11 books to curl up with this winter

11 books to curl up with this winter

Winter reading deserves more love than it gets.

This is a hard season for many of us daylight-craving souls, but one of my favorite coping strategies is to brew a cup of tea, find a cozy chair, and get lost in a good book.

Fittingly, I’m posting this the morning of our first snow of the season, when all I want to do is drink tea, grab a blanket, and read a gazillion pages.

These 11 novels are just the ticket for dreary winter days: they’re beautiful, compelling, and just a wee bit dark, perfectly fitting for the season.

Series: Winter Reading
Greenglass House

Greenglass House

Author:
It's holiday vacation at the smuggler's inn Greenglass House, and Milo finds himself with a mystery to unravel. While I couldn't help but wonder if the author was tipping her hat to The Phantom Tollbooth, the story reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society. An engaging read for kids and adults alike, and a perfect choice for cozy winter evenings. More info →
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Red Rising

Red Rising

Author:
This is on my nightstand, because a wide variety of readers keep telling me it's un-put-down-able, and my friend insists it's the perfect winter read—at least, if you like the idea of curling up by the fire and escaping into another world. Kirkus says this futuristic novel is reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones. More info →
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Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River

Author:
I loved this book, set in deep North Dakota winter, even though the description didn’t sound particularly interesting to me. File under fathers and sons, tight-knit communities, and outlaws. Book club highlight: the miracles that happen in the novel, and that happen (or not) in our everyday lives. More info →
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This novel told in letters is sweet and sunny, even though it's set during a dark period of history. The action unfolds on the British island of Guernsey (and you'll want to book your trip immediately). A testament to the power of literature, but a love story at heart. (Hot tip: the audiobook is fantastic.) More info →
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Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A global pandemic, a traveling Shakespeare troupe, a comic book—and a best pick for so many readers. I was afraid this post-apocalyptic novel would be depressing (or terrifying) but it's neither. It IS a crowd-pleaser, and a pageturner: I read it in two days. More info →
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The Dry

The Dry

Author:
If you're a mystery lover currently blanketed in snow, this might be the perfect escapist pick. This almost-new (pub date: January 10 2017) release about a murder in the Australian outback that drags long-buried secrets back to the surface. The setting is the drought-ravaged Australian Outback, and the brittleness and heat are almost palpable. A terrific debut. More info →
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Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Author:
This soon-to-be-released novel (pub date February 14 2017) is a story about Lincoln, America's 16th president—kind of. The "bardo" of the title is a Tibetan concept: it's a spiritual landscape—a kind of in-between place—where we are sent between physical lives. When Lincoln's son Willie was 11, he died of typhoid, plunging Lincoln into deep grief. Saunders uses this real event as a jumping-off point to explore the near-unbearable grief of an individual, linking it to the disarray of the country he leads, at the height of its Civil War, and imagines how Lincoln's despair changed the outcome of the war. I just finished this book, and whoa, was it strange. Interesting and experimental, but definitely strange. Pro tip: if you want to read it, do so on paper, not on Kindle. More info →
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The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale

This book is just the right amount of dark and creepy for a cold winter's day. Set firmly in the tradition of Gothic greats like Jane Eyre, it kept me guessing from start to finish. When one of Britain's most celebrated novelists reaches out to the young and relative novice Margaret Lea, Margaret has one question: Why? While she decides whether to take on the assignment, she begins reading one of the author's works: Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is captivated by the stories, and puzzled by them because the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? A moody literary mystery. More info →
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The Snow Child: A Novel

The Snow Child: A Novel

Author:
This sounds like a terrific winter read. (I haven't read it yet but it's high on my TBR.) It's Alaska, 1920, the night of the first snowfall. A couple builds a child out of snow, just for fun. In the morning, the snow child is gone, but the couple spies a young girl they've never seen before running through the trees. NPR calls this "mesmerizing." More info →
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The Martian: A Novel

The Martian: A Novel

Author:
Think Cast Away, in outer space. Funny, thrilling, and surprisingly plausible. When a deadly dust storm cuts their mission short, astronaut Mark Watney’s crew makes an agonizing decision to return to earth without him. They saw his biosigns go flat: they believe they're leaving his body behind. But Watney is very much alive, and now he must find a way to survive on Mars, in a damaged station, with limited food and no communication. Next step: to cobble together a rescue plan. Think Cast Away, in outer space. It's a book you can't put down, and the audio narration is pitch perfect. More info →
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All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Author:
A captivating story, well-told. The characters in this war novel are fascinating and altogether unexpected, and the book’s setting couldn’t be lovelier: much of the action takes place in Saint-Malo, France, a unique walled port city on the English Channel. It doesn't feel overlong: its 500+ pages give Doerr plenty of room to build a believable world, and give his characters depth and feeling. An intelligent, detailed, literary novel that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. More info →
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11 novels to curl up with this winter

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82 comments

  1. EJ says:

    I LOVE the Thirteenth Tale. I read it several years ago and still recommend it to people to read.
    The Guernsey society was a well written and heartwarming story that opened my eyes to parts of WW2 history. The characters are hard to forget.
    All the Light … is one of my new favorites that I read about 6 months ago and have been recommending ever since (I started recommending it before I even finished the book!)
    I’ll have to look into these others to see if another one takes me away from the winter wonderland and into another world.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Ashley says:

    Oh friends, if you are able, push yourself to make it through Lincoln in the Bardo! The structure is unique, but the message seems so deeply important and relevant. Saunders is a master in radical empathy in both his short stories and now, this novel. I would describe this novel as “strange” and “weird” but also, humanizing, heart-wrenching, life-affirming, and imaginative to the max. Those of you are are “reading for growth,” just do it! There’s so much to be learned and felt in this novel!

  3. Marlizette says:

    Time for me to start gathering some of these books on your list, as winter is starting to creep closer in South Africa. Looking forward to snuggling under warm blankets with some hot coffee and one of these!

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