Spiced Apple Cider in July? Why Cozy Holiday Romances are the Perfect Summer Reads

By E.F. Dodd

Yes, it’s hard to think about consuming hot beverages when the mercury is hovering somewhere in the bajillion degree range; however, it’s much easier to think about that cozy feeling you get while doing it. It’s soothing instead of stressful. Snuggly instead of sweaty. It’s why Christmas in July is a thing! Because, let’s face it, once we’ve slogged through the sticky sweatfest that is the Fourth of July and are trudging through the waves of humidity into August, the idea of a crisp fall day with just the right nip in the air or the quiet fall of snow on a chilly December evening sound pretty freaking great. When you’ve plucked your wilted tank top away from your chest for what seems like the thousandth time in the last five minutes, and your face is no longer dewy with perspiration but drenched with sweat, immersing yourself in a book about brisk autumn mornings, or chilly winter nights provides a bit of a reprieve from the oppressive heat of summer.

Summertime is all about exciting new adventures. Vacations, exotic getaways, that summer fling with the hot guy you randomly met in Jamaica (How Stella Got Her Groove Back is perfection, book and movie.). But those are all fleeting, ephemeral moments and by mid-July a lot of us are looking for something more substantial. Something that has roots and feels a bit more grounded in possibility. Something like rekindling a teenage crush over the holidays, like in A Holly Jolly Ever After by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone, or Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey, both due out this holiday season. Or falling in love while saving a small-town Christmas festival from the wreckage of a hurricane like in The Christmas Fix by Lucy Score. Or finding the one that got away at a holiday reunion of sorts in Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss.

Holiday themed books, especially romances, are also a bit easier to enjoy over the summer, because you’re not in the thick of holiday preparations. I know in my family at least, we start planning the date for our Annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza in mid-August, because December weekends fill up faster than the Ticketmaster queue did for Taylor Swift’s Era Tour. As adults our holidays are often hurried and stressful and we don’t have the ability to enjoy them as much as we did when we were children. Largely because we are now responsible for making the holiday magic (and meals) that made them so special when we were little.

But in mid-July or early August, before vacations are truly over and the stress of back-to-school kicks in (even those of us without kids know the morning traffic is BRUTAL during the school year) and we still have a few lazy days here and there to read, sliding into a cozy holiday book gives you the chance to enjoy the holiday scenes. To laugh at and commiserate with the Halloween mix-ups, Thanksgiving dinner mishaps and mistletoe disasters that befall the fictional characters. Sure, those things may very well be awaiting you over your own holidays, but you don’t have to worry about that yet and can just focus on enjoying the feeling you get from reading a holiday romance. The way the holiday traditions leave the page to wrap comfortingly around you even as you lounge by the pool or hear the ocean in the background.

Why else might you want to read about the scent of evergreen while smelling like sunblock and salt air? The same reason that one of the largest stores in the little beach town where my family and I have vacationed since the dawn of time is St. Nick Nacks Christmas Shop. And yes, it’s open year-round. It’s the same reason my sister-in-law puts up her Christmas decorations immediately after taking down her jack-o-lanterns. Because most of the time, the holiday season (even with its accompanying stress, present-panic and occasional family drama) symbolizes a time of hope and harmony. A time when we can celebrate with family and friends. When we embrace the passing of one year into another and all the optimistic anticipation that comes with it.

And so, while we are all on our various separate summer adventures, it’s nice to sink into a book that calls forward thoughts of togetherness. That brings to mind holidays past and lets you consider the possibilities for holidays future. It’s a comfortable, familiar layover in the midst of summer travels. So, go ahead and order that spiced cider to go with your cozy holiday romance. But maybe have it over ice until at least September.

Reprinted from booksbywomen.org