Review: Christmas by the Book

Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure–this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they’ve never been able to sell, saying it’s the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can’t save their bookstore, but at least they’ll have one final chance to lift people’s spirits through the power of reading.

After gathering nominations online, Nora and Simon quietly deliver books to six residents of the village in need of some festive cheer, including a single dad of twins who is working hard to make ends meet, a teenage boy grieving for his big sister, a local Member of Parliament who is battling depression, and a teacher who’s newly retired and living on her own. As the town prepares for a white Christmas, the books begin to give the recipients hope, one by one. But with the future of the bookshop still up in the air, Nora and Simon will need a Christmas miracle–or perhaps a little help from the people whose lives they’ve touched–to find a happy ending of their own…

Any time you hand me a book that takes place in a bookstore, I’ll read it. I don’t care if it’s a romance, holiday, mystery (though I might care if it’s a horror). This book was a perfect Christmas read and it really pushed along a great message about being there for those in need during the holidays. What I love about this book is that it starts with one old man looking for a particular book that sets off a string of joy and hope in a small English town.

While Nora is tending the bookshop, an old man named Arnold comes in looking for a particular book, and it just so happens that Nora has it in stock… and it’s been there for 25 years. Nora believes selling that book is a good luck charm, which she and her husband desperately need because the bookstore has been in the red for months now and they’re on the verge of losing it. When she tells Simon that the book has finally been sold, he comes up with a promotional idea of giving away six books to people who need some joy this holiday season. Once they have their candidates, they send off the books, and little do they know how big of an impact they’ll make on those members of their community.

Despite the book being mainly about Nora and Simon, and their struggle to save their bookstore, the book ends up following those six people whom were randomly chosen to receive the books. None of these people know each other, at least not personally, and because of Nora and Simon’s random act of literary kindness, these six lives intersect with Nora and Simon, as well as each other, giving each person the love and hope they’d been looking for or had just given up on.

“Even at the loneliest and most difficult times in our lives, books give us hope and remind us that we’re not alone.”

There were many sad moments during this book, especially with Harry (one of the recipients) who is dealing with the loss of his sister. Any time a young life is taken from a book (whether during or prior to the story) it just hurts in a different way when you see the people affected by an unexpected life taken so young. There was also a character (I won’t say who) battling depression and I thought the author handled the topic well because she didn’t make the community stigmatize mental health, but rather the character was afraid of being stigmatized and therefore wouldn’t admit that he was suffering from depression.

This book is filled with love, hope, family, and a real Christmas spirit that I don’t feel is in a lot of ‘Christmas’ books. So if you’re looking for a real story that shows you what the holiday is really about, you need to pick up this book. Honestly, this is one that I could see being made into a film someday.

Sometimes the people who need some joy the most are right in front of you.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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