Next to a snowy window is a brown sweater, a cup of tea and a pile of books on a wooden window sill in an old house; photo via Alena Ozerova/Canva.
Transatlantic Life

The Best Books For A Winter Reading List

There’s never a bad time to get into reading a new book; however, it always seems to feel particularly gratifying to get stuck into a literary adventure during the long, cold stretch of winter months — especially if some of the stories we’re exploring have winter-themed elements.

Finding a selection of new books to add to our reading list is always an enjoyable experience. Authors and storytellers create worlds and examine events we can immerse ourselves in; even more so when what’s included in the pages keep us enthralled, excited and/or inspired.

Reading is an incredible activity that opens us up to knowledge and adventure; sparking expressiveness, stimulating imagination and expanding our overall understanding of the world. It’s also a great way to relax and unwind, helping reduce stress levels and improve focus — which is why we should always find time to read something we connect to and enjoy.

A title graphic for a post available on Transatlantic Notes called, ‘The Best Books for a Winter Reading List’. The background image shows a brown sweater, a cup of tea and a pile of books on a wooden window sill in an old house.

If you’re looking for some incredible novels to read, I recommend following the Winter Wonderland Book Tag created by Christy and Claire from I’m All Booked Up. They’ve come up with some useful questions and prompts to encourage all book-lovers to think about and highlight different titles worth reading. Winnie from Her Digital Coffee nominated me to join in with this tag (thank you); so I’ve decided to share six of the best books to read this winter.

If you’re interested in taking part in this on your own site, make sure you:

  • Link back to the book tag creator in your post
  • Answer all of the questions/prompts
  • Tag other bloggers to join in or encourage others to participate

What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. | Anne Lamott

No matter how, when or where we like to read, there’s bound to be a title or two on this list that grabs any reader’s attention. All of the books I’ve included here are ones that sustained my interest and became stories I didn’t want to put down — everything here comes highly recommended.  

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

1. | Look out the window, it’s snowing! Find a book with snow on the cover.

While the version I have of this book does not specifically include a cover with snow on it; previous design iterations typically do because the story takes place in the depths of a European winter …

Genre: Adult Crime/Mystery Fiction

Published: William Morrow Paperbacks 2003 (originally published in 1934)

From the Blurb: Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratcher lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of the passengers must be 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.

Rating: 4/5

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

2. | The fire is roaring in the fireplace. Pick a cozy read to enjoy by the warmth of the fire.

The narrative of this book is anything but cozy, but it’s the fact that this story is dark, atmospheric and full of suspenseful twists and turns that makes it my pick for this category. You can dive into this evocative and intricate tale for the whole day, so get comfortable and settle in …

Genre: Adult Crime/Suspense Fiction

Published: Simon & Schuster 2021

From the Blurb: Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend. Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it … he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Rating: 4.5/5

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

3. | Winter is time for outdoor sports. Find a book that features a winter sport.

Okay, I will admit this is a bit of a stretch to link this book to one that features a winter sport (there’s a cursory mention of some snow sledding) but I had to find a way of including this heartwarming and enchanting tale …

Genre: Philosophy/Self-Help/Graphic Novel Fiction

Published: Mandala Publishing/Simon & Schuster 2021

From the Blurb: Two beloved friends, Big Panda and Tiny Dragon journey through the seasons of the year together. On their way into the wild they often find themselves lost, and while not knowing where they are, they discover many beautiful sights they’d never have found if they’d gone the right way. Together they explore the thoughts and emotions, hardships and happiness that connect us all. In nature they learn how to live in the moment, how to be at peace with uncertainty, and how to find the strength to overcome life’s obstacles, together.

Rating: 4/5

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

4. | Winter means the start of a new year. What is one book that was on your TBR list this year?

This book was on my radar for a while; the buzz around it hinted at it being a tough yet beautiful story of survival set in the harsh climate of a winter wilderness; an intimate look at the endurance of the human spirit. When I finally got around to reading it, it did not disappoint as it masterfully weaved together an unforgettable story of love, loss, frailty and resilience …

Genre: Historical/Romance/Adult Fiction

Published: St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan 2017

From the Blurb: Alaska, 1974. The Allbrights are a family in crisis. They are alone, living off the grid, in a harsh and unforgiving wilderness. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man and has made the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north to America’s last true frontier. Even though they have found a small, independent community of strong men and even stronger women, winter is approaching, darkness is descending, and Ernt’s fragile mental state is deteriorating. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to the threats from within.

Rating: 4/5

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

5. | But by going outside, you can find comfort in a warm beverage. What is your go-to comfort book that never fails to cheer you up?

