This short list of books is meant to avoid the obvious works one might find in a Christmas list. So I’ve omitted great works like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Charlie Brown Christmas (which I’ve included) is probably the only that would make the popular lists we often see because it’s so well known in our culture because of the television series that preceded the book.
The works below all have a strong Christmas connection, even the military history books and the two children’s book I included. This is of course by no means a complete list, but they are all accounts I have read and value. Any of them would make excellent gifts this year. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section.
1) On the Incarnation of the Word: Simply one of the most profound and beautiful books ever written about Christ. On the Incarnation by Athanasius was written in the 4th Century. Very few works can penetrate the soul and explain the purpose and glory of God putting on human flesh like this one. Athanasius reminds of such ancient truths as, “For the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.”
2) Washington’s Crossing: Starting out on Christmas Day, Gen. George Washington took his tattered and battle bruised Continental Army on a night time surprise crossing of the Delaware River in 1776. Washington then gathered his army and attacked the Hessian forces at Trenton New Jersey, who were largely asleep and hung over with Christmas spirit. The surprise beat down was so epic it helped to change the trajectory of the Revolutionary War. The author, David Hackett Fischer, won a Pulitzer Prize for his masterpiece in 2005.
3) Treasure in an Oatmeal Box: A spiritually powerful children’s book about the value of human life, giving, and how God uses life for his glory. Highly recommended!
4) No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle For Bastogne: The Christmas Battle for Bastogne in Belgium was Hitler’s last gambit to turn the tide of the war on his Western front in 1944. The daring offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge ultimately failed thanks to the heroic men at Bastogne. Led by the 101st Airborne, the German advance was halted, but it would be an unforgettable Christmas for those men who fought there. This is truly one of the most courageous moments in U.S. Army history.
5) The Word of Life: The second volume of Thomas C. Oden’s systematic theology, The Word of Life is an excellent ecumenical study of the person, work, purpose, and mission of Christ. Oden was interviewed in the Winter 2011 issue of Religion & Liberty.
6) A Charlie Brown Christmas: Another children’s book, Charlie Brown’s Christmas is essential because many people feel sad, depressed, or alone at Christmas. Charlie Brown deals with these issues as he seeks out to discover the real meaning of Christmas. It must be more than presents, decorations, and holiday food wonders Charlie Brown. Linus comes forward to explain Christmas quoting Luke 2:8-14, adding, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
7) The Cross of Christ: Possibly the best of John Stott’s work, The Cross of Christ is an excellent and thorough examination of why Christ was sent to us to bear our sin, suffer, and die. “In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” asks Stott. This is a must read for many Evangelical Protestants, especially since there is a decline of truth and power of the cross in some churches.