Winter reads

We’re stuck in the deep freeze, and that doesn’t seem likely to change for awhile. So why not embrace the season by harmonizing the setting of your book with the weather outside? The following list showcases stories set in cold, snowy environments, much like the one beyond your window.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – Set in Iceland in the early 1800s, this work of historical fiction tells the story of Agnes, the last woman to be given the country’s death penalty.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy – Amid the stark landscape of Alaska in the 1920s are Jack and Mabel, a childless couple longing to start a family. Things begin to change when a curious, seemingly wild young girl named Faina emerges from the woods.

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin – In an epic work of fantasy spanning five books and counting, an ancient event has thrown the seasons out of balance. Summers can last for decades and winters for a lifetime, and winter is coming.

The Shining by Stephen King – An author and his family become caretakers of a mountainside hotel for the winter. As their stay lengthens, strange events brew, caused by either a malevolent force within the hotel or the author’s crumbling sanity.

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian – On a stormy winter’s evening in Reddington Vermont in 1981, a midwife takes extreme measures to save a baby’s life. Later, she is charged with the inadvertent death of the mother, and the story of the ensuing trial is told by the midwife’s teenage daughter.

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce – During a ski trip, a young married couple are buried by, and eventually escape from, an avalanche. They emerge to an eerily quiet, evacuated region and must survive on their own.

To Build a FireWhite Fang and The Call of the Wild by Jack London – These classics, the first told from a human point of view, the latter two from animal perspectives, examine the issue of survival in the harshest climates.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson – In a chilly region of the Washington coast in 1954, a suspected murder has rocked a small island community. The trial, held during an intense snowstorm, is complicated by racial tensions, as the suspect is a Japanese-American. 

Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau – Written during Thoreau’s time in a cabin he built in the woods of Massachusetts, this work is both a communion with nature and an examination of the human condition.

Into Thin Air and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – “Into Thin Air” is a rumination on the myths and perils of Mt. Everest, a peak the author himself has summited. “Into the Wild” tells the story of Chris McCandless, a free-spirited young man who took on an Alaskan trek that ultimately cost him his life.

Flickr photo by Jason Wun, available via a Creative Commons license.

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