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Christmas Fuzzies (updated November 2010)
by Hilary Williamson

Christmas fuzzies - that's what I'm calling the festive equivalent of mystery cozies. The kind of book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside; that has you reaching for a box of tissues and sniffling as you sip that mulled wine or egg nog. They're for those who revel in the trappings of the season. If, like me, you're one of these folk, then you need a pile of Christmas fuzzies to read before and during the holidays. I have a list here, have even checked it twice for you.

Let's start almost a century ago in 1918 western Pennsylvania with John Snyder's heartwarming Golden Ring for the simple joys of Christmas past and a touch of magic. A few decades later, Pete Hamill's The Gift takes us to the Big Apple to meet a working class family, whose 17-year-old son, soon to head to Korea, cares for his father but 'just never knew if he loved me back.' Home on leave for the holidays, Pete loses his girlfriend but manages to connect with his dad. Forward in time, but still with a sense of history, we have Cynthia Keller's An Amish Christmas, in which the Hobarts accept Amish hospitality after their North Carolina life implodes and they're involved in a car accident - and begin to see the world in new ways.

Heading south for warmer climes, we have Randy D. Singer's The Judge Who Stole Christmas, in which a live Nativity scene is challenged as unconstitutional in Possum, Virginia. The author portrays the controversy with humanity, humor, and a true holiday spirit. Fannie Flagg can always be counted on for a joyful read, as in A Redbird Christmas. Expecting to die, Oswald T. Campbell moves from Chicago to Lost River, Alabama, whose hometown charm and caring community captivate him. And R. William Bennett's The Christmas Gift reminds us to take a step back and see the humanity in others.

In Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin' (reminiscent of the classic A Christmas Story) ten year old Felix Funicello is having a laugh-out-loud funny year. Another quick diversion is Lori Copeland's Christmas Lamp, a heartwarming novella set in Nativity, Missouri, whose budget has suffered since a highway bypass. Christine Pisera Naman's Christmas Lights offers short, sweet, and poignant holiday vignettes that come together in a final tender tale. Or keep a hanky handy for Donna VanLiere's The Christmas Secret. Part parable, part love story, it has strands of Chicken Soup for the Soul running through every chapter.

If you're a dog lover looking for a feel good story instilled with old fashioned values, then look no further. Greg Kincaid's A Dog Named Christmas has good people, warm feelings, and soulful mutts. Prefer kitties? In The Cat Who Came for Christmas, Cleveland Amory adopts an abandoned cat from a New York City alleyway, and shares his musings on his cat and felines in general. The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank is a magical southern Christmas story that will make you believe in miracles. Many kinds of magic lead up to Christmas in The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris. It celebrates the sensual life and the ability of an individual to influence others through small hearth magics - and chocolate.

Expect to travel over the holidays? Enjoy An Irish Christmas, which carefully moves through the angst of a mother and son relationship as they travel overseas. For a modern day fairytale imbued in holiday magic, try Kristen Hannah's heartfelt Comfort & Joy. It does involve a plane crash, so if you're flying, perhaps you should read David Baldacci's The Christmas Train - feel good holiday fare about second chances on a cross-country journey - instead. And if you're planning a Christmas cruise, you might think twice after reading John Grisham's Skipping Christmas, which reminds us that no man is an island, even if he hopes to escape to one for the holidays.

That completes my short list for a warm and fuzzy bookpile for the season. I wish you safe journeys, and a wonderful and well-read holiday, whatever your faith!
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