When the weather gets cold, there are few pleasures more delightful than curling up under a warm blanket and reading a good book. You get your hot beverage of choice, put on your comfiest sweats, and just settle in for a peaceful stretch of reading. It's the perfect way to spend a winter's day.
You can read any book at any time, of course, but some titles lend themselves better to particular situations. Then there are those books that can change your mood or environment with their own, special kind of magic.
Take winter books, for example. Some writers will just let you know it's the snowy season; others make you feel the cold, deep, deep down in your bones. When you're reading a book like that, you don't just want a blanket to make you comfy — you need it.
The books on this list will make you pull out your thickest comforter, wrap yourself in a fleece throw, and maybe even throw on a hoodie for good measure. Their descriptions of ice, snow, and snow will bring winter right into your room, even in the heat of summer. Be sure to grab a blanket and some cocoa before you tackle any of these great winter reads.
1. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This book inspired this list. I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter in middle school. I've never forgotten how the author's description of that blizzard-heavy winter in 1880 and 1881 made me so cold that I needed warm clothes to read it — in balmy South Carolina.
2. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Boris Pasternak's classic tale of love in tumultuous, early-20th century Russia won the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature. A large portion of the novel takes place in Siberia: one of the coldest regions on Earth.
3. Alone on the Ice by David Roberts
In the 1910s, explorer Douglas Mawson pulled together a team for his Australasian Antarctic Expedition. In November 1912, Mawson took two other men and a team of sled dogs on a surveying sledge. He returned to camp in February 1913, the sole survivor.
4. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Jean Craighead George's Julie of the Wolves is a brilliant, Newberry Award-winning novel about an Inuit teen who journeys out onto the tundra to escape an atrocious arranged marriage. After she bonds with a pack of wild wolves, Julie faces a difficult decision: continue to live in the wild, or return to human society?
5. Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson
Between 1943 and 1944, the Red Army encircled Wehrmacht troops that were hunkered down in the middle of Leningrad during one of the most brutal winters on record. When composer Dmitri Shostakovich found himself trapped between the two factions and surrounded by death, he composed his Symphony No. 7, titled "Leningrad."
6. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars centers on two lovers caught between a controversial, racially-charged murder trial and a blizzard that overtakes their tiny island.
7. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater's young adult romance stars Grace, a young girl whose fascination with a yellow-eyed wolf leads her to Sam, a yellow-eyed boy, who's caught in a struggle to remain human.
8. Between Shades of Gray by Rupta Sepetys
When one of Stalin's purges ships 15-year-old Lina and her family off to a Siberian concentration camp, the young girl turns to art in the hopes that she can send a message to her lost father.
9. Endurance by Alfred Lansing
In the winter of 1914-1915, explorer Ernest Shackleton and his men found themselves locked into Antarctic ice floes. They would not be rescued until August 1916. Alfred Lansing's 1999 title, Endurance, tells the story of their survival against icy odds.
10. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
The eponymous protagonist of Edith Wharton's 1911 novella, Ethan Frome, leads a miserable existence on his unyielding farm. When his wife's prettier, younger cousin comes to stay, Ethan grows increasingly obsessed with the life of contentment he dreams of spending with her.
11. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
In the middle of a harsh winter, a childless Alaskan couple build a child-sized snowman. The snowman disappears, replaced by a young girl named Faina who runs wild in the forest. They grow to love her, but will she still be their child, come spring?
12. 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
Set in a famous Philadelphia jazz club, this uplifting novel centers on three lonely people — including a precocious 9-year-old who dreams of becoming a singer — and their fateful search for companionship over the course of one Christmas Eve night.
13. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
In this Harry Hole novel, Jo Nesbø’s famous detective is tasked with solving the disappearance of a young boy's mother. His only clue: a snowman that mysteriously appeared during the first snowfall of the year, wearing the missing woman's scarf around its neck.
14. Blood on the Snow by David Cook
In David Cook's Blood on the Snow, British Army Lieutenant Jack Hallam faces the challenge of leading his regiment in their retreat from the Flanders battlefield during the freezing winter of 1794.
15. 8,000 Miles Across Alaska by Jill Homer and Tim Hewitt
In this travel memoir, Pennsylvania lawyer and dedicated runner Tim Hewitt recounts his eight trips — on foot — along Alaska's Iditarod Trail, where blizzards and mishaps are a way of life.