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We’re big fans of reading books that coordinate with the season. It’s getting chilly out, which means we’re ready for snowy books that take place in the winter.
We curated a list of the best winter book recommendations for 2023, including everything from the best winter books for a book club to lighter novels perfect for a relaxing reading session by the fireplace.
While you’ll find some winter mystery and thriller books on this list, we also have a full list of Winter Thrillers if that’s what you have in mind!
Now, grab your hot cocoa, and a warm, soft blanket, and get cozy with these winter novels!
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Best Winter Books
A Quiet Life
by Ethan Joella
Chuck finds himself at a loss months after the death of his wife, Cat. How can he pack for their annual trip to Hilton Head alone? And what should he do with her favorite towel and her sketchbooks?
Elle delivers newspapers in the morning and works in a bridal shop in the afternoon, but her mind isn’t on either job as she awaits news about her missing daughter.
Kirsten had big plans for veterinary school, but after the sudden death of her father, she finds herself at a new crossroads.
This moving novel is told in three parallel narratives, which overlap in unexpected ways. All three characters are experiencing different grief, but pressing onward in life. Despite the main theme of grief, the book is described as being infused with hope and celebrating humanity.
To the Bright Edge of the World
by Eowyn Ivey
It’s 1885 and newly married Colonel Allen Forrester has received the commission of a lifetime. He is being sent to lead a small group of men to navigate Alaska’s Wolverine River. Finding a way to pass the river is the key to opening Alaska to the outside world, but previous attempts have been fatal.
Sophie is pregnant and not excited about being relegated to a year in the military barracks away from her husband while he attempts the impossible. She’s worried about her pregnancy and what will happen while apart from Allen.
The Book Girls Say…Melissa loved this author’s descriptions of Alaska in The Snow Child, so she can't wait to pick up this 2016 Goodreads Nominee for Best Historical Fiction. Like The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey weaves a thread of magical realism throughout this epistolary novel.
This book is also included on our Books Set in the 1880s/1890s list for anyone participating in our Decades Reading Challenge! It would also be a good fit for the Arctic if you’re participating in the Book Voyage Challenge.
A Week in Winter
by Maeve Binchy
Beloved Irish author Maeve Binchy is known for her warm-hearted books that make you feel like you know the characters and have been transported to Ireland. A Week in Winter is her last novel. In it, she takes us to the Western Irish coast, where the main character has decided to take over a castle and turn it into a guest house for those on holiday.
In the first half of this book, you'll be beside Chicky as she tries to transform the cold castle into an inviting vacation spot. Once she is open for business, each chapter follows a different, often eccentric, guest through Chicky's first week in business.
Once Upon a Wardrobe
by Patti Callahan
Set in 1950 England, promising physics student Megs is attending Oxford and prefers facts to creativity. However, her beloved but critically ill, 8-year-old brother is obsessed with a world created in a book - The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. When he asks her to find out where Narnia came from, she can't refuse his plea.
When she tracks down the Lewis brothers, who are also at Oxford, they graciously invite her for tea. While they fill her with stories she can pass along to her brother, she doesn't understand why he won't answer her most important question about the origin of Narnia.
The Book Girls Say...This 2021 new release novel has been getting rave reviews and we can't wait to pick it up! While there are sad moments, the book is also described as filled with hope and warmth. Just what we all need on a cold winter night!
The Tourist Attraction
by Sarah Morgenthaler
Snowy Alaska makes the perfect setting for a cozy winter rom-com read!
Zoey has been dreaming of visiting Alaska for as long as she can remember! She’s invested her life savings in a two-week trip to Moose Springs, and she’s planned out every detail. What she didn’t plan on was Graham.
If there is one thing that Graham can’t stand, it’s the tourists crowding his hometown, and worse yet, his diner. He dishes up intentionally poor customer service to try to keep them away, but instead, his grumpiness has become a local tourist attraction. He never expected to fall for a dreaded tourist.
