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Best Books to Read in Winter 2024

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.

Three tilted books with winter themes

What Kind of Books are On This List?

We curated a list of the best winter book recommendations for 2024, 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!

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!

Best Winter Books to Read

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In The Snow Child, you’ll be transported to remote 1920s Alaska. Jack and Mabel are nearing 50 when they decide to move to Alaska. As newcomers to the harsh environment, it is a struggle for them. Between the intense physical labor required and the even more extreme loneliness, they’re not sure they’ve made the right decision with the move.

Then, 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 running through the trees with the items they had used to dress the snow child. Is she real, or are they hallucinating and dreaming of the child they’ve always wanted?

The Book Girls Say…

Melissa thought the fairytale-like qualities of this book were phenomenal in both the writing and the storytelling. The book also fully transports you to the isolation of an Alaskan homestead, making the harshness of the environment and the preparation required to survive very clear.

When Winter Comes Book

Book Summary

It’s 1846, and wagons are gathering outside of Cincinnati for the long trip to California. One of the riders is a fifteen-year-old desperate to escape her abusive family. She’s stolen a few dollars and signed on to be a helpmate for a couple with a young daughter.

As they travel west, the Donner Party makes a tragic decision to take a “shortcut” over the Sierras, hoping to cross before the first snow, instead of following the established path. This decision led to tragic consequences for everyone in the group.

Thirteen years later, Mrs. Klein must decide if she will keep her memories of the journey a secret, or risk the comfortable life she now has in California by sharing the truth.

The Book Girls Say…

This book alternates timelines between the journey west in 1846 and the main characters’ “present-day” life in 1863.

Five Winters book covers

Book Summary

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 sets out to make that wish come true.

The Book Girls Say…

This book also includes some Christmas scenes, so skip it if you prefer a winter read with no holiday mentions.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024
Magnolia Palace book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

98% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Lillian was one of the most sought-after artist 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 when she’s offered a job as a personal secretary at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian is eager to accept the opportunity. Working closely with Helen Frick, daughter of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, pulls Lillian into a privileged world and 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.

Frozen River book cover

Book Summary

In the late 1700s, women were expected to be seen and not heard. But, midwife Martha puts what is right over society’s expectations. When the Kennebec River freezes, a man is entombed in the ice. Martha is called to determine the cause of death.

Months earlier, the man had been accused of rape, and Martha believes he has now been murdered. But, the local physician disagrees and declares the death an accident.

Over the winter, Martha continues to investigate every angle as the trial approaches. The diary she uses to log every birth and death becomes a key component and soon implicates those she loves, leaving Martha with an impossible decision.

The Book Girls Say…

This GMA Book Club Pick and NPR Book of the Year is based on the real diary of midwife Martha Ballard, who defied the legal system.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The Best Winter Thriller Books

Eight Perfect Hours book cover

Book Summary

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.

The Book Girls Say…

This feel-good, easy read is full of chance encounters. Be ready to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the character’s good luck.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024
A WEEK IN WINTER book cover

Book Summary

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.

The Book Girls Say…

If you’re participating in our ICYMI Challenge, this would be a great bonus pick for January (Books Published in 2012).

Winterland Book Cover

Book Summary

This novel is set in Norilsk, the northernmost city of Siberia, where the brutal weather mirrors the sacrifices of young Russian gymnasts competing for their country. When Anya was 8, she was selected for the famed USSR gymnastics program. Her father is thrilled, but she can’t share the news with her mother, who disappeared years earlier.

Anya’s only confidant is her neighbor, Vera, an older woman who survived unspeakable horrors during her ten years in a Gulag camp. While Anya doesn’t know this, Vera was also her mom’s confidant and may be able to help solve the mystery of her disappearance.

The Book Girls Say…

The character of Elena is based on Elena based on the real gymnast Elena Mukhina, who was paralyzed performing a now-banned move (the Thomas Salto).

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

When a Vietnam POW returns home, he carries new anger and impulsiveness. 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 were better with her dad as they spent the fall season preparing for their first Alaskan winter, but she fears his more balanced self is only temporary.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is split between the fall spent preparing for winter and then the cold and brutal reality of an isolated Alaskan winter.

WARNING: This book includes descriptions of domestic abuse.

Ocean in Winter book cover

Book Summary

In 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. How did Riley 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.

Winter in Paradise book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Do you need an escape from the frigid temps without leaving the season? Head to the Caribbean with Irene. She received a shocking late-night phone call that her husband has been found dead on the island of St. John, far from their suburban life.

When she travels to St. John to figure out what happened to her husband, Irene discovers much more than she expected – including his entire double life.

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 Book Girls Say…

If you have Elin Hilderbrand’s books set in Nantucket as much as we do, consider heading to the Caribbean with her. She is a bit of a local celebrity on St. John. Within this story, she drops the names of many local business owners, bar dwellers, and locations that you may recognize if you’ve traveled to this US Virgin Island. Although, as she says in her author’s notes, some of these businesses did not survive Hurricane Irma.

A Quiet Life Book Cover

Book Summary

Chuck finds himself at a loss months after the death of his wife, Cat. How can he pack for their annual winter 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.

