With its short days and dark nights, winter is a book lover’s dream season—no reason to head outdoors (it’s too cold!), lots of cozy sweaters, roaring fireplaces, hot chocolate… and what better to match with all those things than a stack of charming, joyful romantic comedies, all of which are holiday themed?
Lovers of time-loops (it’s me, hi; I’m the problem, it’s me), Anglophiles, and Hallmark movies rejoice, because there’s something for everyone on this list.
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
If there is one trope that is an auto-buy for me, it’s a time loop. I love time loops, and love seeing how characters grow and change as they realize their past mistakes. As In a Holidaze begins, Mae Jones is seriously struggling when she arrives to the Utah cabin of her family’s long-time friends for the holidays. Her job is a dead-end, she’s still living at home, and she has yet to tell Andrew, her long-time crush, that she loves him.
Over the course of the weekend, she makes one mistake after another, and she’s sad and depressed by the end of it. She and her brother are leaving to head back to the airport when—bam—they get into a horrible car accident—and she suddenly wakes up on the plane, unharmed, on her way to Utah for the holiday. Jones eventually finds her way out of the loop, of course, but it’s a joy to follow her on her journey there.
One Day in December by Josie Silver
One day in December, Laurie looks out the window of the bus she’s on and falls in love with a stranger. Okay, okay, I know insta-love is a much-derided trope in the bookish community, but hear me out, because this book (also called One Day in December) is worth it!
Over the course of the next ten years, the book follows Laurie and the man she fell in love with through highs and lows and in-between. As much about friendship as it is relationships, One Day in December is a fantastically paced, engaging read, perfect for the holidays.
Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
A Sapphic holiday romance that’s been compared to the classic holiday film While You Were Sleeping, Kiss Her Once for Me follows the story of Ellie Oliver, a socially anxious, down-on-her-luck artist and animator. After drunkenly bonding with her boss one night, Ellie agrees to fake-date (and marry!) him so he can inherit the money his grandfather left for him, in exchange for 10% of his inheritance. But, when she arrives at his family’s house, she realizes his sister is a woman she once spent a whirlwind 24-hours with, falling in love.
Fans of Cochrun’s The Charm Offensive, one of my personal favorite rom-coms of 2021, will be thrilled to learn her second book is just as engaging and heart-warming as her first.
Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
If you’re a fan of rom-coms and have yet to pick up a book by Sarah Hogle, well, clearly you need to remedy that mistake immediately. Hogle’s first two novels, Twice Shy and You Deserve Each Other are often hilarious and sometimes bonkers romantic comedies that literally every fan of the genre should read.
Her third, the recently released Just Like Magic, is no different. A hilarious holiday romp with a splash of magic, the story follows a down-on-her-luck social media influencer who mistakenly summons a holiday spirit one night when she plays All I Want for Christmas Is You backward.
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
Perfect for readers who grew up watching The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan version or otherwise), The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox is about twin sisters, one a reality baking show judge in Los Angeles and one still living in their quaint hometown running their family business.
After the baker loses her sense of smell right before a particularly important episode of her show, she convinces her sister to switch places with her to try and save her job. Hijinks, of course, ensue, as each sister finds the essential thing they didn’t quite realize they were missing while living the other’s life.
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
Minnie Cooper (yes that’s really her name) was born on New Year’s Day in 1990, the second baby born in the U.K. that year. Her entire life, Minnie’s heard the story of her birth—how the first baby that year not only was awarded a cash prize but stole the name she was supposed to have (Quinn). Thirty years later, on New Year’s Eve, she gets trapped in the bathroom of a club overnight and is let out the next morning by none other than Quinn himself.
Via flashbacks interspersed with the present-day timeline, readers learn that unbeknownst to Minnie and Quinn, their paths have crossed many times before. A slow-burn romance with tons of heart, This Time Next Year is a perfect holiday read.
The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park
A YA rom-com set inside a mall during the holiday season, The Christmas Clash follows teens Chloe and Peter, whose families own rival restaurants in the food court.
After the teens find out that the owners of the building have plans to sell it to a local developer, they team up to try and save the mall and their family businesses. Suzanne Park’s rom-coms never disappoint, so pick this one up if you’re looking for a lighthearted, funny holiday read.
You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky
A small-town setting, a big-city snob with major David Rose (Schitt’s Creek) vibes who ends up finding meaning (and love!) somewhere most unexpected —what could feel more festive? The titular Matthew Prince is the aforementioned big-city snob, a rich kid with a spending problem whose parents send him to stay with his grandparents in rural Massachusetts after he impulsively purchases himself an island (yes, an actual island). There, he’s forced to share a room with Hector, a college student staying with them for the holidays.
It’s a familiar plot, which makes it all that more warm, fuzzy, and comforting of a read. A solid contender for best book title of 2022, Timothy Janovsky’s You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince is for everyone who loves Hallmark Christmas movies.
The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk
Another time loop book? Why, yes. Yes indeed. (I don’t think it will surprise anyone to learn that when I was 13, I watched the movie Groundhog Day approximately once a week for an entire year.)
Set on a continually repeating Christmas day, The Christmas Wish delves more deeply into interpersonal family drama than some of the lighter rom-coms on this list, but author Lindsey Kelk balances it nicely with romance and some genuinely hilarious moments. A perfect holiday book for fans of time loops and British humo(u)r.
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Most romcoms tend to center around individuals in their 20s and 30s, so Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday makes for a nice departure from the norm, following two 50-year-olds as they fall in love in England over Christmas time.
Inspired in part by Meghan Markle’s mother’s visit to Buckingham Palace over the holidays, Royal Holiday is a charming, sexy romance, perfect for reading while cuddled under a cozy blanket in front of a fire.
Liz Lawson is the New York Times Bestselling authors of The Agathas (with Kathleen Glasgow) and The Lucky Ones. You can find her on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter @lzlwsn.