The Book Girls Say… Romantic comedy fans will fall for this quirky cast of characters (human and moose alike) in this quaint Alaskan town! Fortunately, you’ll be able to revisit them with two more books in the Moose Springs series, Mistletoe and Mr. Right and Enjoy the View.
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone
by Benjamin Stevenson
This clue-style locked room mystery takes place during a family reunion at a ski resort. But this isn’t your ordinary family. As the title says, everyone in the family has killed someone and this reunion is an attempt at meaning fences between family members.
From siblings, spouses, parents, and even aunts and uncles, everyone is a capable suspect when a murder occurs while they are snowed into the resort. The narrator is family-member Ern, who is investigating the crime despite his own questionable past.
Reviewers say you have to pay close attention to this Golden Age mystery filled with dark humor as you’ll encounter many twists and turns as you try to play armchair detective alongside Ern.
The Book Girls Say… If you enjoy locked-room mysteries, we have a whole list of recommendations for you here.
The Magnolia Palace
by Fiona Davis
Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists' models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing famous landmarks throughout the city - from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. After losing her mother to the Spanish Flu outbreak, however, Lillian feels lost in the world.
Her work has mostly dried up, so Lillian is eager to accept an unexpected job as a personal secretary at the Frick mansion—a building with a sculpture of her face on the exterior. Working closely with Helen Frick, daughter of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, pulls Lillian into a privileged world. It's a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that might prove to be life or death.
Five decades later, in the 1960s, Veronica, an English model, is working in the former Frick residence, which has since been converted into one of New York City's most impressive museums. After being dismissed from a Vogue shoot, she finds herself snowed into the mansion. When she and a young art curator stumble upon a series of hidden messages in the museum, they might discover the truth behind a decades-old murder.
The Final Hunt
by Audrey J. Cole
When Cameron's husband, John, disappeared while hunting off-grid in the wilderness, the assumption was that he was killed in a bear attack. However, after finding out her husband was hiding his involvement in a string of serial murders in Seattle, Cameron worries that he's not really dead.
With her reputation and finances destroyed by the media, Cameron sets off to Alaska to hunt for the truth.
The Book Girls Say…Readers enjoy this psychological thriller's quick pace and unique snowy Alaskan setting.
If you love snowy thrillers, check out our entire list of highly-rated thrillers set in winter!
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 11/10/22.
Eight Perfect Hours
by Lia Louis
British thirty-something Noelle is on her way home from a college alumni event when a blizzard closes the roads. Stranded in her car alone, with nothing to eat and no phone charger, she realizes she might be in trouble. But then a handsome American who was trapped in a nearby car taps on her window, offering assistance. The two spend the next 8 hours together waiting for the roads to reopen - eight perfect hours!
Once the roads are finally cleared, the two are certain that they’ll never see each other again. Fate seems to have different plans, though, because they keep serendipitously bumping into each other. They’re starting to think that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.
This snowy and heartwarming rom-com is described as perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary (The Flatshare) and Josie Silver (One Day in December).
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Lina is a typical 15-year-old Lithuanian girl who loves painting, drawing, and boys. But one night in 1941, Soviet officers burst into her home, tearing her family away from their comfortable life. She and her mother and brother are forced onto a train with no idea where they are headed.
Under Stalin's orders, they are forced into a work camp under the cruelest, and coldest, conditions. But Lina finds comfort in her drawings. She depicts the scenes she witnesses on a daily basis in hopes that they'll provide proof of all they are forced to endure.
The Book Girls Say...This book was commonly read during Eastern European month on the Book Voyage Challenge, with 97% of those who choose it saying they would recommend it to a friend. It's technically YA, but deals with the bleak realities of a Gulag and a different side of WW2. You will absolutely feel the cold snow as you read.
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
When a Vietnam POW returns home, he carries new anger and impulsively. Determined to stand by her husband, his wife agrees with his plan to move his family to Alaska to live off the grid. Soon after arriving, the harsh reality of rural Alaska sets in for 13-year-old Leni and her mom. For a while, things are better with her dad as they prepare for their first Alaskan winter, but she fears his more balanced self is only temporary.
