As the temperature drops and snow starts to fall, there’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book to escape into a world of warmth and comfort. Cozy winter books have a magical ability to transport readers to enchanting settings, filled with crackling fireplaces, steaming mugs of hot cocoa, and heartwarming characters.
Whether you’re looking for charming romances set in snowy small towns or thrilling mysteries that keep you on the edge of your seat, these must-read cozy winter books are sure to ignite your imagination and make this winter season truly unforgettable.
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The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a captivating and enchanting novel that takes readers on a journey into the Alaskan wilderness. Because of its wintry setting, magical elements, and theme of love and loss, The Snow Child is one of the best books for winter.
“Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart — he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone — but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.”
Continuing our theme of books set in Alaska, The Great Alone tells the story of a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.
“Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.
In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.”
Rosamunde Pilcher’s novel Winter Solstace shows the strange rippling effects of a tragedy that will brings the characters together in a large, neglected estate house near the Scottish fishing town of Creagan. The isolated town with ensemble cast of characters looking to each overcome their own personal troubles is the perfect recipe for cozy winter books to read.
“Elfrida Phipps, once of London’s stage, moved to the English village of Dibton in hopes of making a new life for herself. Gradually she settled into the comfortable familiarity of village life―shopkeepers knowing her tastes, neighbors calling her by name―still she finds herself lonely.
Oscar Blundell gave up his life as a musician in order to marry Gloria. They have a beautiful daughter, Francesca, and it is only because of their little girl that Oscar views his sacrificed career as worthwhile.
Carrie returns from Austria at the end of an ill-fated affair with a married man to find her mother and sister sharing a home and squabbling endlessly. With Christmas approaching, Carrie agrees to look after her sister’s awkward and quiet teenage daughter, Lucy, so that her mother might enjoy a romantic fling in America.
Sam Howard is trying to pull his life back together after his wife has left him for another. He is without home and without roots, all he has is his job. Business takes him to northern Scotland, where he falls in love with the lush, craggy landscape and set his sights on a house.”
Read Also: Edinburgh Literary Travel Guide
Agatha Christie, renowned as the “Queen of Crime,” has captivated readers for decades with her ingenious detective novels. Among her most iconic works is “Murder on the Orient Express” which is one of the most perfect cozy murder mystery books set in winter. Published in 1934, this masterpiece takes readers on a suspenseful journey aboard the luxurious Orient Express train as the famous Hercule Poirot attempts to solve yet another mystery.
“Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.”
Donna Tartt’s The Secret History actually made my list of cozy books for fall but I just had to include it on this list as well. With its gripping narrative, complex characters, and exploration of themes like morality, guilt, and obsession, The Secret History has become an instant classic in contemporary literature.
“Under the influence of a charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at a New England college discover a way of thought and life a world away from their banal contemporaries. But their search for the transcendent leads them down a dangerous path, beyond human constructs of morality. The New England college setting is so cozy and warm, it almost reminds you of Gilmore Girls.”
Read More: Best Cozy Books to Read in Fall
Published in 1950, it is the first book in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series and has captivated readers of all ages for decades. The magical setting combined with the snowy, wintry atmosphere puts this towards the top of the list of the best classic winter books that give cozy vibes to escape your day-to-day.
“Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone read, but if you would like to explore more of the Narnian realm, pick up The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.”
The Hunting Party is a thrilling and suspenseful novel written by Lucy Foley that takes place in the remote Scottish Highlands. Foley skillfully weaves together multiple perspectives and timelines to create an intriguing narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Each chapter offers insights into the thoughts and motivations of different characters, painting a complex picture of their relationships and hidden secrets. For those looking for one of the best winter books, look no further.
“During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage says. But how close is too close?”
Truly one of the best Christmas books, Last Christmas in Paris is a heartwarming historical fiction set against the backdrop of World War I.
“August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.
But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…
Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business.
Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…”
Read More: Bookish Holidays and Literary Traditions
Another historical novel set in Wartime Paris, this time WWII, All The Light We Cannot See, takes readers on an emotional and captivating journey with beautifully crafted prose and intricate storytelling. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide and is truly one of the best non christmas winter books (or just books) of all time.
“Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the Resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.”
