9 Winter Books That Aren't About Christmas, Because The Reading Season Lasts Beyond The Holidays

Winter is the perfect season for reading. The weather gets colder, so you no longer have to justify your year-round desire to sit alone in your house under several metric tons of snuggly blankets, sipping on tea and reading wintry novels. But winter also brings with it one to two entire months of holiday madness: Christmas songs, Christmas movies, ugly Christmas sweater parties, and several shelf's worth of Christmas books. Sometimes you need a break from all the tinsel and the goodwill towards men. Here are few winter books that aren't about Christmas, for when you want to escape into a slightly more secular winter wonderland.

Not everybody celebrates Christmas, after all. And even the people who do celebrate Christmas can get sick of the crowded stores, the creepy stop motion reindeer, and the inescapable sounds of Mariah Carey. As the start of the Christmas season creeps ever closer to Halloween, it can be nice to sit down and read a book that doesn't button up neatly with a holiday feast and a man in red suit passing judgment on children's behavior. These books range from snowy romances to thrilling Yukon adventures, and I promise that none of the characters ever learn the true meaning of Christmas in any of them:

'Blankets' by Craig Thompson

Set against the bleak, beautiful backdrop of a Wisconsin winter, Blankets is a gorgeously illustrated story of first love and first heartbreak. Yes, the main characters do grapple with their Christian faith, but the plot is less "holly jolly" and more "losing my religion."

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'Wintersmith' by Terry Pratchett

Tiffany Aching is a young witch-in-training in the wonderfully weird land of Discworld. When she catches sight of the "Dark Dance" of the changing seasons, she decides to join in—only to catch the eye of the mysterious Wintersmith. Now Tiffany has to deal with her own coming of age and the attentions of an ancient winter elemental who just might bury her entire world in snow.

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'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass or Northern Lights is the first book in Philip Pullman's brilliant trilogy, His Dark Materials. The church is certainly mentioned, but not in a fun, Christmas-y context. Rather, young Lyra finds herself journeying to the Arctic to save her young friend from the clutches of the church, with the help of some witches and armored, talking polar bears.

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'White is for Witching' by Helen Oyeyemi

What's less Christmas-y than a haunted house story? White is for Witching is the mesmerizing tale of one family recovering from a great loss in their isolated, cliffside home. At first it seems that they are merely haunted by grief, but one daughter soon discovers that there is something else at work here within the walls of the house and the surprisingly fruitful trees of the winter garden...

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'Snow' by Orhan Pamuk

Ka, an expatriate poet, has returned to Turkey to investigate a growing number of suicides among young women. He finds himself in Kars, a remote town on the Russian border, where a fierce blizzard cuts him off from all contact with the westernized world. Ka is forced to reckon with his own cultural heritage, as well as a newly-divorced woman from his past who just so happens to be in town.

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'Snow Falling on Cedars' by David Guterson

On San Piedro Island, in 1954, a man named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with the murder of a fisherman. But Snow Falling on Cedars is more than just an ordinary whodunit: Guterson deftly weaves together romance and history as the island's residents grapple with the hideous aftermath of World War II.

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'Frozen' by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

No, this is not the movie about the singing snowman. This is a pulse-pounding novel set in a desperately cold Las Vegas. It's the not-so-distant future, and Earth is covered in ice. One young blackjack dealer is determined to escape her fate, though, and journey to the mythical "Blue": the last unfrozen spot on the planet.

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'The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica' by Lucy Jane Bledsoe

When you think "Antarctica" you naturally think of romance... right? The Big Bang Symphony follows three adventurous women to the southernmost place on Earth, where they'll find themselves drawn to one another in a tangled web of love, self-discovery, and ice.

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