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Are You a Holidays Hater? We Have the Book List for You

by  | November 22

I do not like the holidays. Yup, you read that right: I am a Scrooge, and I don’t care who knows it. Halloween is my jam, Thanksgiving is lovely, but once Black Friday rolls around, I tap out of the holiday spirit. Don’t get me wrong: I still participate in the pageantry and presents, but you won’t catch me watching Christmas movies or going caroling or feeling the warm and fuzzies for all mankind. Instead, my go-to is books—reading that is more grounded in reality, be it thrillers, dramas, horror stories, or anything else, so long as no one is angsting over mistletoe.

So whether you’re an end-of-year holidays-hater in search of an escape or just need a palette cleanser amid all the sugary sweet cheer, here are some reads to take you away from all that ho-ho-horrifying chipper mush.

The Library Book

The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

I’m sure there’s one thing that holiday lovers and haters alike can agree on: damaging books is awful, and people who do it purposefully are the worst. So when you read about the massive fire that burned or damaged over one million books in the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986, your rage and despair at all those works lost will help you forget about the cold and the carolers. New Yorker reporter Susan Orlean digs deep into the mysterious fire and examines its lasting impact on the local community, as well as the importance of libraries as they developed in the U.S.  Weaving a thoughtful journey through the historic stacks and of the LAPL’s long-forgotten origins, Orleans educates and illuminates readers on aspects of libraries you might never have thought of. A must-read for anyone who wishes they were spending quiet time in a library rather than sitting around another holiday dinner table.

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The Twisted Ones

The Twisted Ones

by T. Kingfisher

You know what’s a good remedy for the tons of holiday cheer that gets produced at this time of year? Horror. Nothing like a good skin-crawling, spine-tingling tale to combat the festive feeling. So if you’re looking to get spooked this winter solstice, dive into The Twisted Ones. Mouse has been tasked with cleaning out her dead grandmother’s house in the woods, but she gets more than she bargained for when she realizes that something is very wrong, and it’s not just that her grandmother was a hoarder. Mouse’s only clue about what’s really going on comes from her step-grandfather’s journal, which is filled with terrifying and confusing rants. Can Mouse and her beloved (if a little dumb) dog, Bongo, survive what’s out there waiting to get them? Skip that traditional trip to the log cabin and dive into this book to find out.

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The Mansion

The Mansion

by Ezekiel Boone

People suck, and they don’t suck any less just because it’s December. So if you’re in the mood to revel in the depths of how truly awful people can be to each other, look no further than The Mansion. Billy and Shawn are two programmers who start off working together on next-level computer systems and hardware. After a series of bad decisions and betrayals, their friendship breaks, ultimately leading Shawn to develop one of the world’s biggest tech companies and Billy to end in poverty. But not willing to let the past go, Shawn goes to where the pair started, an old abandoned mansion, and sets up Nellie, a supercomputer that can control a house’s functions. He quickly finds that he needs Billy to help him figure out if their code is behind the many deaths that happen as the mansion gets its tech upgrade, ending with the two in a race against the clock. A new take on the haunted house subgenre, it’s definitely the perfect read if you’re in an AI household that loves to hang up an intricate system of holiday lights...or not.

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All the Lives We Never Lived

All the Lives We Never Lived

by Anuradha Roy

If the dark and terrifying doesn’t do it for you, leave the winter behind with a literary trip to India through All the Lives We Never Lived. This historical novel follows Myshkin, a young boy whose mother runs off with a German artist in 1930s India, leaving him and his father to face the rising tide of war and independence together, as well as for Myshkin himself to come to terms with his own identity. It is only decades later that he receives letters from his mother that gives him a look at what she wanted from life, the difficult choices she had to make, and how much she had missed him. Memories and letters intertwine as Myshkin explores his mother’s legacy and comes to terms with his own history and that of his country. A gorgeous novel that draws you into a narrative of longing and loss that will captivate even the most steadfast, stoic readers.

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The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm

by Tana French

Holidays are all about family, for better or worse. So whether you've got a tight-knit clan you love or blood relatives that are the bane of your existence, Tana French's The Witch Elm will appeal to you. After being brutally beaten and robbed, Toby moves in with his dying uncle Hugo, but that’s only the start of his problems. During a family gathering, one of the kids finds a human skull in the old witch elm in the backyard, which opens up the cold case of Toby’s missing classmate. Toby's world view unravels even more as he and his two cousins become suspects in the case. French's narrative style draws you into every moment, with characters that are as nuanced as your own family. The kind of dark, spiraling novel that will totally suck you in and make you forget that your aunt is playing "All I Want for Christmas" for the fiftieth time in the past three hours. 

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No Exit

No Exit

by Taylor Adams

Going home for the holidays can be an ordeal, especially when you need to deal with snow and endless delays. Grab a copy of No Exit before you head out the door and follow Darby Thorne, a college student who gets stuck at a visitor center overnight while en route to going home to see her mother, who is dying of cancer. To make matters worse, the strangers she's stuck with are up to no good, a fact that becomes clear when Darby sees a small hand pressed against the window of a van outside. What follows is a tale of survival, of using your wits, and the lengths we’ll go to protect perfect strangers. No matter where you think this thriller is headed, the twists will still catch you off guard, and you’ll root for Darby the whole time. The perfect way to pass a long flight or packed train, especially if you accidentally end up traveling during SantaCon.

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Photo Credit // Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplas

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com