Considered a literary masterpiece, “Jane Eyre” written by Charlotte Brontë is a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers around the world. This novel not only showcases Brontë’s exceptional storytelling skills but also challenges societal norms, addresses themes of love and identity, and presents a strong female protagonist ahead of her time. Whether you’re looking for a new winter themed books for book club or just want to get into more literary classics, don’t overlook Jane Eyre.
“A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman’s quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall.
But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?”
Read More: Books to Read Before Visiting the U.K.
The Wonder, written by Emma Donoghue, is a compelling historical novel that takes readers on a journey to 19th-century Ireland. Inspired by true events, this gripping story explores themes of faith, doubt, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Set in the mid-1800s during the aftermath of the Great Famine, The Wonder follows the life of Lib Wright, an English nurse who is hired to observe and monitor an eleven-year-old girl named Anna O’Donnell. What makes Anna’s situation peculiar is that she claims to have not eaten anything for four months and yet remains alive and seemingly healthy.
As Lib delves deeper into her investigation, she becomes increasingly puzzled by Anna’s survival without food. Is it possible that Anna possesses some extraordinary power or is there something more sinister at play?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a critically acclaimed debut novel by Gail Honeyman that takes readers on an emotional and thought-provoking journey. Published in 2017, the book quickly became a bestseller and has captured the hearts of readers around the world. If looking for cozy winter books, adults or young adults will love this beautifully written novel.
“Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes…”
Written by the acclaimed American author, Ann Patchett, Run tells the story of a contemporary Boston family and explores themes of family, identity, and the complexities of human connections. One of the great fiction winter books, I would definitely recommend Run.
“Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving possessive and ambitions father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see is sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children–all his children–safe.
Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic Priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you’ve never even met.
As an in her bestselling novel, Bel Canto, Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one surprising and endlessly moving narrative. Suspenseful and stunningly executed, Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.”
Read More: Books to Read Before Visiting the U.S.
The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman is a heartwarming and enchanting novel that takes readers on a journey through love, forgiveness, and the power of second chances. With its beautifully descriptive writing style and emotionally resonant storyline, it captivates readers from start to finish. If you’re looking for books about winter, The Secret of Snow perfectly uses the winter season as a backdrop for mystery and self exploration.
“When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.
Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.
To distract herself from the memories she’s spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home.”
Snow Country is a novel written by Yasunari Kawabata, a celebrated Japanese author and Nobel laureate. Set in the snowy region of Yuzawa, the story explores themes of love, loneliness, and cultural dynamics. Kawabata’s lyrical prose captures the serene beauty and isolation that comes with snow-covered mountains and expansive fields. For those that love winter books, romance, and beautiful lyrical prose, Snow Country is a must-read.
“At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages—a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.”
Read More: What To Do in Japan in Winter
Philip Pullman is a renowned British author known for his captivating storytelling and imaginative worlds. One of his most famous works, the His Dark Materials trilogy, takes readers on a thrilling journey through parallel universes and introduces them to fascinating characters. In this trilogy, Pullman explores complex themes such as religion, morality, and the power of human connection. For one of the best winter books for young adults, or adults themselves, Northern Lights is a must-read.
The first novel of the series, Northern Lights, or the Golden Compass in the U.S. version, is set in a parallel universe where every human has a daemon — an animal companion that reflects their inner self — Pullman weaves together elements of adventure, mystery, and philosophy to create a captivating story. The protagonist of The Golden Compass is Lyra Belacqua, an orphan girl living at Jordan College in Oxford.
Lyra’s life takes an unexpected turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious substance called Dust and becomes involved in a dangerous quest to uncover its secrets. Along the way, she encounters various characters including armored polar bears (known as panserbjørne), witches, and even angels.
“Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.
Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.
But what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other…”
The Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle is a literary masterpiece that has captivated readers for decades. Sherlock Holmes, with his sharp intellect, keen observation skills, and unmatched deductive reasoning abilities, has become an iconic figure in literature.
This collection of detective stories featuring the brilliant and enigmatic Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion Dr. John Watson is considered one of the greatest crime fiction works ever written.
Spanning four novels and fifty-six short stories, this collection showcases the remarkable talent of Arthur Conan Doyle in creating intricate mysteries, clever plot twists, and unforgettable characters. From “A Study in Scarlet” to “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place,” each story takes readers on a thrilling journey through Victorian London’s dark underbelly.
