Good Books to Read in Winter

What are good books to read in winter? They are the kind of stories that are especially good to read cuddled up in a blanket, holding a mug of cocoa or on a sofa next to a fire. They are heavier than summer reading but still enjoyable. Here are our best recommendations for what to read on long, winter nights.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is one of my favorite books. With a Gothic, timeless feel and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, The Thirteenth Tale is perfect reading for cool fall and winter nights. In fact, the protagonist mentions drinking hot cocoa while reading several times throughout the book -- it warms her during her mid-winter nights on the English moors, and this book (with some cocoa) will warm you and remind you why you love to read.

Audrey Niffenegger's second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, is a ghost story that takes place around Highgate Cemetery. The bare branches on the cover are the first sign that this novel has the perfect winter ambiance, and the story does not disappoint.

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'The Imperfectionists' by Tom Rachman

The Imperfectionists - Good Books to Read in Winter
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. The Dial Press

The Imperfectionists is Tom Rachman's debut novel. It is a newspaper story with good character development and a nostalgic feel that goes well with winter.

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'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Good Books to Read in Winter
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Knopf

Stieg Larsson's debut novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the two novels that finish this trilogy have sold well as beach reading, but I think they are better suited to a snowy day than a beach towel. They take place in Sweden and are full of all things Swedish -- including cold and dark. The darkness not only comes from the short days but also from the content and themes in these crime novels. If you've been wanting to check out Larsson, winter is a good time to do it.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a modern day take on a Shakespeare classic, although no knowledge of Shakespeare is required to enjoy this well-written novel about life and tragedy on a farm.

Maine and melancholy -- two words that evoke images of winter or could be used to describe Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Olive Kitteridge is melancholy; however, the stories contain glimmers of hope, like seeds buried in the snow.

  • Read a complete review of by Elizabeth Strout
  • Book Club Discussion Questions

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett is the first book in a trilogy about the major historical events of the twentieth century. Follett started writing thrillers, and Fall of Giants is a good mix of suspense and history. Hardcore history readers will probably find it too shallow, but the average reader can find much to enjoy in this book.

  • Read a complete review of by Ken Follett
  • Fall of Giants Book Club Discussion Questions