18 Wintery Reads Perfect for the Arctic Hell of 2018

With winter really settling in and most of the country being pummelled by either giant snow storms or freezing temps , staying inside isn’t so much a choice as a survival tactic. If you’re looking for a book or two to help pass the time as you huddle under blankets, sip tea, and pray your pipes don’t freeze, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wintery literature.

The Adventures of Mr. Gilfump by Paul Mason Howard

This small picture book, about a lumberjack whose job it is to plant all the Christmas trees, gives me a warm feeling just thinking about all the snowy nights I spent nestled in the covers at my cabin while my grandparents read out of the yellowed pages my Dad grew up with. So unabashedly Northwoods-ey, so cozy, and utterly reminiscent of the first snowy day of the year.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

This short YA novel takes place during a snowstorm and grapples with the changes in a friendship that occur at the during the first semester of college. It’s like living in an emotional snowstorm. Plus, you can easily read it over the course of a single snow day.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

Minnesota winters, wolves, YA romance – the perfect series to curl up with while you weather out this storm. Stiefvater approaches werewolves in a more scientific manner. There’s also some really great kissing.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

These three interconnected stories involve a snowstorm around Christmas. It’s fun, cute, and will definitely warm your heart.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin 

The unofficial, official tagline of George R. R. Martin’s series is “Winter is Coming.” What more incentive do you need to settle into these books on a cold day?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Filled with loving and warring sisters holed up in their chilly attic putting on plays, writing penny dreadfuls, fighting off scarlet fever and having constant snow ball fights with the dashing (rich) neighbor boy, this classic will warm your heart in the depths of winter.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Let’s face it: this snow isn’t going away anytime soon. This series is the perfect way to fight cabin fever. Our favorite winter scenes from the series include Fred and George Weasley throwing snowballs at the back of Quirrell’s head in the first novel and the epic snowball fight that occurs outside the Shrieking Shack in the third book.

The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket

If this snowstorm has you feeling like you’re living one long series of unfortunate events, you might find solace in the misery of the Baudelaire orphans, specifically in the tenth book where everyone’s really cold and they use a makeshift toboggan to descend the slippery slope.

The Poetry of Robert Frost

From “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” to a “Winter Eden,” Frost took his time examining the New England seasons, and none so eloquently as the cold. His imagery simultaneously puts a little frost in your veins, but in the most delightful way.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

If you wish this endless winter had talking animals, battle scenes, and a lion that defrosts your friends and brings the warm weather, then this is the classic story you should curl up with.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Is there anything more appropriate to freezing temperatures than a book about Russian winters? Geopolitical academics that it’s the hot climates that breed unrest, but if Tolstoy was anything to go by, those endless freezes from St. Petersburg to Moscow are the backdrop of some of the dirtiest drama you’ll ever find on the page.

Call of the Wild by Jack London

Sled dogs, and a pampered house pet having to find his primordial beast in the Yukon? Sounds like an adventure to keep your blood pumping and your feet warm.

His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman

With its magical ice bear rides, secret polar facilities, and dashing winter wear, Lyra’s adventures throughout the books makes the cold seem not only bearable, but delightful.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

So much of this book takes place under the cold snows of Germany, whispering the frailties and tragedies ahead for our characters in Death’s narration. In many ways the cold winter is the perfect backdrop and foe for children still learning what it means to have evil sweep through their country.

A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Both books use the chilly British winters to showcase the dire bleakness of the situation our two heroines find themselves in after being removed from the vibrant heat-soaked India they grew up. In A Little Princess Sara cannot adapt to the London boarding school she finds herself in after her parents death. For Mary, she arrives at her distant uncle’s drafty house and filled with the screams of her sickly cousin. In both books the girls must overcome not only the pain of their pasts, but bring that warmth to thaw even the coldest places and hearts.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sometimes it can be nice to pull out an easy read and revisit childhood. This book captures that snow day feeling while also reminding you that winter could be a lot colder, hungrier, and scarier. The Long Winter captures Laura’s account of an actual blizzard, hard winter, and famine in the Dakota Territories but also finds the rose among the thorns with sleigh rides and teenage pranks.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A snow demon and frigid Russian snow storms may make you teensy bit scared of going out in the snow after you read this. Full of magic and folklore, it is perfect to read within a couple of snowy days.

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Part capitalist fantasy, part magical realism, Winter’s Tale is a 672 page novel set in early 1900’s New York City– though no New York that ever existed in this world– and follows the adventures of Peter Lake, a Dickensian orphan who becomes part engineer, part burglar, part romantic hero. To try and explain the plot any further would be a disservice to the book, but perhaps the most memorable moments come during forays into the Lake of the Coheeries, a magical place in upstate New York, cloaked forever in the beauty of winter.  Within the fantastical, often bizarre, plot, which jumps over 100 years in time, Helprin creates a world in which the efficiency of a well-executed machine carries as much beauty and inspiration as a first kiss under falling snow.  

Maggie Stough

Maggie Stough

Maggie is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and is currently trying to make the most out of post grad life (read: figuring out what she’s supposed to be doing on this planet). When she’s not having an existential crisis, you can find her working on a novel, having a cuppa, petting a dog, reading a YA novel, coloring, getting her cardio in at a concert, or quilting.
Maggie Stough
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