December Reading List: 10 Books to Dive Into This Holiday Season

Critic Bethanne Patrick recommends a diverse range of fiction and nonfiction books to add to your December reading list.

As the holiday season approaches and the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday fades away, it’s the perfect time to indulge in the joy of reading. Books make excellent gifts, offering something for everyone without the hassle of worrying about sizes or shipping. December may seem like a quiet month, but it is brimming with exciting new releases. From dystopian novels to thought-provoking nonfiction, there is a book for every reader’s taste. Let’s explore the top 10 books recommended by critic Bethanne Patrick for your December reading list.

Welcome Home, Stranger by Kate Christensen:

In “Welcome Home, Stranger,” Rachel returns to her hometown in Maine after her mother’s passing. Along the way, she encounters a diverse cast of characters who help her navigate the next phase of her life. Kate Christensen, an acclaimed novelist and memoirist, expertly depicts the journey of a spiraling protagonist while maintaining narrative control.

Orbital by Samantha Harvey:

Samantha Harvey, known for her backward murder mystery novel “The Western Wind,” takes readers on a different journey in “Orbital.” This time, the story unfolds in outer space, following four astronauts and two cosmonauts on a day’s trip around the Earth. Each character brings their own worries and perspectives, creating a powerful and elegiac tale set in our own era.

The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy:

Louise Kennedy explores the struggles faced by women in Ireland in “The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac.” Despite the economic boom and political changes, misogyny and patriarchy continue to plague Irish society. Kennedy weaves together stories of estrangement, disappointment, and miscommunication, delving into the entanglement of history and personal dilemmas.

Yours for the Taking by Gabrielle Korn:

In Gabrielle Korn’s debut novel, “Yours for the Taking,” Jacqueline Millender, the founder of the Inside Project, promises a climate-proof future free from patriarchy. Set in 2050 Brooklyn, the protagonist, Ava, soon discovers the sinister plan behind Millender’s project. Korn challenges the notion that secretive billionaires are always men, delivering a gripping tale of hidden agendas.

Prophet Song by Paul Lynch:

Winner of the Booker Prize, Paul Lynch’s “Prophet Song” is a dystopian novel set in Dublin. Eilish Stack navigates a city ruled by secret police, while her son joins the rebel forces. Lynch’s storytelling captures the essence of Irish life while exploring universal themes of resistance and choices in the face of adversity.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta:

Tim Alberta, an award-winning journalist and practicing Christian, examines the transformation of American evangelism in “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.” Alberta’s exploration delves into the intersection of religion and politics, shedding light on the power dynamics that have corrupted the movement.

Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel by Shahnaz Habib:

Shahnaz Habib’s collection of essays, “Airplane Mode,” offers a refreshing perspective on travel. The Indian writer and translator delves into discussions of skin color and power dynamics, challenging the canon of privileged white travelogues. Habib’s essays are a must-read for anyone seeking diverse voices in the genre.

Silent Cavalry: How Union Soldiers from Alabama Helped Sherman Burn Atlanta — and Then Got Written Out of History by Howell Raines:

Howell Raines, a former executive editor of the New York Times, uncovers a hidden piece of history in “Silent Cavalry.” Raines reveals the story of an integrated cavalry unit of Union-supporting Southerners who played a crucial role in Sherman’s siege of Atlanta during the Civil War. Their contributions were suppressed, highlighting the efforts to erase the existence of dissenting voices in the South.

Songs on Endless Repeat: Essays and Outtakes by Anthony Veasna So:

“Songs on Endless Repeat” is a collection of essays by the late Anthony Veasna So, a talented Cambodian American writer. So seamlessly weaves together his family history, queer identity, and personal relationships in his essays, leaving readers longing for more of his unique perspective.

The Waltz of Reason: The Entanglement of Mathematics and Philosophy by Karl Sigmund:

In “The Waltz of Reason,” Karl Sigmund explores the intricate relationship between mathematics and philosophy. Sigmund delves into game theory, the social contract, and the question of computer intelligence. While the book may be intimidating for math-averse readers, Sigmund’s clear-eyed investigations offer captivating insights into these complex subjects.


This December, immerse yourself in the world of literature with these 10 captivating books. From fiction to nonfiction, these titles offer a diverse range of stories and perspectives. Whether you’re seeking dystopian tales, thought-provoking essays, or hidden histories, there is something for everyone on this December reading list. So, grab a cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea, and embark on a literary adventure this holiday season. Happy reading!






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