Lists

The Top 10 Christmas Stories of All Time


There are hundreds of Christmas stories ranging across every type of medium imaginable, from books and movies to plays and songs. With all of these amazing Christmas stories out there, how is anyone ever supposed to choose which ones to consume during the holiday season?

You have just under two weeks left to take in Christmas related media. Here are the top 10 Christmas stories of all time for you to enjoy before the holiday is over.

Books on a shelf with Christmas stocking wreath and candy cane

10. The Little Match Girl - Short Story

Let’s start off with something cheerful, shall we? This short story was published in the 1800s. Most people have heard the title of this story, but not everyone actually knows the tale, which is a shame. It is a very lovely, very sad Christmas story that serves as a reminder that there are many people in need in the world today, even as we enjoy an abundance of gifts and food.

The story may take place over New Years, but the Christmas imagery is impossible to ignore. As the young girl dies, she has dreamy visions of amazing Christmas decorations and a huge Christmas feast. It’s a sobering tale that I’d recommend to anyone. It certainly helps to give you perspective.

9. Sherlock Holmes - The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle - Short Story

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle is the only Sherlock Holmes story that explicitly takes place at Christmas-- it’s also one of the funniest.  The mystery is light-hearted (a Christmas goose was stolen and a blue diamond was lost) and the resolution is silly. Written and set in Victorian London, this story gives the reader the feeling of what it must have been like to race through the streets of London at Christmas.

Around the short, amusing mystery is warm domesticity between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, as well as a few displays of deductive genius on the part of the Great Detective.  Read the story, close your eyes, and imagine yourself sitting beside the fire with Holmes and Watson, stomach full of stolen Christmas goose.

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas - TV Special

This is one of my favorite Charlie Brown specials of all time, as I’m sure it is for many people. Watching it as an adult gives me a much different feeling than when I was a child, though. This special uses satire masterfully to express the consumerism of the Christmas season.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I can appreciate how the story brings a deeper meaning to Christmas through Linus’ speech. All Charlie Brown specials are a bit “dark” and bleak, and as a writer I can’t help but try to deconstruct the things these characters say, but this special really turns all of the bleakness into a truly heartwarming story.


7. Skipping Christmas/Christmas with the Kranks - Book/Movie

This comedy has just enough sappy, heartwarming content splashed in to create a perfect balance. An older couple, choosing to skip Christmas because their daughter will not be home for the holidays, are thrown into chaos when she surprises them by returning at the last minute.

I prefer the movie to the book and watch it every year. The story gives you so many relatable holiday moments, like the grocery store being out of your favorite Christmas dish and having nosy neighbors trying to tell you how to celebrate the holidays. This is a really fun one that I think everyone should watch or read.


6. Home Alone - Movie

At the risk at sounding incredibly old and cliche, kids these days will never understand the plot of this movie. At least, not the way we understood it when I was growing up. With smartphones, wi-fi connections, and even smart homes, this movie just couldn’t happen in the modern era like it used to.

Home Alone does such a good job of explaining how every little thing goes wrong to result in Kevin home alone during the holidays while his family is in France. The phone lines are down, the family does a headcount but a a neighbor boy gets counted, even Kevin’s ticket gets thrown away. The writers do an amazing job at making this story work. What do you think Kevin does when he grows up if he can pull off all those boobie traps at age 8? He must be building military weapons or something.

5. Christmas Vacation - Movie

This is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. In terms of Christmas movies, this one truly is a classic, though not for the same reasons that most Christmas movies are. This comedy is utterly absurd, plays on gross humor, and is probably pretty offensive by today’s standards. But the movie is just so...good.

If you like a bit more humor and a lot less sappy in your Christmas movies, this one is a really good choice. The movie follows an “old fashioned family Christmas,” and all the stress and shenanigans that come from that. And there are morals woven into the story, most notably about how letting your expectations become unrealistic can negatively affect your experience. That’s something I try to keep in mind, because I definitely tend to build up expectations.

4. The Gift of the Magi - Short Story

This short story, published in 1905, is the heartwarming tale of two people who don’t have a lot of money but find a way to get each other a heartfelt gift through their own personal sacrifice. This really puts the emphasis on how we should all strive to give, rather than obsess over receiving.

This classic has been adapted into multiple mediums, and is also a popular story to borrow from when it comes to other media such as TV Christmas specials. While many people have done the original story justice in their re-telling, none is as good as the original.

3. The Christmas Shoes - Song

Christmas Shoes is one of the saddest song I’ve ever heard, and certainly one of the saddest Christmas songs out there. It may seem unusual to include a song in a list about Christmas stories, but this song manages to tell a very vivid, very heartbreaking story in under 5 minutes.

This song tells the tale of a young boy who is trying to buy his mother a Christmas present, and he wants to get the perfect gift because she may die that very night. If you’re in the mood for something painful, give the song a listen.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Children’s Book

This story is such a great mix of absurd and heartwarming. The utter imagination that Dr. Seuss brings to all of his stories is astounding.

I actually never cared much for the animated version of The Grinch, but I adore the Jim Carrey version. I think it adds a lot to the source material in a way that is true to the original work. This is a great example of a humorous story with a heartwarming message.