The Book Girls Say... This book provides an intimate look at life for families who live in extreme environments and have to be very intentional with preparations to survive long winters. It was a five-star read for both of us! We also have it on our list of books for fans of Where the Crawdad Sings.
WARNING: This book includes descriptions of domestic abuse.
by Kitty Johnson
This story is a glimpse into Beth’s life over five consecutive winters. She grew up as an extra member of her best friend’s family after losing her own family. Along the way, she fell in love with her friend’s older brother, Mark. However, during Mark’s wedding, Beth realizes she needs to stop dreaming about a life with Mark and take control of her destiny.
Beth is 35 during the first portion of the book, and she hopes to be a mother. The book follows the unexpected twists and turns in her life as she set out to make that wish come true.
The Book Girls Say… This wintery book also includes some Christmas scenes, so skip it if you prefer to avoid that this time of year.
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 1/3/23.
Five Tuesdays in Winter
by Lily King
This collection of ten short stories is perfect when you're extra busy. You can pick it up when you only have a short amount of time and quickly be enveloped by new characters each time you read. Throughout the book, you'll encounter all different stages of life, love, and loss. It's perfect for those who love character-driven books like the author's last release, Writers and Lovers.
by Fredrik Backman
In the tiny community of Beartown, set deep in the snowy Swedish forest, life revolves around hockey. It provides entertainment and the hope for a better future. When a shocking event occurs, the people of Beartown quickly take sides. Who will stand up for the truth and put hockey above humanity?
Once your've been introduced to the residents of Beartown, you'll want to continue the trilogy with Us Against You and The Winners.
The Book Girls Say... All three books in the series were 5-star reads for us! Some will say you have to like hockey to like these book, but they're really not about hockey - they're about people. Fredrick Backman has a gift with words and melodic phrasing, along with a phenomenal insight into the motivations of people. He writes characters that are so well-rounded that even when you don't agree with their decisions, you will still understand what they were thinking.
Winter in Paradise
by Elin Hilderbrand
Do you need an escape from the frigid temps without leaving the season? Head to the Caribbean with Irene as she heads to St. John to figure out what happened to her husband. Unfortunately, she discovers much more than she expected - including his entire double life.
The Book Girls Say: This is book #1 in 3 book series, which means it ends without a fully satisfying ending and you'll have to keep reading. All three have been released, so you won't have to wait for publishing, but we wanted to make sure you knew what you were in for!
The Children's Blizzard
Based on a real event and oral history from the survivors, The Children's Blizzard takes us to the 1888 Great Plains. Just before school was let out for the day, an unexpected and extreme blizzard overtook the Dakota Territory. That morning, it had been warm enough that most went to school without their coats.
Schoolteachers, often as young as 16, had the children's lives in their hands and were forced to make life-altering decisions. Two of the teachers, sisters, Raina and Gerda, came out of the storm with very different outcomes. One was a hero and one was ostracized. The book tells their stories, along with the story of a young servant girl and her miraculous survival.
The Ocean in Winter
By Elizabeth de VeerIn coastal Massachusetts, a March storm is raging. Alex is alone in a farmhouse, with no electricity, when there is a knock on her door. She’s shocked to find her estranged younger sister, Riley, outside. But how did she find Alex, and how did she make it through the impassable roads? And why did she disappear back into the night as mysteriously as she arrived?
Decades earlier, the sisters had a traumatic childhood, with Alex taking over the mother role of both Riley and Colleen at the young age of 11 after her mother’s suicide. Now each sister has their own struggles, but Alex and Colleen are determined to find Riley and reconcile their past.
The Book Girls Say…This book is very character-driven, meaning it’s a slower read without a page-turning plot. However, for those who love character-driven reads, we think you’ll enjoy reading this family drama, which is told from all three sister’s points of view.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
Much different than our other selections on the list, Wintering is a non-fiction memoir and mental health book. It focuses not only on the author's experience but how we can all learn from it. She focuses on how we can better care for ourselves when unforeseen circumstances arise, which follows nature's example of rest and temporary retreat.
