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21+ Best Winter Themed Books for Cold Days

Are you looking for books with Winter settings to read while watching the snow fall and curling up in front of a blazing fireplace? This post shares the best winter-themed books with which you can cozy up in the cold.

It's a great follow-up to your holiday reads.

When writing this post of books with Winter settings, I realized that many of the books below are favorites of mine. Winter really does make a poignant book setting in which so much drama can occur. I find these books about Winter to have some of the most marvelous settings as well. All of the best winter-themed books are below.

Best Winter Themed Books for Adults (Novels)

The Best Books Set in Winter (which I have read; more details about each below):

More Books Set in Winter (I haven't read yet):

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Best for fans of fantasy

National Bestseller

The Bear and The Nightingale is the first in the Winternight trilogy series, beloved by fantasy book lovers. It's a YA coming-of-age Russian fairy tale in which young Vasilia and her family brave the Medieval Russian wilderness each Winter. Together with the Frost King, she must face the brutality of the Winter King to save the village.

I always struggle with fantasy (I'm a realist), so this one was a bit of a struggle for me as I anticipated, but one great tip I can share is there's actually a Russian glossary at the end of it! I wish I knew this in the beginning, so I could better keep track of the unfamiliar language being used.

And despite it being difficult for me, I enjoyed the unique read and know it's a SUPER beloved book by fantasy fans.


Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Best for fans of Friday Night Lights

Named a Best Book of the Year by LibraryReads, BookBrowse and Goodreads (And one of my personal favorites!)

Late one evening, toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger.

This is the story of how we got there.

Fredrick Backman

That stunning begins the popular cold Winter book Beartown and, if it hasn't fully drawn you in, I don't know what will. Beartown is a small, struggling Swedish town obsessed with outdoor ice hockey, and major drama ensues amongst the many community members, whose lives intersect with each other in very consequential ways.

Beartown's ice hockey team is competing in the national semi-finals, and they are set to win. The town's fate rests in the hands of a team of teenage boys.

The big game becomes the catalyst for an act of violence that leaves a teenage girl traumatized. The result is a town in turmoil.

Beartown presents both the communal hope inspired by a winter sporting event and what can tear them apart. You will be completely immersed in the world of Beartown and its many community members. This is truly a modern "must read" book about Winter, as well as one of the best books for men to read.

For more, read my full review of Beartown and the sequel, Us Against You.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Best for fans of emotional historical fiction

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller

The Great Alone, and particularly its desolate and cold Alaska setting utterly mesmerized me. On numerous occasions, I found myself googling “Alaska 1970s” to get an even clearer picture of the beautiful state which was itself a main character in this cold Winter book.

The Great Alone is one of the best Winter books of survival set in a harsh climate. The Allbright family is dealing with the PTSD of the father, Ernt, who was a POW in Vietnam.

Thirteen-year-old Leni is caught in the crossfire of her father's mental illness and her parents' tumultuous relationship, but her friendship with a local boy keeps her sane.

As the long and brutal winter approaches, trauma ensues and Leni and her mother are left to survive on their own.

The Great Alone has stayed with me since I first read it, and I still often think about this book about Winter. It is, without question, one of the best winter-themed books. It's such a beautiful story about the human spirit fighting for survival figuratively and literally in a wilderness that can be both beautiful and devastating.

I loved the 1970s Alaskan setting of The Great Alone so much that I created this entire blog post about The Great Alone.


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Best for fans of travel and mysteries

THE MOST WIDELY READ MYSTERY OF ALL TIME!

The Orient Express -- the actual train itself-- is on my bucket list. It is the ultimate vintage luxury setting amongst a moody winter European backdrop. But, I digress.

In the cold Winter book Murder on the Orient Express, after the stroke of midnight, a snowdrift halts the Orient Express to a stop. By morning, an American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, having been stabbed a dozen times, with his door locked from the inside.

Isolated by the snow and with a killer on board, detective Hercule Poirot must uncover the murderer from a cast of memorable characters full of secrets.

I have not personally read Murder on the Orient Express yet, but I really enjoyed the recent movie version of this book with a Winter setting.

Or, learn more about where you can get free Agatha Christie books.


One by One by Ruth Ware

Best for fans of Agatha Christie and "Clue" type mysteries

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Speaking of Agatha Christie, One by One is an Agatha Christie-style thriller book set in Winter from the bestselling thriller author Ruth Ware.

After eight coworkers from a trendy London tech start-up get snowed in at a luxurious ski resort in the French Alps, an avalanche cuts the group off from the outside world.