1. A Christmas Carol - Novella

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. Originally a novella, it has been adapted for a huge variety of mediums including plays, movies, and special TV episodes. No matter what format you consume this classic in, A Christmas Carol tops every list in terms of the best Christmas story ever created.

A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, a story of redemption, and a history lesson all at once. Every time I experience it my heart feels warm. When I think about Christmas I often think of the classic setting of this tale. It is remarkably magical, haunting, and sobering.

I go see A Christmas Carol at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee every year. They put on an amazing show. If you can get to the theater to see it live, I’d highly recommend it.



Which of these Christmas stories is your favorite? Did it not make the list? Let me know in the comments, and have a Merry Christmas!

More Christmas:

2018 Literary Gift Guide

Holiday Book Gift Guide

2018 Literary Gift Guide

Book with a bow and title "2019 Literary Gift Guide"

Looking for the perfect literary gift for the book geek or writer in your life this Christmas? There’s still plenty of time to shop before Christmas arrives.

I’ve included five items for readers and five for writers in this literary gift guide. They’re all items that I use myself or items I plan to buy for myself sometime soon. I have exactly 0% advertising on my website so you can be sure my recommendations are completely objective.

So, let’s get started!


Gifts for Readers


1. Binge-Reading Kit

Binge reading kit

Got a book nerd to buy for but have no idea what they’ve already read? This Binge-Reading Kit is a super cute and fun item to get for readers this Christmas. It comes with 14 items in the kit that are helpful for any serious readers; bookmarks, ear plugs, a reading light, and a bunch of other things! And it’s only $20!

Get it here!


2. Conceal Floating Bookshelf

I have wanted these for such a long time, but unfortunately I can’t install shelving in my apartment. Someday I’ll get my hands on these. Not only are they great for storage purposes, but the floating book aesthetic is just really cool.

Get it here!


3. Over Tub Caddy

Over the tub caddy holding book wine and candle

As a kid, I dreamed of inventing this item to make reading in the bath easier. Probably it already existed and I hadn’t even realized it. With an over tub caddy you can keep your book dry, keep a beverage close at hand, and with this one you can even add a candle! Perfect for book lovers who love baths.

Get it here!


4. Papercuts: A Party Game for the Rude and Well Read

This is just Cards Against Humanity for book geeks. This is perfect for the book nerd who has other book nerd friends! I’ve not played it, but I am high key interested in it. Besides, I could use a break from Cards Against Humanity.

Get it here!


5. Literary Scarf

I bought a Sherlock Holmes scarf as a treat for myself years ago and I pull it out to wear every winter. Granted, it isn’t the warmest scarf out there, but it’s very cute and I get tons of compliments on it. This is a fun literary take on a classic Christmas gift.

Get it here!

Gifts for Writers


1. Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition 2019

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If you take writing seriously, then you absolutely need to own this book. In this book writers will find materials dedicated to the publishing process and marketing advice, listings of book publishers, query letter examples, lists of professional writing organizations, and much more. I’d recommend this book for any writer who looks to pursue publication within the next one to two years. With the deluxe version writers will also get a one year subscription to writersmarket.com. This single book is an invaluable resource.

Get it here!

2. A Yearly Subscription to Writer’s Digest Magazine

A one year subscription gives you 8 issues, each one filled with writing tips, author interviews, and tons more. This is another great way to give the writer in your life tons of advice about their craft, publishing, and marketing, and it’s a gift that literally keeps on giving all year.

Get it here!


3. The Writer’s Toolbox

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My best friend bought me this for Christmas last year and it is tons of fun. The games and exercises in this toolbox can help generate new ideas or simply help you past a roadblock. Or, if you’re just looking to do some free writing, it is great for helping you experiment!

Get it here!


4. A Ticket to a Writing Conference or Writing Retreat

This is a more expensive gift, but one your writer friend will love. A conference is a great place to network, attend sessions and workshops, get critiques, and meet new and established authors. A retreat allows writers to spends days to weeks focusing on nothing but their writing. You’ll have to do some research to see which one works best for your writer.


5. Really Good Headphones

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Writers may write at home, at coffee shops, or anywhere that has an internet connection. Sometimes the ambient noise is nice, but sometimes it is too distracting. A good pair of headphones, especially noise cancelling headphones, can do wonders. I’m linking to the pair I use, which block out most sound and have great sound quality.

Get it here!


I also wrote a holiday book gift guide last year if you want to pick out a book instead! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

7 Amazing LGBT Books Coming Out This Fall

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new queer books. Years ago when I was first figuring out my sexuality, LGBT novels could actually be kinda hard to find. Luckily in 2018, new books featuring queer characters are coming out much more frequently.

Here’s 7 of them that are coming out this fall that I’m super excited about.

LGBT Books Fall 2018

1. What If It’s Us - Adam Silvera & Becky Albertalli

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Release Date: October 9th, 2018

2. Summer Bird Blue - Akemi Dawn

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Release Date: September 11th, 2018


3. Someday - David Levithan

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn't anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to -- and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018

4. Black Wings Beating - Alex London

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer-- while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Release Date: September 25th, 2018

5. Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Release Date: November 6th, 2018


6. On a Sunbeam - Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is an epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love―only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018


7. Pulp - Robin Talley

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Release Date: November 13th, 2018

But why wait to read queer stories? Check out my free queer fiction or take a look at my favorite LGBT novels that are already available!