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Diverse Winter Holiday Books for Adults

Two of our favorite things are holiday reads and exploring new cultures, traditions, and viewpoints through the pages of books. We have lots of lists of Christmas-themed novels, but we’ve been wanting to put together a list of light and fun books celebrating some of the other winter holidays celebrated next door and around the world.

We view this list as just a starting point, and we’d love to hear from you. If you celebrate one of these holidays, tell us what book(s) you’d recommend we add to the list. And you celebrate a winter holiday that we don’t yet have on the list, tell us about it, and share some books we should read!

Multicultural Winter Holiday Books

We were so excited to come across the first book on the list because it celebrates not one, not two, but THREE winter holidays. Only three times a century (or every 30 to 33 years) do Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Christmas overlap.

Three Holidays and a Wedding book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

Book Summary

Maryam is on her way to her sister’s impromptu wedding, and Anna is headed to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy family. These two strangers are seatmates on a flight to Toronto when they find themselves in extreme turbulence. The scary flight causes the two women to confess their deepest hopes and fears to each other.

They think they’ll never see each other again, but the rough ride leads to an emergency landing in Ottawa. Instead of making it to Toronto, the duo (along with Maryam’s sister’s entire bridal party and Saif, the love of Maryam’s life) find themselves at the quirky Snow Falls Inn in a picture-perfect town. Could being snowbound in a small town unexpectedly turn into the best holiday ever?

The Book Girls Say…

Author Uzma Jalaluddin also has non-holiday books set in Canada, including a 2023 release, Much Ado About Nada, a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in Toronto, and Hana Khan Carries On, which Angela really enjoyed.

Hanukkah Romance Books

The eight-night festival of Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday within the Jewish religion, but it involves many observed rituals. Known as the Festival of Lights, families and friends gather to light a new candle of the menorah each night, from left to right, while saying a blessing. This is symbolic of the story of the Maccabees’ revolt against Syrian-Greek oppressors and the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. The story goes that in the aftermath of the revolt, the desecrated temple had only enough oil for one lighting of the menorah. However, by a miracle, that small amount of oil lasted for eight full days.

Today most families use candles to light their menorah instead of oil. However, foods fried in oil, including potato latkes and jelly donuts (sufganiyot) are staples of Hanukkah meals and nod to the miracle of the oil being celebrated.

We’d love to expand this Hanukkah section into a full, standalone list in the future. If you celebrate the holiday, we’d love for you to share your book recommendations with us in the comments below!

Lovee and Latkes book cover

Book Summary

Batya fled her hometown of Rivertown, New York, years ago, in hopes of escaping her embarrassing history. She was also hoping to get over her unrequited crush on Abe Neumann. But when she’s chosen as the web designer for a latke fry-off competition, she learns that it will require her to return to Rivertown. Unwilling to give up the career opportunity, so agrees.

Abe is now an accountant, but he dreams of one day owning his own Jewish deli. He can’t pass up the opportunity to enter the latke contest because the prize money could put him closer to his dream. Seeing Baty again, however, has him wishing for more than just a win.

When the celebrity host of the competition has to pull out, Batya is asked to step up to the challenge. With Hanukkah approaching, can Abe do the same?

The Book Girls Say…

Readers warn not to crack this book open on an empty stomach! The descriptions of Jewish food go far beyond latkes and will leave you feeling very hungry. In addition to the shared food, this second-chance romance also explores the traditions and culture related to Hanukkah.

The Matzah Ball book cover

Book Summary

Rachel is a nice Jewish girl and a Rabbi’s daughter. She also has a big secret she’s been keeping from her family for years. Not only does she love all things Christmas, she’s actually a bestselling author of Christmas romance novels. But this year, her publisher wants something different – a Hanukkah novel. As far as Rachel is concerned, there is nothing magical or merry to write about.

Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel agrees to volunteer for a Jewish music celebration being held on the last night of Hanukkah. On the upside, she hopes it will inspire her writing. On the downside, it means working closely with her old summer camp archenemy, Jacob.

