Let’s pretend it wasn’t 60 degrees in Washington, DC yesterday, okay y’all?
Tropical storms. Ruining winter for everyone. Last week at least, we got the real tease of the winter to come. Freezing temperatures, biting wind, the whole shebang.
That means that for the first time this year, I lit a candle, bundled myself into a sweatshirt, a blanket, and a cozy chair and curled up with a book for the sole purpose of making me feel warm and cozy again. I know this won’t be the last time this season that I want something to help get me through the toughest part of the year.
That got me assembling this list.
Here are some of my top book recommendations for keeping you warm this winter!
1. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
Mmmmm Ann Patchett. Does anyone else scream coziness in quite the same way?
I haven’t picked up Commonwealth yet, but it seems like the perfect book to get lost in during the dead of winter. Following the ins and outs of family drama and spanning five decades, Commonwealth will probably be the kind of book where you just dissolve into the characters and can get completely caught up in the lives of the four parents and six children involved in the epic.
2. Dragon Springs Road, by Janie Chang
This novel sounds downright beautiful.
Following Jialing from her childhood, this is a coming of age story set in early 20th-century Shanghai. The intermingling of Jialing’s story as an orphan with the super interesting cultural and ethnic divides in Shanghai and China make for what sounds like a really unique world.
One of the things I love to get out of a winter read is transportation to another time or place, and Dragon Springs Road definitely sounds like the type of novel that will whisk me away.
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
In the category of “books I haven’t read and probably should have by this point in my life” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is super high on my list.
Another coming-of-age story, Betty Smith’s classic explores the life of Francie Nolan living in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. With how much Brooklyn has changed and evolved, I doubt that I’ll even recognize the Brooklyn of Smith’s time.
It’s also a rare exploration of working class life written by a person who inhabits that world, which is a different perspective from what I am typically exposed to.
4. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
This this not the book to read if you want something to take you to a positive place.
However, if you really want to sink into the cold, dead spirit of winter, this is definitely the right read. It’s been years now since The Book Thief was released, but it’s message about love, family, and protecting the vulnerable seems spot on these days.
If you’ve missed out on The Book Thief, you should know that it’s narrated by Death, the scythe bearing personified version. Definitely makes for an interesting perspective!
5. A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
After Austyn read this book, she said she cried for ages. Something to keep in mind.
That said, there’s something about winter that screams “read a giant book!” and A Little Life is a freaking huge book.
It’s also supposed to be one of the most astonishing, upsetting and moving books written in recent years. It explores love and friendship in a modern setting, and does not shy away from the darkest subjects.
So many trigger warnings. And yet so good.
6. The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This is the only piece of non-fiction on my list, and I think that’s because it’s hard for me to read non-fiction in winter. Not as much escapism.
That said, The Emperor of All Maladies has been on my list for so long, and the story it tells – of the history of cancer – is one that touches nearly all of our lives. It’s supposed to be a fascinating look into the discoveries, setbacks, and treatments, all described in a away that makes cancer seem like the protagonist in a thrilling novel.
Definitely worth settling down with for a few cozy weekends.
7. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Do I need to offer an explanation?
Assuming that we’ve all read Harry Potter at this stage in our reading lives, it’s worth considering doing a re-read this winter! I’m considering taking on HP in audiobook format this winter. It’d be a fun way to revisit all the characters and world in a new way!
Regardless, spending the winter months in Hogwarts and Hogsmeade would be an extremely fun way to disappear out of the real world and escape into a world of magic.
8. Perfect Little World, by Kevin Wilson
Wilson’s second novel, which is coming out at the end of January, is definitely an escape into a unique world.
In Perfect Little World, a child psychologist, Dr. Grind, sets out to create just that – a perfect little world. His attempt to study what happens when ten children are raised collectively without knowing who their biological parents is not the utopia he envisions. Of course, the balance disintegrates, making it seem like a really interesting exploration of what defines family and what ideals ought to look like.
9. The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories, by Chanelle Benz
Short story collections always make a nice edition to winter reads. Sure – you might have the time for those long haul books, but you also might be strapped for reading time with everyone trapped inside in the same house.
This debut collection has everyone talking. It cuts across severely different settings – from modern Philadephia to sixteenth centry England. There is a common thread – it’s adventure seeking behavior. Each of the characters pushes themselves into moral dilemnas, where they become victims or perpetrators.
Definitely a great collection to get you thinking.
10. Slade House, by David Mitchell
If you loved The Bone Clocks or Cloud Atlas, you know why I think David Mitchell belongs in a winter reading list. It’s that epic feeling, meshing interesting individual characters with incredibly complex and well developed worlds.
Slade House is a page-turning thriller, but still manages to span more than 50 years. Following a creepy brother and sister pair through the decades, you’ll be asking yourself what happens inside Slade House, and why you may not want to be invited in.