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If you’re looking to get cozy with a book when the clock strikes midnight this December 31, these are the best books set on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

this time next year with coffee mug.

This is a post I have always wanted to write, both because some of the best books set on New Year’s Eve and Day have made such a mark on me personally, and because this genre is often overlooked in holiday reading.

December 31 makes a great literary timeframe for nostalgic stories, and January 1 makes a great time for stories about change.

Below are my top 3 personal favorite books set on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, followed by more amazing picks for festive, non-Christmas December reading.

Top 3


What should I read for New Year?
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney (historical fiction)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (historical fiction)

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (contemporary romance)

Quick List

  1. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  2. A Castle in the Clouds by Kirsten Gier
  3. A Doll’s House by Henrik Isben
  4. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
  5. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  6. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
  7. A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes
  8. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  9. Midnight Kiss by Robyn Carr
  10. New Year’s Eve Murder by Leslie Meier
  11. New Year’s Kiss by Lee Matthews
  12. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimor
  13. The Rewind by Alison Winn Scotch
  14. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
  15. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  16. Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey
  17. The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner
  18. Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli
  19. This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
  20. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Details on the Best Books Set on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

lillian boxfish takes a walk by kathleen rooney in front of bookshelves.

Although the previous three books are my personal favorites from this list, below are even more of the best books set on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to help you find the best book to fit your own seasonal reading.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Best for fans of 1990s romantic comedies

  • USA Today‘s Top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing 
  • The iconic #1 bestseller

The popular story of Bridget Jones’s Diary begins on New Year’s and catapults the reader into the laugh-out-loud life (and love life) of the notorious singleton throughout a year in which she compulsively tracks her New Year’s resolutions (with lots of calorie and weight counting) on a daily basis, while also balancing two different love interests.

It’s quick, quirky, and unlike any other book I have ever read.

A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier

Best for Young Adult readers

A Castle in the Clouds is a Young Adult book that takes place at a grand old hotel in the Swiss mountains in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve at the famous ball. Hotel intern Sophie is hard at work when she finds herself in the middle of a thrilling wintery story that places both her job and her heart at risk.

Not everyone is who they seem, and it’s an atmospheric and suspenseful tale of laundering, kidnapping, jewelry theft, and even a love triangle in which I think people of all ages will enjoy indulging.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Isben

Best for fans of theater

A Doll’s House is a classic pre-1900 play in which a married woman with little opportunity is destined to change her life come New Year’s Day.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Best for fans of murder mysteries

New York Times bestseller

The Hunting Party is an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery set in the Scottish Highlands, where a group of thirtysomething friends from school reunite for their annual holiday celebration during a blizzard that cuts them off from the outside world.

This year, the burden of secretkeeping becomes too much when they reminisce about the past. As they ring in the New Year, one of them is dead and another is to blame.

There are a lot of characters, but they aren’t too hard to keep track of. Overall, the remote setting, hunting activities, and points-of-view of both insiders and outsiders give this book a really creepy and ominous feel.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Best for fans of female-centric historical fiction

A national indie bestseller

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk takes place on New Year’s Eve in 1984 and draws upon the nostalgia of times past that can be associated with the holiday.

Eighty-five-year-old Lillian Boxfish is on her way to a party. She’s a woman who worked her way up in 1930s New York to become the highest-paid advertising woman in the country.

As she walks along a grittier Manhattan, she meets everyone from bartenders to bodega clerks, security guards, and even criminals, and she reminisces about the highs and lows of her life, as well as how New York has changed and stayed the same throughout eras of the Jazz Age, the AIDS epidemic, and the Great Depression.

It’s quintessential New Year’s Eve in book format, and it’s a book I think about each and every late December.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Best for fans of dramas

A Long Way Down is one of the more memorable books I’ve read, yet I can’t tell you too much about it, or I’ll spoil the plot!

This provocative and sad, yet oddly funny, novel brings together four unlikely people on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host who did something scandalous, a struggling musician delivering pizzas, an unstable and emotional teenage girl, and a single mother of a child with severe disabilities.

They meet on a London rooftop known for being the place for those ready to end their lives, and they intend to do just the same. The remainder of the novel follows the 90 days after that and is a moving, quirky slice of real life.

A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes

Best for fans of light and festive reads

A Magical New York Christmas combines so many great things in one book! In the wee after Christmas leading up to the New Year’s Eve gala, Sabrina arrives at the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City to ghostwrite the memoir of a famous art dealer. There, he recounts how he used to be a butler for the author of the classic children’s book series, Eloise at the Plaza, decades earlier.

Meanwhile, she also meets Ian, who thinks she is a wealthy guest, so he pretends to be British aristocracy. The question is whether they will uncover the truth about each other in this light holiday romance with a New York twist.

If you love any or all of the above things, I have no idea that this book will melt your heart.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Best for classic readers

Middlemarch is a classic book that begins on New Year’s Eve and dives into epic depth about the intersecting lives of the citizens of Middlemarch, as they encounter issues of the status of women, the nature of marriage, politics, religion, and education in the 19th century. 

Midnight Kiss by Robyn Carr

Best for fans of romance

Fans of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River book series and/or Netflix adaptation will love Midnight Kiss, which begins at the inaugural New Year’s Eve party at a bar, where two lonely partygoers find that the best way to mend their broken hearts might just be with each other.