This is a deep yet simple book that’s packed full of wisdom, encouragement and conversations between friends that provide insight into valuable life lessons. It’s a story that thoughtfully explores discussions around mental health with considerable insight and care …

Genre: Philosophy/Self-Help/Graphic Novel Fiction

Published: HarperOne/HarperCollins 2019

From the Website: Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book based on his famous quartet of characters. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse explores their unlikely friendship and the poignant, universal lessons they learn together.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Regrets Or Did Not Finish

On a window sill is a cream colored blanket, tree lights, a cup of coffee and an open book.
photo via Sixteen Miles Out/Unsplash

6. | If you’re not careful, winter weather fun can cause frostbite. Pick one book that was a major disappointment

There are many reasons why we may not complete reading a book or find it a hard slog to get through. Occasionally narratives can be too long, overly complicated or simply not engaging enough — or sometimes motivation wanes because life stuff gets in the way. Whatever the reason may be for experiencing reading regret, it’s reasonable to expect this will happen periodically for any book lover out there.

Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any books recently (or for quite a while) that I didn’t enjoy or struggled to finish; if this changes, I will update this post …  

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

On a wooden tray next to a cup of black coffee is the book Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.
photo via Molly/Transatlantic Notes

7. | Winter comes to an end and spring emerges. Name a book that you want to read before springtime.

Although I haven’t finished this book yet, it’s been an incredible read so far; a beautifully written and stunningly skillful loosely based reimagining of Snow White to explore the (often dark) complexities of motherhood, race and gender identity in the mid-20th century …

Genre: Contemporary/Fantasy/Adult Fiction

Published: Riverhead Books/Penguin 2014

From the Blurb: In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Rating: 4/5

Finding The Perfect Book To Read

Reading recommendations and reviews remain an effective way to discover captivating page turners and something new to enjoy. Hopefully the winter reading list suggestions included in this post have provided you with a few ideas about what title to pick up next!

If you enjoyed this tag, feel free to participate even if you aren’t nominated; I look forward to reading your answers! I’m tagging:

What’s on your winter reading list? Have you read any of the books listed here?

Further Info:

The Best—and Most Anticipated—Books of 2023 (So Far) – Vogue

35 of the Best (Independent) Bookstores in the USA – Book Riot

56 thoughts on “The Best Books For A Winter Reading List”

  1. As I read this post I realize just how many directions I can go for a winter read: I am about to embark on a “nordic noir”, which for those who don’t know is crime fiction from Sweden – and I read lots of non-fiction so a wild book called “Chefs, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll” is next up as well….


  2. Wonderful picks Molly and beautiful photos! I’m so happy you participated in this tag. I’ve been meaning to check out Agatha Christie, and Murder on the Orient Express is now on top of my list. Thank you for sharing and for all of the great recommendations!


  3. Thank you for this list. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything outside of blogs lol but I did start a collection of books I plan to read and finish by the end of the year.


  4. I have a few books to add to my list now! I love a good crime/mystery book, so some of these sound like they fit the bill perfectly.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Aimsy xoxo


  5. I love this selection of books! Some of these I’ve been wanting to read for a while, so I’ll definitely pick them up at some point. I’ve never read Murder on the Orient Express either, but I feel like it’s a classic that I must read at some point in my life 🙂


  6. Been trying to find some new books to read so this list is super helpful. You’ve also made me want to get my books out again as well and start reading some of the ones I haven’t even gotten around to reading yet.


  7. I enjoy reading It’s all booked up blog. They right such great reviews. I have personally been wanting to read some Agatha Christie, the movies and shows I usually enjoy watching.


  8. All these books sound absolutely great! I love the Panda and Dragon one, the illustration on the front is adorable. I HAVE GOT to read, Murder on the Orient Express. I’ve seen the series and thought it was ace a few years ago, and I’ve never read Agatha Christie. I feel like this would be a great book to start with.


  9. These are all incredible books to snuggle to during winter! I have only read The boy, the mole, the horse and the fox and loved it! Need to add Big Panda and Tiny Dragon to the list!


  10. I love that you did the winter wonderland book tag! I loved reading Murder on the Orient Express, and A History of Wild Places sounds really interesting. Also, that’s wonderful you’ve been enjoying the books you’ve been reading recently.


  11. Thanks for this list. I’ve been in a reading slump for some time now, so this is timely. I’d try The Great Alone for a start.


    1. It’s got such a high rating because the thought and meaning behind each little piece of life advice or observance is so touching and inspiring. There are many points made that really connected with me — I hope you get to read it soon; it’s wonderful.


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