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What are the Best Books Set in the Winter Season?

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In addition to new holiday fiction and books about the holidays, what’s the best wintry, snowy and sparking book to curl up with once the calendar officially marks the start of winter? In this edition of recommended reads, our ace correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares an eclectic curated list of some of the best books set in the winter that will make you feel the snow season. Somewhere in the mix is your next great read.  

what are some the best books set in the winter season?

When people say “winter is coming,” sometimes they actually say it as if that’s bad thing. What’s up with that? We love us some winter!

The best books to curl up with that are set in winter.
The best books to curl up with that are set in winter; favorite wintry reads.

The temperatures are dropping, the sun is setting earlier, and we are all thinking about how to stay safe and cozy in the weeks ahead. Especially now, when it appears that we’re going to need to stay socially distant this winter, with parties, vacations and even stopping by a friend’s place on the “no go” list.


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That’s why we’ve put together a list of ten books that are best suited to read in the winter season. Because isn’t curling up with a great book one of the great joys of winter?

what to read in the winter season
Our top picks for what to read in the winter season; excellent wintry reads.

Our list has holiday reads, snowy reads, and sparkly reads that capture some of winter’s magic. There’s a book here for every kind of reader, so no matter your taste, you will have plenty to keep you occupied through those cozy winter days and nights. 

The best books to curl up with that are set in winter.
The best books to curl up with that are set in winter; our favorite wintry reads. Courtesy Photos.

What are the best holiday and wintry books this season?

1. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 

If you’ve recently spent any time on Netflix, perhaps you’ve seen the autoplay for the adorable new show, Dash and Lily. Well, it was once a book – and the book is every bit as charming as the series. Hoping to find true love, Lily hides a notebook of “dares” in her favorite bookstore and waits for the right person to find it.  And that person just happens to be Dash

The two of them trade the notebook back and forth, completely each other’s challenges, until the stars align for them to meet in person. If you love whimsical coming of age stories, you can’t do better than Dash and Lily. And as a bonus, it fulfills the classic role of a Christmas-in-New-York novel 


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2. Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson 

If you’ve decided that the fluff and comfort of a young adult holiday romance is exactly what you need, here’s a second book to add to your to-be-read pile. 

Let it Snow is the perfect light reading: an anthology of loosely connected short stories, each of which is a romantic mini-adventure. If to you the perfect holiday story is all about what happens when a crazy snowstorm causes paths to cross unexpectedly – this is the book for you.   

3. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory 

Maybe you have romance on your mind, but you’re looking for something a little more adult. Well, why not pick up Royal Holiday, the seasonal installment from the legendary Wedding Date series? Nobody writes romance like Jasmine Guillory, and here she’s concocted a holiday love story that checks all our boxes

When Vivian Forest joins her daughter on a business trip to England, little does she know that she’s going to fall for someone  and that that someone is going to be the Queen’s own secretary! We all need to live vicariously through something right now, so why not choose a royal fairytale?  

The best books to read set in the winter snow season. Courtesy Photos.

4. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette by Hampton Sides  

Maybe you’re not looking for a warm and fuzzy read. Maybe instead you want something that is long and dense – and even a little bit harrowing And what could be more seasonal than the true story of a voyage to the North Pole

In the Kingdom of Ice, follow along as the Captain and crew of the USS Jeanette find themselves with a sinking ship, having to trek across a landscape of endless ice. If winter to you means stories of snow – and survival – then this book will be your new best friend.  


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5. Trapped by Michael Northrop 

Stories about snowstorms wreaking havoc might be our favorite winter subgenre. And though some of you may feel totally over stories about people who are stuck places – too relatable – some of you might find you want to read nothing else.  

Trapped is the story of seven kids who get stranded at their high school in the midst of an insurmountable blizzard. Read it for what might be the highest-stakes snow day story of all time.  

6. A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire  

Gregory Maguire specializes in imbuing old tales with new wonder, and his 2020 release, A Wild Winter Swan, is no different – a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans, set in 1960’s New York. Teenage Laura is miserable, getting into trouble wherever she goes.

But her life is forever changed when an injured swan boy lands on her roof one winter evening. For those who love a good dose of wintry magical realism, mixed with a classic tale, this one’s for you.  

The best wintry reads to curl up with this winter.
The best wintry reads to curl up with this winter. Courtesy Photos.

7. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami  

Norwegian Wood is perhaps the most accessible book from the elusive Murakami. However, though it is in many ways a coming of age story – two college students in love, united by the death of their mutual friend – it is still stamped with all of the wonderful weirdness of a Murakami novel.

The descriptions of winter particularly encapsulate what is so special about his writing, and set the mood for a dark and melancholy ride. 


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8. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern 

Something about the season of winter seems to shorten the distance between the mundane and the magical. Well, The Starless Sea takes full advantage of that blurred borderSet in part in a mysterious labyrinth full of books, and in part inside the books that live there, this puzzle of a novel begins during a frozen January. 

If you love winter for being that special place where the cozy can comingle with the enchanted, then you will want this epic saga to sweep you away.  

9. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid 

There’s something about winter that has us wanting to read a really great, really absorbing novel. If we have to stay inside (and with COVID and the cold weather, we have double the reason), then we want to make sure we’re picking up a book that won’t disappoint us. And if it gives us a chance to finish off one of 2020’s best releases before the new year, then all the better.

The biting Such a Fun Age hits all these notes, and more: a book about race and class and the dynamic between two young women in Philadelphia. One of the pivotal scenes just so happens to take place at Thanksgiving dinner, making this the perfect place to kick off your winter reading.   

What to read and the best books to curl up with in winter.
What to read and the best books to curl up with in winter; our favorite wintry reads. Courtesy photos.

10. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel 

Like Such a Fun Age, The Glass Hotel is a 2020 release that you’ll find impossible to put down, making it a perfect choice to close out the yearIt’s a book about a Ponzi scheme, a woman named Vincent, and a glass hotel at the edge of the world.

In addition to a scene set during New Year’s Eve, the book has the same sense of ethereal gloom that we sometimes associate with the darkest seasonYou’ll get so lost in the pages, you won’t even notice the sun has set.   

What are the best books set in winter?

That’s our top 10 list of wintry reads – our favorite books to curl up with once winter officially arrives. What’s on your list? No matter what you decide to read this winter, we wish you a safe and healthy season, dear reader.

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema. Which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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