6 Reads for Advent 📚
some old, some new, all just-right
I’ve been mulling over my Advent literary plan (yes, you read that right) for a few weeks now (which is why, side note, it felt like Autumn Kern read my mail when she recently released a 2024 Literary Life Planner to her subscribers1). Yep—I’m a fan of planning out what I read, while still leaving room for bits of spontaneity when the mood and time strikes.
Here are three reasons why I’ve planned my Advent reading (which, by the way, starts this Sunday, December 3):
Advent is the start of the liturgical year—the new year for those of us who observe the liturgical calendar. Similar to making goals at the start of the mainstream calendar, I thought it might be good to try out making some inward formational goals for this next liturgical year. Books are a prime vehicle for our inward formation (along with the Holy Spirit, of course, but you get my drift).
I love Advent. It’s possibly my favorite season of the year, and I want to soak up all the seasonal goodness that it provides. I already think through our dinner menu, our weekly family activities, our family movie TBW list, and even our background music in the form of playlists—why wouldn’t I also make a plan for my reading?
A goal without a plan is just a wish, or so the saying goes. It’s near the end of the calendar year, and I made a reading goal at the start of it. I’ve almost met this goal, but at year’s end, when it’s typically on the busy side, it would make sense that I make a plan to finish well. What gets planned gets done.
We are formed by what we read, and I want to be well-formed this Advent season. Here’s what’s on my reading plate for the next four weeks.
1. A Christmas Carol
The obvious classic, I try to read it almost every year. We’re doing it as a family read-aloud this time, pairing it with a few of our favorite film renditions (here and here are my faves), as well as The Man Who Invented Christmas. We’ll also walk to our neighborhood community theater stage later in December for their rendition of the play.
2. Christmas Karol
This brand-new novel by Faith Moore is a modern twist on the aforementioned. Karol is a workaholic lawyer who doesn't hoard money, she hoards time. She does not have time for ghosts, but her journey through her past, present, and future liberates her from some of the modern lies she believes. Looking forward to this one. (Here's an interview with Faith and her dad, novelist Andrew Klavan.)
3. The Dean’s Watch
Commonplace reader (and fantastic writer)recommended this book in a recent monthly book chat, which then spurred fellow Commonplace reader (and fantastic podcaster and YouTuber) (also aforementioned) to read it and subsequently recommend it as well. Back-to-back recs from these fine women meant I immediately bought it—it’s now waiting for me on my nightstand and I’m eager to crack it open. Apparently, it takes place during Advent, hence the timeliness.
From the description: “Dean of the cathedral in an 1870s English town, Adam Ayscough is respected and misunderstood. A dogged crusader against corruption, he's also acutely shy. When his watch breaks, he forms an unlikely friendship with watchmaker Isaac Peabody, who doesn't think he has anything in common with God.”
4. Winter Fire: Christmas with G.K. Chesterton
Another new book, but not really: this is a collection of G.K. Chesterton excerpts relating to winter, Advent, and Christmas (with some commentary from the compiler, filmmaker Ryan Whitaker Smith). It also includes lovely Victorian art, recipes, classic British Christmas games from yesteryear, and poems (specifically for when you go a-wassailing). I’ll be inching my way through this all month, as a personal companion to our family’s reading of Shadow & Light.
5. Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old
Recommended by my dear friend Sarah Mackenzie (as part of her famous “Christmas School,”) the kids and I will read a few of these short stories as part of our humanities studies this month. This collection includes twenty holiday-themed short stories, from both world-famous and little-known authors.
6. The Practice of the Presence of God
I’m technically reading this for my local book club (part of Well-Read Mom), but I think it makes for a lovely short Advent read anyway. A collection of reflections and letters from a humble 17th-century French monk assigned to kitchen duty, his reflections are a reminder that we can do little things, all things, for God’s glory. I need that reminder during Advent. Almost every sentence is highlightable; I first read this in high school and it’s stuck with me since.
Alrighty, this is my upcoming Advent reading plan—I’d love to hear if you’ve got an annual read on your shelves, or perhaps you’re saving a few new-to-you books as well. Let’s delight in the Advent season with literary goodness! Do share a few more ideas.
Ora et Labora,