Winter may be a little grey and gloomy, but winter reading is delightfully cosy. Whether you curl up in your favourite chair, snuggle under the covers, relax in the bath with a few candles, or find a quiet corner with some soft winter light, there is plenty to love about staying inside to read.
Of course, in the colder months you might want to read about sunshine and the beach. But here we have selected the best wintertime novels: stories set in cold, arctic settings, and narratives that unfold quietly and slowly, haunting the reader beyond the page. These titles perfectly evoke the chill, snow, and silence of the winter season, and each one of them will sweep you up in their narrative and make you feel like world outside has been put on pause.
Book Group Titles:
Penney evokes the frozen lands of northern Canada in this murder mystery. As winter grips an isolated settlement, a man is murdered and a boy disappears, while tracks lead north outside the dead man’s cabin. Multiple flawed characters set out to follow the tracks across the dangerous and desolate landscape, disappearing into the snow one by one.
In Copenhagen, a child falls to his death from a snowy rooftop. The police refuse to consider it anything but an accident, but loner Miss Smilla – who has an intuitive understanding of all types of snow – believes otherwise. The action moves from Denmark to the Arctic icecap, in this beautiful, unusual thriller where snow and ice take centre stage.
In this elegant, moving book, Death says he is ‘haunted by humans’, but it is the bleakness of a German winter that haunts the protagonist Liesel, who – after picking up a book hidden in the snow at her brother’s graveside – finds her world opening up as she learns to read.
This book immerses us in the bleak but formidable landscapes of an Icelandic Winter in 1829, as Agnes Magnúsdóttir awaits execution. As the summer months falls away to a brutal winter, Kent evokes similarities between the harsh natural world and the fate of the doomed woman.
The first day of snow has fallen in Oslo, and police investigator Harry Hole is involved in solving a series of brutal murders. As the Norwegian winter seeps throughout the story, Hole finds himself trapped in the killer’s evil game. Keep an eye out for the creepy snowman!
This is a beautiful odyssey through the snowy landscapes and frozen seas of northern Finland. Two women escape from a remote island for outcasts and journey North, in search of freedom and forgiveness. A hopeful tale of love and family, and an exploration of the Sami people of Scandinavia.
On the night the Titanic sank, her passengers and crew noticed another ship nearby. Based on true events, this gripping novel explores the human failings of those who could have prevented disaster on the icy North Atlantic seas.
On a fictional island in the Puget Sound region of Washington state coast, a Japanese American is accused of killing a respected fisherman. The trial is held during a snowstorm that grips the island’s close-knit community, heightening the tension, suspense and dense atmosphere of the novel.
Set on the planet Winter, where the climate is always sub-arctic and the inhabitants are all one gender. This profound and beautifully written book begins as a thoughtful study of how a sexless society functions without the division of male vs female, but the second half moves into a breathtaking man vs nature survival story, across barren landscapes where Le Guin’s prose brings the snow, wind and ice vividly alive.
For the Genre Lovers:
Want enchanting escapist storytelling, set in fantastic wintry worlds?
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
How about some mental chills? Tuck yourself in tightly and venture into these mysterious worlds sure to send a shiver up your spine.
The Shining by Stephen King
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
These classics, set in worlds of snow, wind and ice, are sure to sweep you away.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis