During that strange hinterland of yuletide, nothing beats long, uninterrupted hours retreading the familiar steps of your favourite fictional protagonists. Preferably while lounging in your cosiest pjs, alongside a glass of something mulled.

We asked our followers on social media to share the one book they always find themselves gravitating towards at this time of year: the festive read that never gets old. From magical fantasy worlds to classic murder mysteries, we’ve rounded up the most popular picks below.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)

We said: The second book in Susan Cooper's critically acclaimed children's fantasy series is a must-read. Beginning on Midwinter’s Eve, it follows 11-year-old Will on a dangerous quest to banish the evil magic of the Dark. 

You said: It is set during Christmas and has many festive tropes - snowfall, carol singing, presents and the story of Light versus Dark. It's an engrossing fantasy.

@the_penguin_chap on Instagram

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

We said: The story of Ebenezer Scrooge, haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, is one of Dickens' most influential books, having inspired hundreds of radio, theatre, TV and film adaptations.

You said: For me, it has to be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I was gifted my Grandfather’s small edition several years ago and have read it every year since.

@literarianist on Instagram 

Read more: Moral outrage and the need for 'a hit': the real story of why Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (2001)

We said: The couple at the heart of John Grisham's festive comedy want a year free of awkward office parties, crowded shops and unwanted presents, going so far as to book a Caribbean cruise that departs on December 25th. But, can skipping the holiday season really be that easy? If you’ve seen Christmas with the Kranks, the cult film inspired by the book, then you’ll know the answer is a resounding ‘no’. 

You said: It’s so different from any of his other books & very funny.

@DeborahJMurray on Twitter 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

We said: Whichever March sister you most identify with, Louisa May Alcott's 1868 coming-of-age epic is infectious fun. Features a particularly heartwarming scene of festive generosity.

You said: I love reading Little Women and watching the 1994 version of the film. It brings back warm memories of celebrating Christmas in my small upstate New York town. I live in Sweden and get nostalgic for that feeling around Christmastime!

Witra P-G on Facebook

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie (1938) 

We said: Tyrannical millionaire Simeon, head of the Lee dynasty, is the victim in Christie’s classic yuletide locked-room murder-mystery. Basically, Succession meets Knives Out

You said: Christie sets the scene for a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings.

Farrah A on Facebook

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale (2018)

We said: Set in London in 1917, this deliciously dark tale of toys that come to life is perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

You said: Set around a magical toyshop in London that opens each winter at first frost, and closes when the first snowdrops bloom. Gorgeous.

Lara F on Facebook

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

We said: A young governess is sent to a formidable country house to look after two orphans in Henry James' haunting masterpiece, one of literature's greatest ghost stories. Because nothing says Christmas quite like sheer terror.

You said: I love the tradition of a Christmas ghost story, so I enjoy reading The Turn of the Screw. It's just so captivating but still festive. 

@mark_coffey1 on Instagram

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (1996)

We said: ‘It's not right to find Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho - but someone's got to bring the little kids their presents’. This new edition of the Discworld novel has beautiful, festive artwork and an introduction by Tony Robinson.

You said: Without question the best book on Christmas I have ever read, and one of my all time favourite novels.

@sharon.geitz on Instagram

Read more: 'At his best, Terry was a teacher': Why we love Terry Pratchett

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (1844)

We said: Gerda sets out to save her best friend Kai from the beautiful but cruel Snow Queen in this wonderfully icy fairytale about friendship, originally published in 1844.

You said: My mother used to read us The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. Normally it was Dad who read to us in the evening, but Mother read to us at Christmas.

@CraLibrary on Twitter

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (2017)

We said: Set in the wilderness of northern Russia, this magical adventure is the first book in Katherine Arden's beloved Winternight trilogy. The cold, windblown landscape and tales of old sorcery make it the perfect fireside read.

You said: ​​Snow and magic? Yes, please!!!

@sara_saturday on Instagram 

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1854)

We said: Elizabeth Gaskell's classic tale of social justice, North and South, features one of the most original and fully-rounded female characters in Victorian fiction, Margaret Hale.

You said: Three years ago I read my first Elizabeth Gaskell at Christmas: North and South. What a book! What a writer! I was so bowled over by her, that I now have the tradition of making Gaskell my Christmas read.

@MG_Whitmarsh on Twitter

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)

We said: Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson battle treachery, intrigue and evil in this essential collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic adventures. The ultimate comfort read. 

You said: It’s not Christmas related, but never fails to fit the mood when I need a classic, cosy, whimsical world to escape to during the cold/dark/winters months.

@readbyken on Instagram

Read more: Where to start with Sherlock Holmes

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

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