What to read this winter

The Snowman

It’s time to pull on the slippers, sip on a hot chocolate and channel your inner hygge as we give you our perfect winter reads.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic.

Why is it perfect for winter?

A snowgirl comes to life! What’s more winter than that? If you’ve out grown Frozen (who over the age of 6 hasn’t?) but still like your mystical magical fairy tales, then this one is for you

Snow Child

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

In 1968, in a remote part of Canada, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people share the secret – the baby’s parents and a trusted neighbour. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to go through surgery and raise the child as a boy named Wayne.

But as Wayne grows up within the hyper-male hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self – a girl he thinks of as ‘Annabel’ – is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. As Wayne approaches adulthood, and its emotional and physical demands, the woman inside him begins to cry out. The changes that follow are momentous not just for him, but for the three adults that have guarded his secret.

Why is it perfect for winter?

Not only is it written by someone called Winter it’s set in the harsh winter climate of Labrador Canada. It’s an original novel that has stayed with me years after first reading it. I also recommend it as a great book club book.

Annabel

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

He saw the soft cedars of San Piedro Island, its high, rolling hills, the low mist that lay in long streamers against its beaches, the whitecaps riffling its shoreline. The moon had risen already behind the island – a quarter moon, pale and indefinite, as ethereal and translucent as the wisps of cloud that travelled the skies.

A fisherman is found dead in the net of his boat off the coast of a North American island. When a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man’s guilt. For on San Piedro, memories grow as thickly as cedar trees – memories of a charmed romance between a white boy and a Japanese girl.

Above all, the island is haunted by what happened to its Japanese residents during the Second World War, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched.

Why is it perfect for winter?

Another one with an atmospheric winter setting. It’s also a haunting whodunnit about prejudice and forgiveness.

Snow Falling on Cedars

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Soon the first snow will come

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Outside, he sees her favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again

Detective Harry Hole soon discovers that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

And when the snow is gone…

When a second woman disappears, Harry’s worst suspicion is confirmed: a serial killer is operating on his home turf.

…he will have taken someone else

Why is it perfect for winter?

This isn’t the first in the Harry Hole series (it’s number 7 acutally) but The Snowman is perhaps the most famous. Darker than most scandi noir, whatever you do don’t enter this thinking Olaf or Raymond Briggs.

The Snowman

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.

Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

Why is it perfect for winter?

Ok so there is no snow in this one but as the nights draw in you want a book you can curl up with and this is just the ticket. Count Rostov is one of our favourite characters all year and what better time to meet him than when sipping hot chocolate and wearing fluffy socks.

A Gentleman In Moscow
A Gentleman In Moscow

Names for the Sea by Sarah Mosse

Sarah Moss had a childhood dream of moving to Iceland, sustained by a wild summer there when she was nineteen. In 2009, she saw an advertisement for a job at the University of Iceland and applied on a whim, despite having two young children and a comfortable life in Kent.

The resulting adventure was shaped by Iceland’s economic collapse, which halved the value of her salary, by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and by a collection of new friends, including a poet who saw the only bombs fall on Iceland in 1943, a woman who speaks to elves and a chef who guided Sarah’s family around the intricacies of Icelandic cuisine. Moss explored hillsides of boiling mud and volcanic craters and learned to drive like an Icelander on the unsurfaced roads that link remote farms and fishing villages in the far north. She watched the northern lights and the comings and goings of migratory birds, and as the weeks and months went by, she and her family learned new ways to live.

Why is it perfect for winter?

A non fiction offering that will leave you wanting to travel to Iceland. After all what better way to spend a winter night (other than reading) than planning your next holiday?

Names for the Sea

The one for children (and adults) – SheWolf by Dan Smith

A young Viking girl is swept by a storm on to a desolate English beach. Cruelly orphaned there, Ylva becomes set on revenge, tracking a killer through dangerous hinterland. She wants only the favour of the Norse gods and the comfort of her stories. But when a stranger decides to protect Ylva – seeming to understand her where others cannot – Ylva must decide if her own legend will end in vengeance or forgiveness.

What makes it perfect for winter?

A children’s book that had me gripped. It was emotional, it was local (author and setting) and gave great context to the Vikings. A perfect one to read with your child before bed.

She Wolf By Dan Smith
She Wolf

The anti winter book – The Lost Man by Jane Harper

He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects..

Why is it perfect for winter?

The Australian outback in the middle of a drought. You cant get much more anti winter than that. If the thought of dark nights send shivers down your spine (in a bad way) then sooth your frosted soul with this one. It’s a pretty damn good story as well!

The Lost Man
The Lost Man

We would love to know what books you love to curl up with over winter. So let us know in the comments below.