12/24/2011 12:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 23, 2012

The 12 Books Of Christmas

Did Black Friday leave you black and blue from fighting for the last gadget du jour at your local Big Box? Are you tempted to punch out the bell-ringer outside your supermarket? Maybe you need a heaping dose of Christmas spirit delivered in book form.

For a writer, capturing that elusive Christmas morning magic can be deeply problematic. When I set out to write a Christmas novella a few years ago, I read a batch of holiday novels, seeking inspiration. The big dilemma with a book like this is tone. Do you succumb to the temptation to write sweet and deliver a candy-cane confection? Do you plumb the depths of your own deeply dysfunctional family drama and write the awful truth? Play it for laughs, or milk the tear-ducts? The only thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to write a story so depressing that my readers would contemplate hanging themselves from a length of tinsel. In the end, I delivered "Blue Christmas," which, like real-life, tended to play both ends of the spectrum. (A holiday bargain also has a way of bringing joy to the world.

Here are a dozen Christmas reads--some children's classics, some adult fare; some new, some as old as the Nativity story--that run the gamut from inspirational to nostalgic, wickedly funny to romantic. Although none can equal the thrill of hearing hooves up on the roof while tucked in for a long winter's nap, at least one of them should help you put the merry back in Christmas.