The Book Girls Say…

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.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024
Faux Beau book cover

Book Summary

When Milliy’s sister died, her wish was for Milly to start chasing happiness. This promise led her to accept a dare to kiss a stranger in a bar. Except the man picked doesn’t look like a stranger, he looks like Milly’s childhood crush. When the kiss turns into a one-night stand, Milly discovers that it isn’t Lucas after all. It was his notorious playboy twin brother, Jaxon.

This is far from Jaxon’s first one-night stand, and he has plans for his normal quick exit, but then Milly’s parents appear. Before he can escape, Milly introduces him as Lucas and says he is her boyfriend! He’s horrified but then realizes he could use this arrangement for his benefit as well. If Milly helps plan the snowboarding competition he is supposed to be arranging, he will pretend to be her boyfriend until her parents leave town.

The Book Girls Say…

This one is spicy, funny, and sweet with a fast-paced format.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The Best Fake Dating Books + Fake Relationship Books

Beartown Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

In the tiny community of Beartown, life revolves around hockey. It provides entertainment and hope for a better future. It’s a story about hockey, small-town life, and much more. When a shocking event occurs, the town quickly takes sides. Who will stand up for the truth and put hockey above humanity? The themes are definitely relevant to the decade.

If you’ve already read Beartown and the sequel Us Against You, this is a great excuse to pick up the final book in the Trilogy, The Winners, which was published in September 2022. It’s set two years after Beartown, so it still sneaks into the 2010s.

The Book Girls Say…

Fredrik Backman has a gift with words, melodic phrasing, and unparalleled insight into human motivations. He writes characters that are so well-rounded that even if you disagree with their decisions, you understand what they were thinking. We both gave this one all the stars!

Five Tuesdays in Winter book cover

Book Summary

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.

between shades of gray

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

97% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

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 sent to a work camp under the cruelest and coldest conditions. Just getting to the camp requires crossing the Arctic Circle But, somehow, Lina finds comfort in her drawings. She depicts the scenes she witnesses daily in hopes that they’ll provide proof of all they are forced to endure.

The Book Girls Say…

This YA novel deals with the very grim realities of a Gulag and will introduce you to a side of WII that you’ve probably learned little about. Some readers didn’t enjoy the audio version of this book as much as the printed version.

Book Summary

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 can revisit them with two more books in the Moose Springs series, Mistletoe and Mr. Right and Enjoy the View.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The Best Books About Alaska

Once Upon a Wardrobe book cover

Book Summary

Promising physics student Megs is attending Oxford in 1950 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…

While there are sad moments, this book is also described as filled with hope and warmth. Just what we all need on a cold winter night!

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

100% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

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.

Winter Cottage Book Cover

Book Summary

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.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024
The Bear and the Nightingale book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

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, listening 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, 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.

Book Cover for The Children's Blizzard showing two young children peering through a snowy window

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

96% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Based on an actual 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 Book Girls Say…

We had nearly 100 of our readers select this book for the Decades Reading Challenge earlier this year. Common themes among the reviews were how well-researched and descriptive this novel is and that it is heartbreaking yet hopeful.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Books Set in the 1880s and 1890s: The Gilded Age

winter garden book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

90% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Sisters Meredith and Nina have little in common other than their love for their dear father. They’ve spent most of their life feeling like they didn’t really know their mother, but when their father falls ill, his final wish is for his daughters to get to know their mother better. In their younger years, Anya sometimes tells the girls a Russian fairy tale, and their father makes her promise that she will tell the story one last time – all the way to the end.

The story alternates between past and present as Meredith and Nina hear the fairy tale and learn the harrowing story of the mother’s life five decades earlier in war-torn Leningrad, Russia. They will ultimately learn something so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

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 the Eastern Front. But this is more than just another WWII story, it’s a moving family story as well. It is a bit slow to start, and the characters aren’t immediately likable, but you’ll find yourself pulled in as the lines between fairy tale and reality begin to blur.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/02/2024
Winter in New York Book Cover

Book Summary

Iris, a young chef, grew up in London watching nostalgic movies set in New York with her mom while eating their special homemade gelato, a secret recipe. Now an adult, Iris didn’t fully grasp the scale of Manhattan before moving there to restart her life. She’s ready to hide away instead of exploring her new home, but her BFF Bobby drags her to a street fair in Little Italy instead. She’s surprised when she sees a little family-run gelateria that looks just like one in a photo her mom had.

She returns to the shop to find a handsome man, Gino, who shares that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle kept all the recipes secret, but he’s in a coma, and they haven’t been able to make any more. When Iris samples the last batch of vanilla gelato, she knows it’s her mother’s recipe. She volunteers to help Gino restore their business and finds that they have chemistry outside the kitchen as well. But when his uncle finally wakes up, everything she has built is at risk.

The Book Girls Say…

Readers say that fans of Katherine Center and Emily Henry may enjoy this holiday novel by the author of One Day in December and The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.

Join the Winter Books Mini Reading Challenge

Our free four-prompt mini-reading challenge is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading seasonally. Each prompt comes with a list of recommended books for you to choose from, making it a fun and easy way to enhance your winter reading.

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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