The Book Girls Say…

Author Jean Meltzer spent five years in rabbinical school before her chronic illness forced her to withdraw. The character of Rachel also deals with chronic illness, providing a counterbalance to the book’s otherwise lighter, humorous premise.

Eight Dates and Nights book cover

Book Summary

This cozy YA romance introduces us to two very different teenagers. New Yorker Hannah is visiting her grandmother when a freak snowstorm leaves her stranded in Texas. She’s missing the latkes and reliable wi-fi from back home.

She wanders into an old deli where she meets the only other Jewish teen in town, Noah, who is overflowing with Hanukkah spirit. It’s a bit much for Hannah, but she still agrees to help him try to save his family’s deli.

The Book Girls Say…

This young adult novel has been described as short, sweet and charming!

The Holiday Trap book cover

Book Summary

Greta loves her tight-knit hometown in Maine, but it can be hard being a lesbian in such a small community. She needs space to figure who she wants to be. Meanwhile, her family just keeps meddling and signs her up for a dating auction right before Hanukkah.

Truman was crushed when his boyfriend dumped him and even more upset to learn that the boyfriend had a secret husband and daughter.

Enter Greta and Truman’s mutual friend, Ramona, who facilitates a month-long house swap. Over the winter holidays, each of them will have a chance to try on a new life…and maybe fall in love with the perfect partner of their dreams.

The Book Girls Say…

Also consider Seasons of Love by Helena Greer.

Eight Nights of Flirting book cover

Book Summary

Shira has a plan. She’s determined to have a boyfriend by Hanukkah, and she has her eyes on her great-uncle’s assistant, Isaac. The only problem is that this 16-year-old hasn’t perfected her flirting just yet.

When Shira gets snowed in with her former nemesis / former crush, Tyler, he agrees to give her some pointers. Shira isn’t prepared to discover that Tyler is actually a nice guy, and she likes hanging out with him.

The Book Girls Say…

Many reviewers describe this as the perfect style of YA rom-com that is equally adorable and readable for adults.

Kwanzaa Books for Adults

The secular holiday of Kwanzaa is celebrated each year from December 26 to January 1. This week of festivities celebrates African-American community and culture. Family and friends gather each day to share delicious meals and exchange gifts. The holiday encourages people to honor seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility (teamwork), cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

A Mistletoe Affair book cover

Book Summary

Longtime friends Janelle, Sandra, and Vicki run a successful event agency, planning lavish parties in the wealthy enclave of Wintersage, Massachusetts. Vicki, the trio’s floral designer, is a shy, hopeless romantic. She comes from a prominent family and has always done what’s expected of her, but no one expected her to fall for her best friend’s divorced brother.

The truth is that Vicki has had a crush on Jordan since she was 15. He’s an attorney turned political strategist, and he’s recently found himself caught up in a political scandal. He’s also discovering that being a single dad is harder than he ever imagined.

As they are preparing for Kwanzaa celebrations, Vicki is asked to design her own float for a local parade. Her family isn’t very supportive of the idea, but to her surprise, the one person who is there for her is Jordan.

The Book Girls Say…

This is a quick read at just 217 pages from the author of the popular rom-com series The Boyfriend Project. Readers say that while Kwanzaa is not the sole focus of this steamy romance book, they very much enjoyed this aspect of the story.

For a novel focused more specifically on Kwanzaa, consider Kwanzaa Angel by Shirley Hailstock, which is a second-chance romance set in a small town in New Jersey.

The Kwanzaa Brunch book cover

Book Summary

This newly released novella introduces readers to Sienna and Booker. Sienna feels like she’s living a version of Groundhog Day – same job, same city, same friends, no romance. But then she meets Booker. He’s new to Atlanta, having just accepted a job at Precision Software.

Booker is looking for a fresh start after leaving a stressful and an ex-wife behind. He’s determined not to fall for the first pretty woman he meets. But crossing paths with Sienna could put his resolve to the test.

