The Best Holiday Audio Books

August 27, 2010

You no doubt have a number of traditions that center on the holiday season.  You may gather friends and family to bake cookies, sing carols, and decorate the tree or light the menorah.  Or perhaps you throw a huge holiday party that everyone waits for all year.  Maybe you just keep it simple by opening gifts in front of the fire on Christmas Eve.  Whatever your particular traditions, if you have left audio books out of the equation, you may be missing out.  While there are certainly plenty of holiday books, from modern favorites for kids like The Polar Express to classics like A Christmas Carol, all the rushing around can leave you feeling too exhausted to crack the cover on your traditional holiday reads.  But there is a better way to get in the spirit, and by incorporating audio books into your seasonal schedule, you can get your dose of literature without fuss, and you can even include the whole family.  Here are few good listens that you can pop in the CD player while you unwrap gifts or sip some eggnog.

  1. The Autobiography of Santa Clause (2004).  Written by Jeff Guinn and voiced by John Mayer (yes, the singer), this audio book is set to become an instant classic in the tradition of Dickens.  It is said to “deliver the definitive story of Santa Claus” with a blending of legend and actual, historical fact concerning the myth and the man.  And with Mayer’s soothing voice at the helm, it’s sure to send kids (that are eagerly awaiting Santa) straight to dreamland.
  2. The Cat Who Came For Christmas (2002).  The original, written by Amory Cleveland, was published in 1987 and has since found its way into many a home to be treasured by children and adults.  The story is not new (fans of A Christmas Carol may see shades of Scrooge in the old codger who rescues the wayward cat from a New York City alley), but the narrative endearingly illustrates the spirit of the season with humor and heart.  Read by Alan Sklar.
  3. A Christmas Carol (2007).  There are a couple of different audio versions of this Charles Dickens classic, but the one read by Jonathan Winters has a lot to offer.  Of course you know the tale of a miserly man visited by three spirits that change his outlook on life.  But if you haven’t heard the dramatic narration by funnyman Winters (which originally aired in 1990 to critical acclaim), then you’re missing out on a good listen.
  4. Hanukkah Lights (2003).  With authors like Chaim Potok, Rebecca Goldstein, and Harlan Ellison and readers like Lainie Kazan and Elliott Gould (just to name a few), this collection of eight different Hanukkah stories offers something for everyone.  Whether you choose to listen from start to finish or you want to sample it piecemeal, the stories of the season can get you in the mood to celebrate, give, and love.
  5. Holidays on Ice (2008).  If traditional holiday stories bore you to tears, you may enjoy David Sedaris’s stab at the absurdity of the season.  With six stories read by Amy Sedaris, Ann Magnuson, and the author himself, you’re bound to have a jolly chuckle about some of the funny beliefs and traditions that permeate the holiday season.

Sarah Danielson writes for, your comprehensive resource for the best in holiday music.

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