I don’t know about you – you might be one of those winter sports enthusiasts – but for me, winter is a time to hunker down and hibernate with a good book. If you’ve see any of my other reading lists before, you’ll know that while I read some generic books, I also really enjoy reading books that are seasonally appropriate.
There’s just something special about being snuggled up in front of the fireplace on a cold winter’s night while reading a story that takes place in winter too. So, you’ll find several winter-themed books on My Winter Reading List. Check out my picks for winter reading this year:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott –
The story of 4 teenage sisters and their mother living in poverty (having lost all of their money) while their father is away serving as a pastor in the US Civil War is a classic. Hence why it has been remade into yet another movie this year! It’s a tale of resilience and family that has stood the test of time. If you have never read this, or if it’s been a long time, I highly recommend picking it up once again.
Is it Just Me by Miranda Hart
You might be familiar with Miranda Hart from Call the Midwife (she played Chummy) or the movie Spy with Melissa McCarthy. I also know her from her sitcom Miranda, which I find is lesser known to most people outside the UK. My daughter introduced me to it and we used to stay up late watching it, waking up my son in law with our raucous laughter.
Is It Just Me sounds like just the hilarious break I need in the middle of what can be a long long winter. Her dry wit seems to make pretty much everything she does funny to me!
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder –
This, of course, is a classic. I’ve been reading it most winters for years now. Blizzards have caused treacherous conditions for the Ingalls and their neighbors. This is a story of hardship, hope, perseverance, and overcoming the odds as a community working together for the good of all. It’s heartwarming and enlightening to read about winter survival in days gone by.
A Single Thread: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier
You might know this already, but I’m a huge Tracy Chevalier fan. So, I have high hopes for this book which has been described as one of friendship, love, and independence.
It’s the 1930’s and Violet Speedwell has lost both her brother and fiance to the Great War. She is now relegated to a life of spinsterhood and taking care of her bitter, grieving mother. Violet chooses not to accept that fate and takes control of her future.
Not only does she gain independence, but she also finds support and community along the way.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Okay, so this is another that I am rereading. Rosamunde Pilcher is one of my favorite authors and I have read everything she has ever written. Along with The Shell Seekers, Winter Solstice is right at the top of the list. Her books are generally set in Scotland and part of the charm comes from her attention to detail.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest, it feels like writers are just droning on and on about every single little detail of the setting, but Pilcher sets the scene beautifully. Just enough description and just the right description to make you feel like you’re there. Or that you really want to be there.
This same type of attention to detail is found in her character development. In this case, she is telling the story of five very different people. One is an aging actress, one a retired musician. Add to that a woman coming out of an affair with a married man, an awkward teenager whose mother has run off to America for a romantic liaison, and finally, a man trying to put his life back together after his wife leaves him for someone else.
All of them, in their own ways, lonely and seeking more from life. They’re brought together in the northern Scottish fishing town of Creagan by a tragedy and they are forever changed.
In Pieces by Sally Field
I’ve recently been rewatching The Flying Nun, a childhood favorite. So, of course, this memoir caught my eye. In this book, Sally Field takes us behind the scenes for the highs and lows of her career and her personal life, including her complicated relationship with her mother. All in all, it becomes a story a strength, independence, and growth into the woman she is now.
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
I’ll admit that I’m not always a Binchy fan. Sometimes I find myself getting bored by the slow development of her plot and characters in a few of her books. But when Binchy does it well, she does it really well. In fact, she can sometimes remind me a bit of Rosamunde Pilcher.
I’ve heard really great things about this book and am really looking forward to seeing if it lives up to my expectations. It’s set in a country house hotel in western Ireland and is sure to contain the charm that comes along with such settings.
One of the things I’ve found with many of Maeve Binchy’s books is that despite the fact that her characters are often placed in difficult situations, in this case struggling with traumatic memories, regrets, and loneliness, she brings them through with compassion and kindness.
Her stories are heartwarming and inspiring. Her characters are the lovable sort you find yourself attached to and rooting for as the book goes on.
The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
We all need positive role models and the women highlighted in this book are just that. The Clintons share stories of these women and their strength, explaining the influence they have had on their own lives.
Inspirational and motivational, their goal in writing the book was to provide others with stories they can draw strength from. As Hillary Clinton said about the book, “This book is a continuation of a conversation Chelsea and I have been having since she was a little girl, and we are excited to welcome others into that conversation.”
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Two very different sisters come together when their beloved father becomes ill. Now, they’re faced with their always cold, disapproving mother who, as usual, provides them with no comfort. Add to that a deathbed request from their father and these women are faced with uncovering a secret so awful that it shakes them and their concept as family to the core.
This is a captivating love story spanning a 65-year period and taking the reader from war torn Leningrad to modern day Alaska. Hannah takes us through the complex layers of this family history in mesmerizing, haunting detail that will stick with you for a long time after.
Peace like a River by Leif Enger
Narrated by 11 year old Reuben, an asthmatic boy, who embarks on an adventure across the frozen Badlands of the Dakotas with his father and little sister. They are searching for Reuben’s older brother Davy who has been charged with the murder of two local people who have been terrorizing the family.
Romance, tragedy, spirituality, and the magic of everyday life are all found in this engaging story that is sure to become a classic.
Home by Julie Andrews
As a Julie Andrews fan, I’m really excited about this biography of her early life. The story of the journey people have taken to get to where they are now is always fascinating to me.
Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
Jamie Ford is another favorite author of mine. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is one of those books that has remained with me over time. I have high expectations for this story of 12 year old Ernest Young as well.
This book was inspired by the true story of a half-Chinese orphan boy whose life is changed athe 1909 World’s Fair in Seattle. As a charity student at a boarding school, he is incredibly excited to be gifted the experience of attending the World’s Fair. That changes when he realizes that the plan is to raffle him off “to a good home”.
The winner turns out to be a madam from a local brothel. She makes Ernest their new houseboy, who quickly becomes friends with Maisie (the madam’s daughter) and Fahn (a scullery maid). When their world of luxury begins to fall apart, the three deal with the challenges of hope, ambition, and first love.
As Ford often does, this story depicts two different time periods, moving forward to one fifty years later. It’s the time of Seattle’s second World Fair, and Ernest is now endeavoring to help his sickly wife cope with the regret of never becoming the person she wanted to be. At the same time, he is struggling to keep their family secrets from their adult daughters.
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Olivia Newton-John
Another childhood favorite of mine, I remember seeing her live in concert when I was about 13 years old. In this candid memoir, she takes the reader from her beginnings as a schoolgirl in Melbourne to international superstar and cancer survivor. I can’t wait to dig in!
A Mind of her Own by Paula McLain
McLain is another favorite author. I adored The Paris Wife (the story of Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley) and Love and Ruin (the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Martha Gellhorn). In this book, she takes on the subject of Marie Curie.
Set in Paris in 1893, Marie is 25 years old. She is far from her home in Poland, studying science at the Sorbonne, as it is one of the few universities in the world allowing women to attend. (That world alone has me intrigued. What a strong woman she must have been!)
Marie is convinced that she will spend her life alone – what man would walk this path with her? Then she meets Pierre Curie, a young and quite accomplished physicist. Her world changes as he begins not only to help her with her work, but to court her as well. A story of determination, hard work, independence, love, and success!
So, what are you reading this winter? Share your ideas in the comments below. I’m always looking for new reads!