The Christmas period is one of the best opportunities to take a break and delve into the list of must-reads that have been piling for the last six months. Fortunately, books are an ideal stocking filler and for December at Ultimate Library we have tried to put together a list of holiday reads that are also appropriate as gifts. With a range of titles, from poetry to nature writing, we hope this list will get you in the festive spirit!


penguin book of christmas stories

1. The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories

This collection includes some of the most chilling, magical and wondrous Christmas tales. It compiles classic reads written by literary geniuses from Angela Carter to Italo Calvino and takes us all across the world and beyond. Featuring santas, unexpected guests, and Christmas miracles. This is the holidays as imagined by some of the greatest short story writers of all time.


the twelve birds of christmas by stephen moss

2. The Twelve Birds of Christmas by Stephen Moss

Naturalist and avid birder, Stephen Moss uses the 12 days of Christmas carol as a starting point for this insightful analysis of British birds of the season. He examines culture, folklore and history to help us understand more about the birds we associate with Christmas, from swans to the single partridge. This is the perfect gift for any nature-lover.


frost fair book by carol ann duffy

3. Frost Fair by Carol Ann Duffy

Duffy’s new Christmas poem is inspired by the fairs that used to take place on the frozen River Thames. This poem captures the vibrant spirit of the city with jugglers, dancing bears and weddings. Its lyricism celebrates the diverse and magical experience of Christmas and is accompanied by wondering illustrations from David De Las Herras.


The Faber book of christmas

4. The Faber Book of Christmas

Another perfect gift idea for the creative types in your family – this features stories and poems from Philip Larkin, Jilly Cooper and Dylan Thomas (as well as many more!) From carolling tales, to the worst Christmas ever, this will amuse and tickle all of those Christmas lovers out there.


christmas pudding book

5. Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford

Lady Bobbin is holding a Christmas house party, and her guests include her rebellious daughter, Philadelphia, a suitor, and a melancholy writer whose first serious novel has been declared the funniest book of the year. Throw in next door neighbour and ex-courtesan Amabelle Fortescue you get love, questionable morals, and an enormous quantity of Christmas spirit.


twas the nightshift before christmas book by adam kay

6. Twas the Nighshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Whilst most of the country prepare for their turkey or nut roast on Christmas day, 1.4 million NHS staff head to work. Taken from his diaries, these stories reveal bold, funny and sad truths from behind the blue curtain, whilst also working to celebrate the commitment of all of the NHS staff who really know the true meaning of giving to others during the festive period.


Everyman's library pocket book of christmas poems

7. Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Christmas Poems

This anthology celebrates poetry’s links to Christmas, from the song of the seraphim above the manger to the cherished carols around the piano. As well as old favourites, this book includes a more diverse range of Christmas reads from poets such as Dorothy Parker and Langston Hughes.


christmas cooking by delia smith

8. Christmas by Delia Smith

Most people will agree that the food is what makes Christmas so indulgent and exciting. Coming together around the table is what the festive season is all about and Delia’s traditional recipes are like old verses. This book is a seasonal necessity, mostly to be found with pages stuck together from years of making the same Christmas pudding.


a christmas carol by charles dickens

9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Another Christmas classic that it’s almost impossible to get through the seasonal period without encountering in one way or another. This edition has all of your favourite characters with the added extra of original illustrations by John Leech, making it an excellent gift for any Scrooge in your family.


the snowman book

10. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

No Christmas book list would be complete without this heartwarming tale filled with magic and tainted with loss. It’s message continues to resonate with audiences old and young. Here’s hoping for a white Christmas!