The Book Girls Say...While most enjoy the messages in the book, it's worth noting that some of her personal examples of how she found rest and retreat involved some travel and experiences that aren't possible for everyone. Reviewers say the author didn't seem fully self-aware of the costs and other factors that make impromptu travel impossible for most of the world. The root of the message is still valid, but keep in mind that if your unforeseen circumstances are financial, it might be a frustrating read.
by Kristin Hannah
This story opens in modern-day with two adult sisters, Meredith and Nina, who are as different as can be. But they remain connected by their beloved father and by the Russian fairy tale their cold, disapproving mother sometimes told them at night.
When their father falls ill, he makes the women promise that the fairy tale will be told one last time - all the way to the end. What unfolds is the true story of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad. The sisters are about to learn a secret that will change everything.
The Book Girls Say... Many WWII historical novels focus on the region of France and Germany, but The Winter Garden illuminates the experiences of those in Russia and left us with a much better understanding of the Eastern Front. But this is much more than just another WWII story, it's a very powerful and moving family story as well.
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 1/3/23.
by Rachael Lucus
If you’re looking for a light read, consider this cozy romance that will transport you right to winter in the Scottish Highlands. Rilla is not close to her father, but she still leaves her New England home to sort out his affairs in the little Scottish village of Applemore. Can the time at his cottage re-open her guarded heart?
Lachlan has been left a grand, but crumbling, estate and isn’t thrilled about it. He’s not sure why his sisters love it so much, and the battle over what to do with the house is sure to be intense. When old friend Rilla walks back into their life after 15 years away, the Highland winter begins to work its magic on everyone.
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 1/3/23.
The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden
Set in medieval times at the edge of the Russian arctic wilderness, this magical fantasy tale draws on the history of Russian fairytales.
Vasilisa spends the long, cold winter nights around the fire with her siblings, listing to her nurse's fairy tales, and her favorite is that of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. The nurse teaches them to honor the spirits of the house and yard and forest to protect their homes from evil.
When Vasilisa's mom dies, her husband remarries a woman from Moscow who forbids the children from honoring the household spirits. Soon signs of evil are all around - crops are failing, and misfortune strikes the village. Vasilisa must defy the people she loves and call on her hidden and dangerous gifts to protect her family from a threat as frightening as any in her nurse's fairytales.
The Book Girls Say... This book particularly appeals to those who enjoy the fantasy genre. Be sure to take note of the glossary at the back of the book, which will make the story much easier to follow.
The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey
In the Snow Child, you'll be transported to 1920s Alaska. Jack and Mabel are newcomers to the Alaska lifestyle, and it is a struggle for them. During the first snowfall of the year, they decide to have some fun and build a child out of snow.
In the morning, the snow child is gone, but they see a young girl, Faina, running through the trees. This Pulitzer Prize finalist explores Jack and Mabel's growing relationship with Faina and her past.
17+ Winter Thriller Books to Read in 2022
Looking for creepy books set in winter or thriller books set in the mountains? Our recommendations include more than 15 of the best thriller books set in winter.
Books Set in Antarctica and the Arctic
The last item isn't one individual book, but instead a link to a resource full of books that will chill you to the bone!
We have more book recommendations set in the Arctic or Antarctica, so they don't necessarily take place in winter, but they're definitely full of cold weather so have a very winter vibe. If you're looking for a charming read, How Veronica Saved the Penguins was a BGG reader favorite!
Did we include your favorite on our list of the best winter reads? Let us know if you have a recommendation we missed in the comments below!
17+ Winter Thriller Books to Read in 2022
Friday 10th of March 2023
[…] looking for thrillers but still want to read along with the seasons, we have another list of winter books to read in a wide range of […]
Tuesday 10th of January 2023
Wonderful group of reads, many of which I have read and enjoyed.
Books to Read for the New Year - Book Girls' Guide
Monday 10th of October 2022
[…] If you’re looking for a seasonal book without a holiday aspect, be sure to check out our great list of books to read in the winter! […]