A nerdy secret: I match my playlists to what I’m reading. A spooky thriller? I listen to soundtracks from Jessica Jones and The Social Network. Historical fiction that takes place in Paris? I turn up “La Vie en Rose.” So, given that I start blasting Mariah Carey over Thanksgiving leftovers, I thought I’d do the reverse—match some of the most iconic holiday songs to our favorite books!
“Last Christmas” Travel back in time to Maelyn’s last Christmas—it was only yesterday. But unfortunately she has to relive the holiday over and over, until she gets it right and figures out just what (or who) she wants for Christmas. IN A HOLIDAZE is an unexpected rom-com that will make you want to decorate cookies, blast Christmas music, and put on the Hallmark channel until 2021.
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.
Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” If you ignore absolutely every lyric and focus on the unforgettable rendition from Elf by Will Ferrell and (ew, blonde) Zooey Deschanel, this song is a holiday classic! However, lines like “Say what’s in this drink?” absolutely deserve a twisty revenge-filled plot as a tonic. Layne Fargo’s newest thriller, THEY NEVER LEARN, follows Scarlett Clark, a college professor who is as good at putting together lesson plans on feminist literature as she is at planning meticulously executed murders. But don’t worry: she only kills men who really deserve it.
From the author of the “raw, ingenious, and utterly fearless” (Wendy Walker, USA TODAY bestselling author) Temper comes a dynamic psychological thriller about two women who give bad men exactly what they deserve.
Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.
Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.
Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay...and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.
Featuring Layne Fargo’s trademark “propulsive writing style” (Kirkus Reviews) and “sinister, of the moment” (Chicago Review of Books) suspense, They Never Learn is a feminist serial killer story perfect for fans of Killing Eve and Chelsea Cain.
“Let it Snow!” I swear, even though I read this book in late summer, I could feel myself getting icy chills as I read! When coworkers attending a corporate retreat are snowed in at a luxurious ski lodge, the group must try to survive as food becomes scarce, the ski lodge gets colder, and an unknown killer starts picking off their colleagues. Ware’s descriptions of the ski lodge will have you curled by the fire while you read to stay warm.
“The Agatha Christie of our generation.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Diabolically clever.” —Riley Sager, author of Final Girls
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.
Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.
When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.
As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” Have you ever wished you could confront all the problematic things about The Bachelor? Kate Stayman-London has done just that in her incredible, romantic debut, ONE TO WATCH. Bea, the first plus-size contestant on a Bachelor-esque dating show, is out to find love! You’ll root for Bea every step of the way as she deals with fat-phobic bloggers, fame seekers, and mansplainers. Not exactly a Christmas book, but trust me: Bea will bring you Mariah levels of holiday cheer.
“Mele Kalikimaka” “Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to youuuu!” This Hawaiian Christmas jingle is perfect if you’re celebrating far from a snowy setting. SHIPPED will take you on a tropical cruise to the Galápagos Islands, as Henley tries to win her promotion from her competition: her annoying (okay, handsome) coworker, Graeme. If you’re in search of some warm-weather vibes this holiday season, set sail and uncover the wildlife of the Galápagos in SHIPPED.
The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” When seven-year-old Elsa’s grandmother dies, she leaves behind a series of letters, apologizing to people she has wronged. Her grandmother’s instructions lead Elsa not only to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other. Told with Backman’s signature humor, this book captures the essence of “as for me and grandpa, we believe!” *It was at this point the article writer worried that Backman would kindly ask his publisher to not include him in lists like this going forward.*
A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
“Frosty the Snowman” While you’re waiting for Mona Awad’s new book coming this August 2021, ALL’S WELL, go down the rabbit hole and revisit her completely engrossing horror novel, BUNNY. Eternal outsider Smackie is invited to an MFA “workshop night” with a group of sickly-sweet girls who call each other “Bunny.” Like the children making “Frosty the Snowman,” the Bunnies let their imaginations run wild—but, for the Bunnies, in the form of experimental fiction that they are desperate to perfect.
Photo credit: istock / Wand_Prapan