New Year’s Eve Murder by Leslie Meier

Best for cozy mystery readers

From the popular seasonal mystery author comes New Year’s Eve Murder. After Christmas in Maine has ended, Lucy Stone and her daughter Elizabeth plan to ring in the New Year with winter makeovers in Manhattan that they won from a magazine.

However, things take a turn for the worse when fashion editor Nadine Nelson becomes ill and dies. When Elizabeth also becomes ill, Lucy knows she must solve this mystery.

New Year’s Kiss by Lee Matthews

Best for middle-grade readers

New Year’s Kiss is a light middle-grade romance book about a girl named Tess and her bossy older sister, Lauren, who are both spending the holiday season at their characteristically cold grandmother’s Vermont resort.

Things turn around for Tess when she meets Christopher in the lobby, though. She creates a fun New Year’s bucket list that he helps her accomplish and, perhaps, seal it with a New Year’s kiss too.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimor

Best for fans of thought-provoking reads

  • National bestseller
  • Good Morning America book club pick

Oona Out of Order begins on New Year’s Eve 1982, the day before Oona’s 19th birthday. She struggles with the decision to commit to either her band and her boyfriend or her education and her best friend, but when she wakes up it’s New Year’s Day 2014.

Each New Year she time travels to a completely different year, and it’s quite an emotional ride. Readers and I loved this one.

The Rewind by Alison Winn Scotch

Best for contemporary fiction readers

In The Rewind, ten years after Frankie and Ezra broke up, on the eve of the new millennium in 1999, they find themselves back at their snowy New England campus for a wedding.

They are doing well, separately, until they wake up in bed together the next morning with Ezra’s grandmother’s diamond on Frankie’s finger and no memory of how they got there.

In this new year, they must figure out how they got there and whether they got it wrong the first time.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Best for fans of diverse reads and/or plots with middle-aged leads

Royal Holiday is the most delightful middle-aged diverse Christmas romance book set amidst English royalty, where Vivian has traveled with her daughter for work and meets one of the Queen’s workers, with whom she bonds over the holiday and swears must end by New Year’s Day.

This story is all about what may or may not happen once the clock strikes midnight and a New Year begins. It’s one of my favorite holiday reads!

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Best for fans of literary historical fiction

Rules of Civility only begins on New Year’s Eve, but it encapsulates the holiday so perfectly and sets into sequence the entire storyline, so it always feels like a New Year’s book to me.

On New Year’s Eve 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is celebrating in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, sits at the table next to hers.

This chance encounter and its long-lasting consequences set Katey on a year-long adventure into the upper echelons of New York society—for better or for worse.

This book set on New Year’s Eve is beloved by readers for a reason — it’s exquisite.

Same Time Next Year by Tessa Bailey

Best for fans of spicy romance novels

Same Time Next Year is a great choice for steamy romance readers, particularly if you want something short and sweet, as it’s a novella from a popular author.

It follows a sports bar waitress and a local hockey star, who impulsively marry on New Year’s Eve to “get him a green card.” This fake romance trope tracks their entire first year as newlyweds.

The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner

Best for fans of light and escapist magical realism

In The Second Chance Year, Sadie just had one very bad year in which she lost her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend.

Then, she wishes to a fortune teller for the chance to re-do the year, and she wakes up on January 1 of last year. This time, she sees both her job and her boyfriend in a new light, and she realizes she overlooked a lot of red flags. Meanwhile, she also starts seeing her brother’s best friend, Jacob, for the “rock” he has always been.

It’s a super light and escapist palate cleanser about self-discovery and second chances that makes for an easy breezy post-Christmas read.

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

Best for fans of diverse and/or thought-provoking reads

GMA Book Club pick

Someday, Maybe is an exquisitely written and thought-provoking book about love and loss, as a Nigerian woman copes with the New Year’s Eve suicide of her husband, who she thought was happy, leaving her in a state of grief.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Best for fans of award-winning books

  • National bestseller
  • 2000 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction
  • The 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category “best first novel
  • The Guardian First Book Award
  • The Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize
  • The Betty Trask Award
  • Time magazine’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005

White Teeth begins on New Year’s Day 1975, when Archie Jones, a 47-year-old whose disturbed wife has just walked out on him, is attempting suicide by gassing himself in his car, when a chance interruption changes his mind. 

Ultimately, this is the story of two hapless veterans of World War II, and their families, as they become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Best for fans of popular contemporary fiction

  • Instant New York Times bestseller
  • A Good Morning America Book Club pick

This Time Next Year is the new kid on the block, and it’s a great one at that!

Minnie believes her New Year’s birthday is unlucky, all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she’s never met. Their mothers gave birth to them at the same hospital on New Year’s Day, but Quinn was awarded the cash prize for being the first baby born in London that year. Each of Minnie’s birthdays since then has been a disaster.

When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year’s celebration on their thirtieth birthday, she finds him to be a gorgeous and charming business owner whose streak of luck has continued, while Minnie is about to lose both her pie-making company and her home.

But they keep bumping into each other, and each encounter leaves them both wanting more. It’s a unique and engaging story about fate around the New Year.


These best books set on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day help you celebrate in a very literary way. Share your top pick or any remaining questions you may have in the comments below.


To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, my top 3 picks are:

Want something to read after the New Year’s ball has dropped? Check out these books about New Year’s resolutions.

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