If you’re an East Coast gal who read your way through Winter Storm Jonas last week, then you probably already have your own list of the best books to read during winter. (And if you didn’t have an epic to-read pile ready by the time all that snow fell, I’m betting you do now.) I mean, let’s be real: The highlight of last week’s unrelenting winter storm definitely wasn’t the two-plus days it took to dig your car out — it was all that reading you got to catch up on, amirite?
I don’t know about you, but for me books and winter go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like milk and cookies. Like grilled cheese and tomato soup. Like wine and a little more wine. (Come to think of it, these are all things that pair with books pretty well, too.) Anyway, you catch my drift — books and wintertime weather are just one of life’s perfect little combos.
Even if all evidence of Winter Storm Jonas has already melted away wherever you are (lucky you) it’s still the best time of year to snuggle up in your favorite blanket and read the days away. Here are nine books that every woman should read this winter.
1. Far North by Marcel Theroux
As a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction, Marcel Theroux’s Far North is a definite wintertime must-read. This snow-filled book tells the story of one man — the book-loving sheriff, Makepeace — who thinks he’s the last survivor in an icy, desolate landscape. But as he explores his arctic surroundings a bit further, he discovers evidence that life may be flourishing elsewhere (kind of like how you felt all of last weekend).
2. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
In Eowyn Ivey’s haunting and whimsical novel, The Snow Child , Jack and Mabel have set out to make a home for themselves in what some call the last frontier — aka: 1920s Alaska. But being both isolated and childless in a desolate landscape is taking its toll on the couple. Then, when the pair playfully construct a “snow baby” in the woods near their homestead, they unknowingly give life to some supernatural forces that will change their lives forever.
3. Butterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Two breakups, accidental roadkill, last-minute childcare, and a winning lottery ticket make for the start of one epic road trip — across Iceland, of all locales. In Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir’s Butterflies in November you’ll meet the endearingly twee unnamed narrator and her 4-year-old charge as they explore Iceland together and learn a whole lot about love, loss, and of course butterflies.
4. Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage by Kathleen Winter
If your knowledge of how climate change and international politics really effect the Arctic is limited to your fave (as it should be) “Club Sandwiches Not Seals” tee, then this book will definitely be a huge wake up call. In Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage , writer Kathleen Winter (appropriately named) travels the Northwest Passage with a group of scientific experts on everything from marine biology to anthropology, and experiences firsthand the complicated, heartbreaking beauty of a landscape that has already begun to change irreversibly and forever.
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
What is it about Russian literature that makes the perfect wintertime read? Is it the snow? The furry hats? The complicated language and melancholy settings? Well, whatever it is, Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Anna Karenina , is definitely one to sit down with when it’s especially cold outside. It tells the story of the unhappily married Anna, the social conventions she struggles (and refuses) to submit to, her attempts to build a life with her lover, and her final decision to make an irreversible choice.
6. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Another Russian-inspired wintery read, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena — a New York Times Notable Book of the Year — takes readers to conflict-torn Chechnya, where 8-year-old Havaa escapes an invasion and fire that took her father from her and destroyed her home. When the family’s neighbor, Akhmed, decides to rescue Havaa and himself, they’ll find themselves depending on both fate and a rather unwilling savior.
7. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
Suspenseful, raw, and heart-wrenching, David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars weaves together a story of war and exile, romance and loss, all set against the backdrop of a murder trial that brings to light the haunting history of one remote island community and their failure to protect their own during the tense years immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This one is unforgettable.
8. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Why is it that some of the saddest books always seem to take place during the hush of a snow-covered landscape? Edith Wharton’s classic Ethan Frome is one such title, taking readers to a lonely farm run by an unhappy couple whose lives are about to change with the arrival of another young woman. Sure, this book might make you entirely miserable, but there’s no contesting that it’s beautifully written.
9. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
If you haven’t gotten your fix of wintertime Russian landscapes yet, then cap off your wintery reading with Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden , a story about two sisters and their complicated relationship with their mother Anya — a woman who has never been anything but cold and distant. When the sisters reconnect at their childhood home, over the illness of their father, they discover for the first time a lifetime of secrets about their mother’s war-informed past, and how she became the women they’ve always known.