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10 on 55th Swing

Winter Holiday Book Recommendations with Mary Alice Monroe

Check out the best books to read this holiday season, as recommend by NYT bestselling author, Mary Alice Monroe

By: Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author

Happy Holidays! It’s my favorite time of year! Whether one celebrates Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or any other winter holiday, we all can enjoy stories that celebrate the spirit of peace and joy of the season. And what spreads these sentiments more than a novel? It’s my sugar-plum pleasure to share a few of my personal favorite holiday books and pass on some of the season’s hottest titles.

My all-time favorite holiday novel is the classic A Christmas Carol by the great Charles Dickens. Did you know that not only is this one of the world’s most well-known and successful stories, but this novel is credited with establishing some of the traditions of the holiday we celebrate today-- joyous family gatherings, seasonal food and drink (I highly recommend trying the Smoking Bishop that Scrooge shares with Bob Cratchit at the novel’s end), dancing, games and most of all, generosity of spirit.

Inspired by A Christmas Carol, I wrote the novel A Lowcountry Christmas to explore that spirit of love and generosity of the season. A Christmas Carol is the story of Scrooge, and this bitter man’s redemption. This theme paralleled my wounded warrior’s journey during his return home from war with PTSD. A serious theme, yet it renders an all the more joyous and rewarding ending. Although the Marine in the novel is the same character from my Lowcountry Summer book series, this is not part of the series but rather a standalone novel (despite what Amazon says!). I am proud this novel won the prestigious Southern Prize for Fiction.

A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in a timeless story of family bonds in this “lovely and memorable” (Luis Carlos Montalván, New York Times bestselling author) standalone tale from Mary Alice Monroe.

Now for the hottest holiday books of the season!

First on the list is Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. (a.k.a. Patti Callahan Henry). This novel is a heartfelt continuation of the author’s keen interest in the famed writer C.S. Lewis. Her research is meticulous and the characters beautifully drawn. I loved this book and reread lines because they were so beautiful. It’s guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.

When college student Megs approaches author C. S. Lewis with her younger brother’s request to find out if Narnia is real, he instead takes her on a magical journey through the moments in his life that led to his greatest creation.

The Secret of Snow is the heartwarming tale that answers the question: What is the secret of life? Viola Shipman (a.k.a. Wade Rouse) writes well rounded characters you come to care for and that carry you along the journey, this one to a small hometown where a middle-aged woman is offered a second chance at life. I always love cuddling up with a Viola Shipman novel.

Sonny Dunes must return home to her Northern Michigan hometown after losing her job as a meteorologist in Southern California. The forecast for her is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance.

I end with a delightful book from a favorite author of mine, Nancy Thayer. Let it Snow. She is an author you can count on to deliver a beautifully written, heartfelt story set in one of everyone’s favorite locations—Nantucket. Nancy has written several Christmas novels and I’ve loved them all.  You will, too!

A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships, to warm the coldest of hearts - and maybe even to find love.

On my TBR pile:

It is hard to keep up with all the holiday books being published but my search uncovered some that came out a few years ago that I’ve put to the front of my reading pile for this year. 

  The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford (also a movie)

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig (also a movie)

Be sure to take time to give yourself the gift of reading. I hope you enjoy some of the books on my list this holiday season.

Meet Mary Alice Monroe with Friends & Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe welcomes a stellar panel of fellow bestselling writers to the Wild Dunes Author Series: Patti Callahan Henry, Kristin Harmel, and Kristy Woodson Harvey. Together, the “Fab Five” (along with Mary Kay Andrews who cannot attend) are the co-founders of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction. The 18th annual literary fundraiser will be held Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at Wild Dunes Resort in the Sweetgrass Pavilion.

Guests will enjoy listening to an in-depth and convivial Author Conversation moderated by Friends and Fiction Podcast Director Ron Block. Together they are diving deep into their backlist of books to select a personal favorite novel. You may have read it, but you’ve never heard them discuss these books like this before. It’ll be a conversation that everyone will enjoy! In addition to the conversation, the event includes an author meet-and-greet, a book signing hosted by Buxton Books, an exclusive silent auction, a signature cocktail, and delicious hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.

All proceeds from the event and the silent auction will directly support Reading Partners, a local 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing young students who struggle to read with individualized reading support to help them read at grade level. We are grateful to our authors who are generously donating their time to support literacy.

Click here to learn more and get your ticket now!

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of nearly 30 novels and children’s books, many of which are inspired by the Lowcountry landscape. She’s a longtime resident of the Isle of Palms, a passionate conservationist and devoted member of the Island Turtle Team. Learn more at:

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