The Book Girls Say…

If you like the quick format of novellas for the busy holiday season, you may also want to check out a collection called Holiday Dream, which includes three short stories by different authors. The second story in the collection, Whisper to Me by Carmen Green, is about a teacher named Iman who meets a widower named Cedric. As they celebrate Kwanzaa, they find that the tradition opens their minds and their hearts.

Another Kwanzaa novella option is Kwanzaa by Chance by Ember Davis, which is available with Kindle Unlimited as of December 4.

Lunar New Year Books for Adults

Lunar New Year, which marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar, is an event celebrated by numerous cultures on a range of dates. One of the most well-known of these celebrations is the Chinese New Year, which typically falls in either January or February. Beginning on February 10th, 2024 will be the year of the Year of the Dragon.

We also have a great list of Chinese New Year Books for Kids.

Lunar Love book cover

Book Summary

Olivia’s grandmother has built a successful matchmaking business relying on the traditional Chinese zodiac. Now, just as Olivia is poised to take over the family business, a new app created by one of LA’s most eligible bachelors threatens to destroy her family legacy.

When the two businesses go head to head, Olivia and Bennett strike a deal. Each will find a match for the other, and whoever falls in love is the loser. But will it turn out to be the man trying to steal her business that ultimately steals her heart?

The Book Girls Say…

While this book isn’t specifically set during the Lunar New Year, this novel is filled with Chinese astrology, making it a perfect read for the holiday.

A Fake Date for Chinese New Year book cover

Book Summary

The Wong family has a reputation for meddling in their kids’ love lives. After their Thanksgiving matchmaking efforts, Alex is dreading the Chinese New Year. The only solution he can come up with is to arrive with a girlfriend. But first, he needs to lay the groundwork to make it seem believable.

Jo is the obvious choice. She and Alex have been friends forever, and they’ve bonded over their broken engagements. The way Alex sees it, all they need are a few dates and a few kisses around town to get people talking, and then his parents will hear all about it.

But what happens when their fake relationship starts to feel real as the Chinese New Year approaches?

The Book Girls Say…

This holiday novella is a short 104 pages, but it’s filled with laugh-out-loud moments and steamy scenes. This is book 3 in the Holidays with the Wongs series. Each one follows a different Wong sibling as they find love. There are overlapping characters, but they can be enjoyed as standalone reads.

Books About Diwali for Adults

Each year, Diwali takes place over five days, sometime between October and November. We know what you’re thinking – that’s fall, not winter. But Angela lives in Colorado, where it frequently snows during both of these months, so we are being loose with our definition of “winter” so that we can share these final two books with you.

Diwali, an Indian festival of lights, gets its name from the row of clay lamps that families light outside of their homes. These lamps symbolize the spiritual victory of light over darkness and good over evil. While Diwali is a major Hindu holiday, it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.

A Holly Jolly Diwali book cover

Book Summary

Twenty-nine-year-old Niki loves art and music but became a data analyst because she loves order and stability. But when she gets laid off, she realizes that she can’t control everything and impulsively books a flight to a friend’s wedding in India.

She arrives just in time to celebrate Diwali, where she meets Sameer. He’s a London street performer and pretty much Niki’s opposite, but she’s drawn to him nonetheless.

The Book Girls Say…

When Niki and Sam join the bride, her new husband, and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper.

Sleepless in Dubai book cover

Book Summary

In this hate-to-love teen rom-com, neighbors Nikki and Yash both accompany their families on a holiday to Dubai to celebrate the five days of Diwali. The two teens have a rocky history, but their families keep trying to matchmake.

Can betrayals and conflicting ambitions be set aside long enough for the two teens to discover the true meaning of the Festival of Lights?

The Book Girls Say…

Readers say the audio version of this book is particularly great.

What books or holidays are we missing? We always appreciate hearing suggestions from our readers!

Join the Winter Books Mini Reading Challenge

Our free four-prompt mini-reading challenge is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading seasonally. Each prompt comes with a list of recommended books for you to choose from, making it a fun and easy way to enhance your winter reading.

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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