For many of us, December is the month of trotting out old classics: traditions, recipes, that one silver plate that’s been in the family for generations. Of course, it’s a time of classic holiday reading, too, so if you’re both the bookish and the celebratory type, A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are likely to be laying about, cookie crumbs mashed into the creases of your favorite pages, hot chocolate rings on the back. But what about the holiday books that don’t get quite as much love? This year, if you find you’ve gone over The Night Before Christmas one too many times, try swapping in one of these excellent and under-appreciated choices, which we bet only the jolliest among you will have read.
The Box of Delights, John Masefield
This witty and wonderful children’s novel by the onetime Poet Laureate of the UK is widely beloved on the other side of the pond, but lesser known here. A travesty, that, since it’s a magic box in itself: a magical adventure that begins with a boy on his way home for Christmas, stopped by a man who implores him, “And now, Master Harker, of Seekings, now that the Wolves are Running, as you will have seen, perhaps you would do something to stop their Bite?” Enter wizards and witches, mice, Roman soldiers, the toughest little girl you’ll ever meet, and Christmas just might be saved after all.