Read More: London Literary Travel Guide
The Bear and the Nightingale,” a captivating debut novel by Katherine Arden, weaves together Russian folklore, enchanting landscapes, and a brave young heroine’s journey. Set in medieval Russia, this mystical tale takes readers on an unforgettable adventure filled with magic, mythical creatures, and a battle between old traditions and new beliefs.
“Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.
Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.
But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.”
I don’t think any Christmas book list would be complete without the Harry Potter series. For me personally, Harry Potter is a must-read (or watch) any time of year, but there’s something particularly special about reading these books during Christmastime.
While it’s not necessarily a Christmas or winter book, many of the books have a special affinity for the holiday season with mentions of Christmas festivities both at Hogwarts and away and make special note of the cozy atmosphere surrounding Hogwarts in the snow. My favorite novels for the Christmas vibes are The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Goblet of Fire, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Order of the Phoenix, but virtually any book would be perfect to read (or reread) this time of year.
For those that don’t know the plot: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were.
But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.
Read More: Complete List of Harry Potter Guides
Tove Jansson’s A Winter Book is a collection of short stories and novellas that will transport you to the enchanting world of Moominvalley, where winter adventures await. If you’re unfamiliar with Moominvalley, it’s the fictional location where the Moomin’s live. Much like Disney in the US (and much of the world), Moomin’s are beloved in Finland and their creator Tove Jansson creates captivating stories that are for adults just as much as kids.
The Winter Book is Jansson’s first book for adults and features features 13 stories including The Sculptor’s Daughter. This series is the perfect cozy winter book that is exactly what you need on chilly evenings curled up on the couch.
Read More: Books to Read Before Visiting Finland
What I Looked for in Cozy Winter Books
The winter months are the perfect time to curl up in your favorite reading space with a cozy book. But what exactly makes a book cozy for the winter season? Here are some criteria I looked at when selecting our list of best winter reads:
1. Atmospheric Setting: A cozy winter book should transport you to a wintery landscape, whether it’s a quaint snowy village or a remote cabin in the woods. The setting plays an essential role in creating that warm and snug feeling. However, if the setting wasn’t exactly snowy, but the feeling of the overall novel had the same cozy atmosphere I included it anyway.
2. Engaging Characters: Like with any novel, the characters in a cozy winter book should be relatable and well-developed, drawing you into their lives and making you feel like you’re part of their story. When I look for characters for cozy wintry books, I want them to face challenges, overcome obstacles, but, at the end of the day (or the novel) I want there to be a heartwarming journey that leaves me feeling cozy and warm rather than cold and empty.
3. Heartwarming Themes: Cozy winter books often revolve around themes such as love, friendship, family, forgiveness, or self-discovery. Just as I said above, these themes can evoke strong emotions while still providing a sense of comfort and hope and are essential at this time of year.
4. Slow-Paced Plot: Unlike fast-paced thrillers or action-packed adventures, cozy winter books tend to have a slower pace that allows readers to savor every detail without rushing through the story. A leisurely plotline encourages relaxation and immersion in the narrative. While not every book on our list would be considered exactly slow-paced, they’re definitely on the slower side to help evoke the cozy vibes.
5. Winter Activities: Books set during the winter season often include descriptions of traditional activities like ice skating, building snowmen, drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace, or simply enjoying peaceful walks in snowy landscapes. These elements create an authentic wintry ambiance. I tried to include plenty of books with winter activities to help get you in the winter reading mood.
Read More: Must-Have Bookish Winter Essentials
Cozy winter books offer a wonderful escape from the cold and dreary weather outside. Whether you prefer a heartwarming romance, a thrilling mystery, or captivating historical fiction, there is a cozy winter read out there for everyone. These books not only provide entertainment and comfort but also remind us of the simple joys of life – curling up by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa and getting lost in the pages of a good story.
So this winter season, make sure to pick up one (or several) of these must-read cozy winter books and let them transport you to magical worlds filled with warmth, love, and endless possibilities.
Are there any books I need to add to my list? Let me know so I can scope them out!
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**All Book descriptions come from Goodreads
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