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For Christmas: 5 golden reads
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If the cold weather hasn't put you in a holiday mood, these books surely will.

"The Snow Globe" by Sheila Roberts; St. Martin's (166 pages, $14.99)

Kylie, who has had a run of bad luck is browsing in an antiques shop when she impulsively buys an old snow globe. According to the shopkeeper, one shake of the globe, and the toy factory scene inside it is replaced by one that shows what life has in store for you.

The story is a little cloying, and you can guess how it ends (hint: this isn't a tragedy), but the pace is brisk, and "The Snow Globe" makes for a quick holiday read.

"The Zombie Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore and H. Parker Kelley; Cider Mill (47 pages, $12.95)

The traditional Christmas Eve poem penned by Moore is turned on its (dead) head in this adaptation, a perfect fit in this popular year for flesh-eaters. Simple word swaps are accompanied by Dominic Mylroie's wonderfully creepy illustrations. This is a terrific novelty stocking stuffer for zombie lovers still lamenting the season finale of AMC's "The Walking Dead."

"An Amish Christmas" by Cynthia Keller; Ballatine Books (239 pages; $16)

The best in this bunch of holiday-themed books, "An Amish Christmas" tells the story of Meg Hobart, a comfortable middle-class woman whose husband James has lost everything in a bad investment. The couple, their two sullen teenagers and precocious preteen son pack up and head north to live with Meg's parents, a stern, cold couple she fled as soon as she was old enough. Along the way, a car accident puts them in the care of David and Annie Lutz and their large Amish family.

Meg and James immerse themselves in the Amish family, working with them, sharing meals, learning lessons they've forgotten they knew before the business of working and raising children took over their lives. Meg comes to realize she's raising three spoiled, ill-mannered brats and that her own life could use a little improvement.

"Promise Me" by Richard Paul Evans; Simon & Schuster (334 pages, $19.99)

A single mom with a sick daughter meets a mysterious man on Christmas Eve. He immediately takes care of all of her problems and becomes what she believes to be her soulmate. Then she discovers that the mystery man's appearance in her life involves time travel and a familial relationship.

The sickly-sweet story is every bit as ludicrous as it sounds, but if you're a reader of romance novels, the white knight theme and the fantasy life the strange pair creates might work for you.

"'Twas the Night Before Christmas: 21st Century Edition" by Bruce Kluger and David Slavin; Andrews McNeel Publishing (80 pages in paper, $9.99)

This updated version of the holiday staple has more heft than its zombie counterpart and makes Santa the victim of a hostile takeover by a large corporation. The poem has been entirely rewritten and the illustrations are accompanied by Photoshopped images of magazines, newspapers and corporate memos, each fully realized.

The details are genius and are perfect for this moment in time. Who would have thought a classic holiday poem could be so relevant?