Seven Must-Read Books This Season

Just add coffee

Even if you live in a generally warm climate, winter and the cooler temperatures it brings to most places has a way of making us want to hunker down – or escape the humdrum of our daily commute on the train – with a good book.

The best winter reads transport you to wintry lands, inspire heady thoughts and contain a little bit of magic.  This list (and we’ve thrown in a few recent releases) will put you in the right frame of mind to cherish the cold weather and maybe actually venture out for a winter walk (before the dreaded 4pm sunset). 

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Join Matthiessen on a five-week-long walk through the Himalayas. It’s a voyage through the extreme with a central focus on the act of seeking. In this case, it’s the ever-elusive snow leopard that is being sought. Read this one to relive the rigid trek and get lost in a quest that tests the ability to persevere as much as it asks us to question what kinds of snow leopards motivate or complicate our current lives. The best part is the feeling of being transported without leaving your house.

Japanese protagonist Tsukuru isn’t especially noticeable – a bit colorless, indeed. He isn’t bold and he doesn’t shine brightly. When his college friends all abandon him at once and in unison, he doesn’t find out why. He doesn’t even try to find out why, too possessed by his own mild manners and passivity. He embarks on a pilgrimage years after the rejection from his friends to uncover the truth of why they let him go abruptly. Read this one to get lost in the journey in Japan and the drama and to have a good think on relationships and reflections of ourselves.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

We’ve added this because it’s an enthralling read. When a newly minted teenage boy’s life is uprooted, he’s thrust into the upper class culture of the family that adopts him. His loss, his obsession with art, and his ability to reinvent himself amid his longing are themes that drive this page-turner. Read this one for the New York City scenes and social subtleties.

2am at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

It’s winter in Philadelphia – Christmastime, in fact – and this book follows a young girl, her teacher, and a jazz club owner through a performance-centered plot that unfolds over the span of 24 hours. Read this one not just for the blustery darkness of a winter night and the likeability of the characters, but also for the rekindling of a dream that just won’t die.

Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce

Humor, whimsy, and imagination tie the stories in this collection together. Your mind will bend to the pressing shapes and stories of recurring dreams and wooly mammoths. Read this one for a blizzard-like blurring of fact and fiction and a great companion to a warm drink.

Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

A powerful bow to a great and daunting expanse of a region, Frazier dissects every Russian detail with enamored obsession. This book will transport you to this faraway place with textured writing and an unbreakable narrative. Read this one for the potent escapism but also for a refreshing course in how to appreciate the moment.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

This autobiographical graphic novel that tells a story of the snowy childhood of Thompson in Wisconsin. Laws of attraction, faith, accountability, and commitment are all pulled into question here as readers get to pair drawings with the narrative – one that carries blankets as a motif throughout. Read this for the portrayal of the numbingly cold North Woods as well as for the coming of age tale (best read curled up in a warm blanket).

When you’re ready to brave the cold and embrace the fresh air, head out for a winter picnic. Sound crazy? We show you what to bring and what to wear.