It may seem cozy, but as the hours pass without any sign of a possible rescue, the group begins to dwindle, as four characters die "one by one" in this "locked door" mystery book about Winter, in which ulterior motives and dark secrets are slowly revealed as tensions mound.

This atmospheric book kept me totally engaged and guessing "whodunnit" as I read along in the "dead" of Winter.

Related post: One by One by Ruth Ware Summary and Character Guide


Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

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Best for fans of literature and character-driven novels

  • National bestseller
  • One of Time Magazine's Top Five Books of the Year

"Once in a great while, a book comes along that has such wonderful characters and marvelous prose, that you read it as much for the pure joy it offers on every page as to find out how it ends."

 -Denver Post

Peace Like A River is a remarkable debut Winter book with each sentence as thoughtfully crafted as an Ann Patchett novel. Not unlike Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, eleven-year-old Reuben Land, narrates the tale of tracking his outlaw brother's murder trial and escape across the Midwest in the 1960s. Reuben and his sister and father traverse snowy terrain in search of their relative, believing in miracles all along the way.

It's a unique book with Winter settings and themes of family, love, and faith in the face of the harshest elements.


Run by Ann Patchett

Best for fans of character-driven novels

Run is yet another tremendous novel by the great Ann Patchett, this time about the 24 hours after a snowy Boston car accident that forever binds and changes the futures of two families...and exposes their shared pasts.

Set in such a small about of time, it's a character-driven novel about family, economics, politics, and duty, and it's one of my favorites of hers, teasing out all of the details about one unique group of people you come to love, and how they react to each other over the course of the most momentous day of their lives.


The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Best for fans of mysteries and thrillers

An instant New York Times bestseller!

The Sanatorium is a Reeses's book club pick that's an atmospheric thriller, taking place at an isolated hotel (formerly a sanatorium) high in the snowy Swiss Alps.

Elin has taken time off from her job as a detective and is still processing the death of her brother many years ago, when she visits with her estranged brother and his new fiance to celebrate their engagement.

In the midst of a storm, something even more sinister is brewing as her soon-to-be sister-in-law goes missing. As the storm closes off access to the hotel, panic ensues and a wild ride of twists, turns, more missing persons, and even deaths unfold, thrusting Elin back into detective mode to uncover the truth about this hotel.

It's a captivating and creepy, Wintery thriller that constantly moves in different directions and tackles numerous mysteries at once in the most perfectly eerie setting for the season.


The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

Best for fans of stories about second chances and middle-aged protagonists

THE INSTANT BESTSELLER!

The Secret of Snow is a beautifully written story about coping with grief that you won't be able to put down (I certainly wasn't!). Sonny Dunes is a single, middle-aged California meteorologist whose job is replaced by a virtual meteorologist. When this causes her to have a breakdown, the only station that's willing to hire her is in the Michigan hometown she's been avoiding.

She's preferred her "sunny" lifestyle for one glaring reason that's haunted her -- snowy Michigan reminds her of her younger sister, who loved the snow...and died because of it.

As her genuinely charming mother welcomes her back and helps her navigate her new life, Sonny is also forced to face her grief and her fear and disdain for the snow head-on.

Covering the small town's Winter events, she starts to form newer, better memories of the snow, and have a second chance at life and love. Filled with snow-related metaphors, this is one Wintery book fans of thoughtful modern women's fiction will not want to miss.


The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Best for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and The Giver of Stars

Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The Snow Child is one of the best Alaska romance books, set in 1920. The landscape has been tough on Jack and Mabel. They are childless and drifting apart. Jack is crumbling under the weight of running the farm, and Mabel is isolated and lonely.

During the season's first snowfall, they build a child from the snow. The snow child is gone by the next morning, but a young blond girl of the wilderness, Faina, is running through the trees.

Jack and Mabel cannot fathom how Faina seems to have appeared from the pages of a fairy tale, yet they begin to love her as a daughter. However, Alaska can be a violent and mysterious place, but Faina transforms them all.

If you are a super fan of Where the Crawdads Sing, you should definitely try this Winter book, as it has a very similar character arc.  It also shares the historical backdrop of women in The Giver of Stars.


Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Best for fans of Beartown and Friday Night Lights

Us Against You is the sequel to Beartown, mentioned above, and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than Beartown. It solidified my thinking that this storyline is a modern classic.

NOTE: If you haven't read Beartown yet, and don't want to see any potential spoilers, skip to the next book!

