it is not biting her and she aspires to make her bed everyday. Cher is also an amateur genealogist whose family stories are fodder for future historical fiction novels. She watches more Netflix than she should, is a self-proclaimed coffee nut, and truly appreciates the little things in life. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, teenage daughter and rescue dog named Opie.

Share This Story!


Explore the Western Mass Women Magazine!


Recent Articles