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During the holidays, I go a little overboard. I listen to a lot of Christmas music, watch silly made-for-TV holiday movies on ABC Family, sit through multiple viewings of holiday favorites like Love Actually and Elf, and work on Christmas cards and holiday mixtapes. This year, I went a bit crazy decorating our new house (Lights! Tree! Stockings on the mantle! Two evergreen arrangements! Handmade wreath! Candles!).

These things all help me cope with the fact that I’m a terrible Christmas shopper. Not that I give bad gifts (well, occasionally maybe I do)… but that I wait until the last minute to shop and then want to impale myself upon a candy cane. Why can I just not get it together?

It is December 14th. Yikes.

To add insult to injury, the universe is conspiring against me with some sort of faux popularity: since Sunday, I’ve hosted one Christmas party and attended three others (technically tonight’s party was book club, but still…). I’m hosting my in-laws for Christmas this weekend and attending yet another party on Saturday. I think I need liposuction and a new liver at this point.

So, like I mentioned, I have escapism to help me procrastinate. But there’s no holiday escapism tradition quite as dear to me as The Reading of the Holiday Romance Novels.

There.

I said it.

I don’t know what it is about reading charming Happily-Ever-Afters at Christmastime, but I do it every single year. It started when I was in high school and read a lot of Regency romances. I picked up a compilation of Recency Christmas stories at some point, probably at the grocery store or Walmart, and I never looked back. I’ve delved into contemporary Christmas compilations and stand-alone novels. This year, I started off by reading Let It Snow, a rollicking YA Christmas compilation from John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

I’ve read ’em all. Snow-bound strangers forced to share a cabin and blankets and body heat? Check. Old friends reuniting for the holidays and feeling that old spark return? Check. Stories set around Christmas pageants or novelty Christmas calendar shoots? Check. Collections of short but intertwined stories set in exotic locales? Check check check!

But I keep coming back to the Regencies. There’s something about kissing boughs, gentlemen in tight breeches and cravats, chopping down the yule log, snowball fights while wearing empire-waist gowns, giant country house parties, and bluestockings who land the ton’s most eligible reformed rake that just bring on the holiday cheer for me. I cannot stop myself. Right now I’m plowing through a bunch of Mary Balogh Christmas paperbacks that I got at a local charity shop (it happens to support East Lake Pet Orphange, where I got my dog, so yay for that!). I know that when I go home for Christmas I’ll break into the stash stored under my childhood bed to read a few battered compilations and my all-time favorite Christmas Regency, Barbara Metzger’s Christmas Wishes.

Seriously, look at his gleaming hair! The cover has a giant bow and holly. A pet pig plays a significant role in the plot. What's not to love?

You guys, I’m supposed to be cool. I watch foreign films and go to edgy plays and listen to obscure music and have nerdy conversations and live in a hip neighborhood and travel to far-off places… how, exactly, does reading sickeningly sweet Christmas romances fit in with that?

Oh, who cares? They make me happy. Sue me.

Dear reader, what is your favorite Christmastime book?

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