Between the shopping and the wrapping and the decorating and the baking and the parties, the holiday concerts and plays at schools, the mad idea you get two days before Christmas to bake artisanal sourdough bread for all of your neighbors (just me?)—in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of December, it gets difficult to find reading time. Even though reading by the Christmas tree with a mug of your favorite holiday beverage might just be the best thing a book lover can do in December. Short stories to the rescue!
Holiday Reading for the Harried and Frenzied
One of the awesome things about a collection of short stories is that you don’t have to read the whole book and yet you still get that satisfying sense of having finished something. So any one of these books are great to have around when you arrive at a little block of solitude in the midst of your holiday festivities. Pick it up, read a story, resume wrapping. Happy reading!
10 Short Stories for the Holidays
By David Sedaris
Festive and funny!
By Jeanette Winterson
Novelist Winterson writes a short story every December; twelve of them are collected here, along with twelve recipes.
By J. R. R. Tolkein
Not exactly short stories in their purest form, but still excellent fun: the letters Tolkein wrote in Father Christmas’s voice to his children, full of adventure and battles and winter-coated animals.
By Stephanie Perkins
This is a collection of holiday stories written by popular young adult authors.
By Connie Willis
Even Willis’s introduction to her collection of Christmas stories is excellent. (“The Christmas-story writer has to walk a narrow tightrope between sentiment and skepticism, and most writers end up falling off into either cynicism or mawkish sappiness.”)
By Truman Capote
At long last you will understand fruitcake.
By P. D. James
Four holiday-themed murder mysteries by the Queen of Crime.
By Various Authors
This anthology brings together crime, thriller, and mystery writers who explore Christmas across the world.
By Diane Secker Tesdell
An anthology of classic Christmas stories, with authors ranging from Charles Dickens to Richard Ford, includes the original “The Night Before Christmas” tale.
By Michele Clarke and Taylor Plimpton
OK, this one is essays, not stories, but still: sardonic and bitter and endearing writing that explores the tension that can build up on a holiday.
Written by Amy, Reference Librarian