Are you looking for something 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 holiday-themed reading.
When writing this post, 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 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)
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 thereFredrick Backman
That stunning begins the popular 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 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” as well as one of the best books for men to read and the perfect addition to an Around the World Reading Challenge for Sweden.
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 book.
The Great Alone is a book 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 it. 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.
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 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.
One by One by Ruth Ware
Best for fans of modern thrillers
Speaking of Agatha Christie, One by One is an Agatha Christie-style thriller from the bestselling thriller author Ruth Ware. After eight mysterious 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, one by one.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
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 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 story of family, love, and faith in the face of the harshest elements of Winter.
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 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
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 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.
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 read with all kinds of thoughtful musings on Winter. 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!
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.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
- In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
- Run by Ann Patchett
- The Shining by Stephen King
- Trapped by Michael Northrup
- A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire
Those are the best winter-themed books with which you can cozy up next to a fireplace when it’s cold and snowing outside.
And, if you are, check out my hygge gift guide.
You may also want to check out my quick guide on how to read more when stuck inside.
And since I love pairing books with lifestyle, if you are in the mood for some wintery music, check out this winter-themed playlist I created on Spotify:
Lastly, pin this post to Pinterest because I will continue to update it and you can refer back to it later.