The Best Books to Bring Holiday Cheer to Your Shelves

by | Dec 2022

Woman reading a book in bed.


Gift yourself and those on your list with seasonal reads.

Whether you need new recipes to liven up your holiday table, a heartwarming story to help you decompress, a fresh take on holiday traditions or ideas for books to wrap and send, keep reading.

With the help of area retailers, including the General Store of Minnetonka, The Thinking Spot, Leipold’s Gift & Antiques and Lake Effect Nautical Gifts, we rounded up a selection locally-sourced books—perfect for tucking into this December.

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
This classic holiday tale tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cranky old miser who sees the error of his ways and learns to embrace the spirit of the season with the help of three ghosts. Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree
Colleen Monroe

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree book

This story of a lonely tree waiting at the edge of the Christmas tree farm, wishing to find his holiday home, is told beautifully in rhyme. It shares an important story that lets children of all ages know that it is OK to be different. Lake Effect Nautical Gifts

Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book
Betty Crocker
Originally released in 1963, this kitchen staple remains a best-seller and a perennial favorite. Containing more than 450 recipes, including a large section devoted to holiday cookies, it’s the kind of cookbook that eventually requires no bookmark as favorite recipes like Mary’s Sugar Cookies and Candy Canes are clearly marked with butter and flour stains. General Store of Minnetonka

Christmas in Minnesota
Marilyn Ziebarth, Brian Horrigan
Memories and vintage recipes abound from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, shining a light on holiday traditions that are distinctly Minnesotan. Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book
Diane E. Muldrow
Lovers of the nostalgia-inducing gold foil-bound children’s books will delight in this clever take on the ups and downs of holidays with illustrations mined from classic Little Golden Books. Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques

Family Christmas Book
Traditions Press
Create a historical journal of family holidays. This book has space to record 25 years of Christmas traditions with photos and descriptions of who was there, where you went, what you gave and received, etc. It makes a great gift for newly married couples. General Store of Minnetonka

Joy to the World: A Family Christmas Treasury
Ann Beneduce
Explore the traditions and symbols of Advent through carols, stories, plays, biblical passages and illustrations. A diverse set of authors from Hans Christian Andersen to Beatrix Potter to Truman Capote helps the reader delve into the history of folklore and holiday customs from across the globe. Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques

Santa’s Secret
Denise Brennan-Nelson
A young detective sets out on a mission to discover Santa’s secret after a Christmas trip to the city where she finds Santas scattered all around. Lake Effect Nautical Gifts

Scandi Christmas
Christiane Bellstedt Myers
Scandinavian flavor abounds in this book. Find more than 45 DIY projects to bring a taste of the old country to your holiday home. Projects include Danish paper cone decorations for the tree, a scented anise wreath and twig candle holders. Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques

Talk: The Science of Conversation
Elizabeth Stokoe
Using evidence from 50 years of research on the science of talk, author Elizabeth Stokoe offers insights on how to have better conversations. (Whose family needs this to prep for holiday gatherings?) The Thinking Spot

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
Priya Parker
The author advocates for a “human-centered approach” to gathering in this book that aims to create meaningful and memorable experiences by focusing on the distinctiveness of the people involved. The Thinking Spot

The Art and the Science of Food Pairing
Peter Coucquyt

The Art & Science of Foodpairing

Pair coffee with boiled beets to make them taste more like cheese. Sprinkle cocoa on cauliflower to turn kids into veggie lovers. The concept of food pairing promises to transform the eating experience with 10,000 flavor matches designed to make even the finickiest eater find tastebud paradise. Taste wheels and color keys help cooks find pairings and achieve desired taste results. Consider adding some extra fun to the holiday table by inviting some intriguing pairings! The Thinking Spot

The Mouse in the Hammock, a Christmas Tale
Bethany Brevard

The Mouse in the Hammock

This title introduces kids to the concept of small acts of kindness. From his cozy hammock nestled in the Christmas tree, a mouse wakes at night to perform a series of good deeds, including taste testing cookies, hanging mistletoe and tucking in baby Jesus. Lake Effect Nautical Gifts

The Physics of Christmas
Roger Highfield
Christmas is a magical season, but what if we looked at holiday traditions through a scientific lens? This book looks at the science behind some well-loved Christmas rituals, answering thought-provoking questions like: Can reindeer fly? Could scientists clone the perfect Christmas tree? Was the star of Bethlehem really a comet? Why is Rudolph’s nose red? How does Santa manage to deliver presents to an estimated 842 million households in a single night? The Thinking Spot

Given the unpredictability of inventory, check with retailers for product availability and cost.

Writer’s picks:

Baking for the Holidays
Sarah Kieffer
Drool-worthy food photos accompany a delightful collection of recipes, perfect to tackle during the holidays. Kieffer offers breakfast favorites (Classic Cinnamon Rolls, Coffee-Cardamom Monkey Bread and Cheater’s Croissant Dough), showstopping desserts (Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake, Crème Brûlée Pumpkin Pie and Frozen Bonbons), plus a section on giftable goodies.

Kwanzaa: 7 Principles, Celebration, Decorations, Traditions and Symbols: A Kwanzaa Book For Kids
L.A. Amber
Illustrations and rhymes introduce Kwanzaa to children. Learn about the seven principles, the traditional kente cloth that is worn and holiday’s history.

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express
Maudie Powell-Tuck
The beautifully illustrated book follows Mia as she travels on the Reindeer Express through exotic lands to deliver a card to her grandfather. Die-cuts and lift-the-flap doors create an interactive experience.

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa
Donna L. Washington and Shane W. Evans

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa

Because Granna Rabbit is sick, the family won’t be celebrating the Karamu, a big feast that takes place on the sixth night of Kwanzaa. Li’l Rabbit is determined to save the day.

The Christmas Bookshop
Jenny Colgan

The Christmas Bookshop

Colgan takes the reader to Edinburgh, capturing the sights and spirit of the historic city. She tells the story of Carmen, a self-destructive young woman who softens after spending the holiday season working at a failing bookshop. Colgan paints a magical picture of Edinburgh, the topsy-turvy McCredie bookshop and the luminous Victoria Street that you’ll inevitably find yourself racing to book a flight to Scotland this Christmas.

The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook: 50 Traditional Recipes for Every Occasion
Beth A. Lee

The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook: 50 Traditional Recipes for Every Occasion

Baking throughout the year brings joy and celebration. This is an ideal gift for novice and seasoned bakers and features 50 classic recipes for holidays throughout the year—or for those “just because” moments that call for something sweetly homemade.

Find titles online or at area bookshops.


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