It’s not that I don’t like winter. I was born and raised in Chicago, and I’m now living in the south. One thing I do miss about living in a place where the weather is bad for almost six months of the year is curling up by the fire with a stack of books about winter. If you’re a Chicagoan like me, you can also read them on the radiator. No, I’m not the only one who thinks this is a cozy thing to do when it’s snowing outside.
There is a different kind of energy in great books and memoirs about winter than there is in other stories. Many of the best winter stories are filled with holiday cheer, but if not, they tend to be a little quieter and slower to move through. There’s always something a little haunting about them, like the world outside has been put on hold while the story takes place. (Maybe it’s because of all the snow… who knows? As long as it’s snowing outside your window, these 11 books will make you feel like you’re in the middle of winter. If you’re ready to curl up with a hot cocoa and a good winter read, check out these books.
‘Mr. Dickens and His Carol’ by Samantha Silva
“Mr. Dickens and His Carol” was written by Samantha Silva, and it’s written as a love letter to Charles Dickens and one of the best-known Christmas stories in history: “Christmas Carol.” It was released in October so that you can add it to your winter reading list. Introduction: Silva takes the reader on a journey with Dickens who is having writer’s block. Silva takes him on a journey that is similar to the one Scrooge, Dickens’ most famous character, will go through in the pages of his story.
‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey
The word “snow child” might make you think of snowball fights from your childhood and cups of hot chocolate to keep your hands warm. But that’s not what Eowyn Ivey’s book, The Snow Child, is about. When Jack and Mabel don’t have any children, they try to make a home in 1920s Alaska. This book is both eerie and fun. Even though they live in a remote area and have trouble getting pregnant, their isolation is taking its toll. When the couple makes a “snow baby” in the woods near their homestead, they don’t know that it will change their lives forever. They also didn’t make the baby they wanted.
‘Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North’ by Blair Braverman
This memoir will take you to a place where it’s almost always winter. First, you’ll go to arctic Norway, and then you’ll go to an Alaskan glacier. Blair Braverman is the author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North, which tells the story of her job as a dog sledding tour guide in a land dominated by snow, cold, and men. All of her physical and mental limits were tested and eventually broken. Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is a powerful memoir about women’s strength and young people’s dreams. It also reads like a love letter to a landscape that few people get to see in real life.
‘Winter Garden’ by Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden takes readers to Russia, where it always snows. It tells the story of two sisters and their complicated relationship with their mother, Anya, who is cold, distant, and isolated like the land around her. She wasn’t always like that. When the sisters go back to their childhood home because their father is sick, they learn about their mother’s war-trained past and how she became the ice-cold woman they’ve always known.
‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ by David Guterson
The San Piedro Island setting in David Guterson’s book will make you reach for your mittens no matter what time of year it is. Snow Falling on Cedars is a story of war and exile, love and loss, and a post-World War II murder trial. It’s set against the backdrop of a post-war murder trial, where a Japanese American man is made a scapegoat and put on trial not just for the murder, but for the complex and violent relationships that the people of San Piedro Island had with their Japanese American residents after Pearl Harbor, as well.
‘Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage’ by Kathleen Winter
A lot of times, I don’t know what keeps me awake at night. The plight of the polar bear is one of them. Kathleen Winter’s book Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage takes readers to a place where climate change and international politics meet. She follows a group of scientific experts who study everything from marine biology to politics as they travel through the Northwest Passage, a waterway that runs through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America, and across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (aka: the coldest place on earth). Winter sees the effects of climate change firsthand, as well as the complicated and heartbreaking beauty of this landscape that made the news.
‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ by J. K. Rowling
There’s something about Christmas at Hogwarts that just makes you want to read the book in the middle of winter, even though Harry Potter is all about wizards, witches, and magic and takes place in all kinds of weather. There are Christmas scenes in each of the seven books, but there’s something about the first one in Hogwarts castle that makes it extra special.
‘The Shining’ by Stephen King
A thriller can be good for any time of the year, not just Halloween. As a matter of fact, the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining is one of the most wintery places I’ve ever read about. The Shining tells the terrifying story of Jack Torrance and his family, who become caretakers for the Overlook Hotel, which is based on a real hotel in Colorado. They get a lot more than private sledding slopes for Christmas. One supernatural horror after another happens to this family while they’re stuck in the snow. Jack’s son, Danny, is already a little haunted, so he inspires the hotel to do a lot of weird things.
‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon
For your winter reading list, there’s another thriller. Because, why not? It’s a ghost story called The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. It takes place in a small town in Vermont, where the women of West Hall have been victims of violence and disappearances for a long time. One of Ruthie’s relatives, Ruthie, is 19 years old and lives in West Hall. Ruthie has to figure out how to avoid her family’s violent fate.
‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R. R. Martin
When it comes to A Song of Ice and Fire, I don’t know for sure that it always almost feels like winter, but the catchphrase of the whole thing is “winter is coming.” I think that sums up the whole thing.
‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, is another book that will take you to a place where it’s always cold. It’s not just because of the Russian cold, but because of the coldest of cold shoulders that Anna has to deal with, which makes it even more wintery. This one isn’t going to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It tells the story of Anna, who is married but not happy, and how she tries to build a new life with her lover, as well as how she makes a heartbreaking decision. Make sure your fireplace is ready before you start reading this one.