The best Christmas books certain not to frighten the reindeer…

Why am I passionate about this?

Christmas, it’s often said, is a time for family, so I asked my son to answer this one for me: "He’s an all-right dad, but sometimes he’s really annoying. His most annoying habit is foraging for things in hedges. His books are actually quite good. He’s good about driving me to places. The dog loves him. He really likes Christmas. His best Christmas habit is that he loves Christmas trees, but he never wants to put them up as early as everyone else, then he always makes us keep them up till Twelfth Night."


I wrote...

Mrs Hudson and The Christmas Canary

By Martin Davies,

Book cover of Mrs Hudson and The Christmas Canary

What is my book about?

The streets of late-Victorian London are bright with Christmas decorations, but something strange is afoot. Eminent members of society begin to receive unexpected deliveries of live hens; a world-famous violinist goes missing; stolen treasures are being broken up and melted down; someone is decapitating Christmas trees; and a children’s entertainer called Marlo the Magnificent has had his hat stolen. Could these unlikely events be connected? And could any of them be related to the impossible theft, 23 years earlier, of a priceless ornament from an ancient stately home?

In Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are busy with a vital case for the Home Office, so it falls to Mrs. Hudson, his enviably well-connected housekeeper, to investigate.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Child's Christmas in Wales

Martin Davies Why did I love this book?

I read this book aloud every Christmas (my son still lets me) and the rhythms of the language never lose their magic. The writer’s memories of the Christmas Days of his childhood are vividly drawn and have an enduring, innocent appeal. “Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales…” 

By Dylan Thomas, Trina Schart Hyman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Child's Christmas in Wales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Dylan Thomas's classic account of his childhood Christmases, with full colour illustrations by Peter Bailey. The special gift edition for Thomas's centenary now in paperback, with a beautiful gold-foiled cover.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street...

Dylan Thomas's lyrical account of his childhood Christmases in a small Welsh town, featuring wolves, bears, hippos and Mrs Prothero's cat, has become deservedly famous. This re-designed edition celebrates the centenary of his birth, and features full colour artwork from illustrator Peter Bailey.

A beautiful gift edition…


Book cover of Tales from Outer Suburbia

Martin Davies Why did I love this book?

Shaun Tan is an artist and writer, and an Oscar winner to boot, and I love the dazzling originality and quirkiness of his work. This one’s on my list because it includes the (very) short story "The Nameless Holiday". Which is not at all about Christmas. But sort of is, in an opposite-of-Christmas sort of way. (No spoilers - you really have to read it to see what I mean.) Anyway, late December always feels like a brilliant time to read it again. Another one I go back to every year. 

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales from Outer Suburbia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you remember the water buffalo at the end of our street? Or the deep-sea diver we found near the underpass? Do you know why dogs bark in the middle of the night?Shaun Tan reveals the quiet mysteries of everyday life: homemade pets, dangerous weddings, stranded sea mammals, tiny exchange students, the unexpected edge of the world and secret rooms filled with darkness and delight.This very special book and jigsaw puzzle set includes the internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning Tales From Outer Suburbia and a jigsaw of the 'The Tuesday Afternoon Reading Group'. The 700 mm x 500 mm jigsaw comprises…


Book cover of Envious Casca

Martin Davies Why did I love this book?

Can I make this list and not include a golden-age detective story set in a country house at Christmas? This one has all the ingredients required for an afternoon by the fire, looking out at the wintry weather—a locked room, an appealing detective, and a cast of people compelled, rather unwisely, to spend Christmas in each other’s company. "If you ask me, there very likely wouldn’t have been a murder at all if it hadn’t been for him getting ideas about peace and goodwill, and assembling all these highly uncongenial people under the same roof at the same time. 

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Envious Casca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Tis the season—to be dead...

A holiday party takes on a sinister aspect when the colorful assortment of guests discovers there is a killer in their midst. The owner of the substantial estate, that old Scrooge Nathaniel Herriard, is found stabbed in the back. While the delicate matter of inheritance could be the key to this crime, the real conundrum is how any of the suspects could have entered a locked room to commit the foul deed.

For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard, the investigation is complicated by the fact that every guest is hiding something—throwing all of their testimony…


Book cover of The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

Martin Davies Why did I love this book?

I’ve had so much joy imagining events below stairs in Baker Street, it would be wrong not to include a tale from above stairs. This one finds the great detective grappling with a Christmas goose, a stranger’s hat, and the stolen jewel of the title. My father used to bring me the Conan Doyle books from the library when I was a child, and would often wonder aloud what tales Mr. Holmes’s housekeeper could have told. Many years later, as a birthday gift for him, I wrote my first Mrs. Hudson novel. 

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Found at the corner of Goodge Street, a goose and a black felt hat. Mr Henry Baker can have the same by applying at 6.30 this evening at 221B, Baker Street.

It’s the 27th of December and Sherlock Holmes has a new mystery to solve. Who is the unlucky owner of the festive goose dropped on Tottenham Court Road on Christmas morning – and just how much do they know about the priceless gem hidden inside it?

In this classic Christmas tale, Holmes and Watson take us on a riotous ride through London in search of the answer to a…


Book cover of Little Grey Rabbit’s Christmas

Martin Davies Why did I love this book?

Christmas is a time for nostalgia, and this one takes me back to my childhood. I remember sitting mesmerised by Margaret Tempest’s gorgeous festive illustrations while the story of these woodland creatures was read to me. Gentle, atmospheric Yuletide fare that makes me want to go tobogganing under the stars.

By Alison Uttley, Margaret Tempest (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Grey Rabbit’s Christmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Since publication of the first Little Grey Rabbit book in 1929, the series has become a classic of children's literature,
capturing the hearts of many. The popularity of Alison Uttley's magical stories and Margaret Tempest's lively
illustrations meant that generations of children grew up with Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Hare, Moldy Warp and little
Fuzzypeg. These lovely versions of four favourite original titles will bring the world of Little Grey Rabbit to a new
generation.


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Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in reindeer, Christmas, and the upper class?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about reindeer, Christmas, and the upper class.

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