In Us Against You, the citizens of Beartown learn that their beloved hockey team will be disbanded. What's worse is that some of the players are now playing for the rival team. And a newcomer is picked to be Beartown’s new coach, as a new Beartown team takes shape.

Tensions rise as the big game approaches and enemy lines are drawn deeper. By the time the final game is played, one resident of Beartown will be dead, and the residents of both towns are left to wonder if hockey can ever be a simple game again.


Winter by Ali Smith

Best for fans of family drama fiction

Winter is the second in Man Booker Prize Finalist Ali Smith's beloved seasonal quartet of books. It's set not just in Winter, but around Christmas (however, it really does not read as a "Christmas" book and definitely has more Winter themes and tones to it).

Darkness is immediately introduced in Winter as Sophia, a 60-something living alone in Cornwall, deals with a speck in her cornea that has grown into a " disembodied human head."

However, the novel centers around the 2017 Christmas in which Sophia's son, Art (who loves to blog at "Art in Nature"), comes home to visit with his new girlfriend Lux. Sophia also struggles to cope with her relationship with her sister, Iris.

Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, the family dynamics, as well as political and social themes of Brexit and more are explored, with an emphasis on working together, both in personal relationships and the community.


Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Best for fans of emotional historical fiction like that of Chantel Cleeton

In Winter Garden, one of Kristin Hannah's best books, Meredith and Nina Whitson are two very different sisters. While one is a stay-at-home mother managing the family apple orchard, the other is a famed, world-traveled photojournalist.

When their father becomes sick, the sisters come together again, next to their cold and disapproving mother. The only connection between the sisters and their mother was the Russian fairy tale their mother often told them.

Their father's last wish is that the fairy tale is told one last time—and all the way to the end thereof. This begins a journey into the truth behind their mother's life in war-torn Leningrad decades ago, and the sisters learn a secret so terrible that it shakes them to the core and changes their beliefs about themselves.


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Best for fans of spooky, supernatural ghost stories

The Winter People was such a great read for me! For fans of Stephen King and Stranger Things, it's great for those who want spooky reading reason to last beyond the Fall. The suspense kept me engaged, and there were also twists that surprised me.

In present-day Vermont, the town of West Hall has a history of mysterious disappearances and deaths, all the way back to Sara Harrison Shea, who was found dead in 1908 shortly after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie, in a snowstorm. Now, in the same house, nineteen-year-old Ruthie's mom has disappeared without a trace.

A partial copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary begins to offer clues about The Winter People, as Ruthie learns she's not the only one looking for someone that they've lost. The race for the truth reveals both the supernatural dangers that lurk in shadows and the power of familiar love.


Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May

Best for fans of non-fiction

New York Times bestseller

Wintering is a quick non-fiction book about Winter with all kinds of thoughtful musings on the season. The author reflects on this season after her husband became ill, her son stopped attending school and her own medical issues led her to leave her job.

The author looks to literature, mythology, and nature for insight into the transformative power of rest and retreat. There's: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing the arctic seas.

At the end of the day, it's an interesting read about how we relate to the season of Winter, accepting its presence and finding nourishment and joy within.


Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Best for those looking for an escape

Winter in Paradise by popular author Elin Hilderbrand whisks you away to St. John, just after the New Year. As Irene rings in a cold and snowy Midwestern New Year, one shocking phone call forever changes her life. Her beloved husband, who was away on "business," was killed in a helicopter crash on the Caribbean island of St. John.

After Irene and her sons arrive in St. John, they discover that Irene's husband had a secret life involving some of the locals. This one is pure Winter escapism!


Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Best for those looking for a light, heartwarming story

Winter Solstice is a bit tough to characterize because it contains both elements of Winter and Christmas. However, it does have Winter in the title, and it refers to the new beginnings the solstice offers, so I am placing it on this list of Winter books versus my Christmas book list.

I read it after Christmas, and it didn't feel too festive to me. I think it can be read and enjoyed anytime in December or January.

Anyway, it's the story of a group of five people who end up spending the holidays together in a large, Scottish estate house: a former London stage actress, a grieving widow, a young woman recovering from an ill-fated love affair with a married man, her angsty teenage niece, and a young divorcee without a real "home."

And it's filled with snow, charm, and second chances.


More Winter Themed Books

Below are a few more winter-themed books that are on my list, but I haven't finished them up yet. I will update this post when I do.


Those are the best winter-themed books with which you can cozy up next to a fireplace when it's cold and snowing outside.

Shop this full list of books set in Winter on Amazon now.

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