We hate to break it to you, but we still have at least two months of cold winter weather to bear. So if you’re anything like us, then you’re probably already sick and tired of the bone-piercing winds, piles of mushy gray snow and below-freezing temperatures. You also likely have little to no desire to set foot outside again until the thermometer cracks at least 50 degrees.
Well, have no fear. We’ve rounded up six books to help keep you warm during this arctic chill. From newly released fiction to beloved classics, you’re sure to find your next favorite read somewhere in between that’ll tide you over until the frost melts.
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Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
Synopsis: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
Reasons to snuggle: This book is literally centered around a fire (not a spoiler, we promise, it happens in the first sentence), but it’s the drama and mystery that will keep you glued to the pages. Celeste Ng’s second novel is totally engrossing and emotional, which is what we all are looking for in a winter read—something to distract us from the misery that’s just outside our doorsteps.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
Synopsis: 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. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.
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.
Reasons to snuggle: Eleanor’s story is perhaps one of the most heartwarming stories to come out of the last year. Walking alongside her as she deals with her past and the depression it causes will have you feeling so empathetic for other’s who come from similarly difficult backgrounds. And as her friendships grow (particularly, her friendship with Raymond) we promise that you’ll continue to grow into her story and totally forget that it’s below freezing outside.
The Girls, Emma Cline
Synopsis: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be-infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
Reasons to snuggle: Sometimes a beach read is all you need to start feeling warm and to give you back that summer mentality. It helps that this highly-anticipated book is set in the years hottest month and that it’s highly addicting. We promise that once you start it you won’t be able to put it down until you get to the last page.
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Synopsis: Life in Middlemarch is a study in provincial life, indeed. Young Dorothea Brooke has high hopes in life but soon settles in marriage. As it turns out, her much older husband is not what she really needs to accomplish her noble deeds in life.
Meanwhile, a young doctor moves to town but has a hard time fitting in. He finds himself settling in marriage, too. It begs the question, why marry at all, or why not wait for love?
All is not lost; Dorothea finds friendship in her husband’s cousin, but jealousy ensues. What will happen when her husband dies but leaves a provision in his will, causing Dorothea to lose her inheritance if she marries the cousin? Can she live happily ever after?
Reasons to snuggle: The sheer length of this classic novel alone will keep you warm as you carry it around for the next two months. The slow pace of the story is a perfect match for the slow pace of the winter months, but the love story and character growth will keep you entranced throughout.
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towels
Synopsis: A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Reasons to snuggle: There’s no better way to realize that winter, where you are, isn’t all that bad, then by spending some time in Russia’s coldest months. Amor Towels is an incredibly talented writer, and his newest offering will have you glued from page one (and have you feeling very thankful that you still have the freedom outside when you get to the last page).
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
Synopsis: What more can a mystery addict desire than a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds, thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?
Reasons to snuggle: This Christie classic recently got a new screen adaptation (which we highly recommend for a snow day viewing). The quick read is set on a train in the middle of a blizzard, and as you race to beat Hercule Poirot to the conclusion you won’t have any mental room left to calculate the number of layers you should be putting before heading out into the winter tundra.