The East Coast is about to be pummeled with snow in the first blizzard of the season. This is no horror to me–I’m well insulated in my fortress of books. Blizzards really are the best time to read. It is so peaceful and all you want to do is snuggle up inside under a blanket reading. Here are my best books to read in a snowstorm, the kind of books to get snowed in with you’ll want to read this winter. From classics of romance to horror and literary fiction, these novels will help you have a pleasant winter reading session.
The Winter King – C.L. Wilson (Fantasy, romance)
At first I was a skeptic—high fantasy published by Avon romance? Could this be the romance equivalent of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire? Well, kind of. C.L. Wilson writes epic high fantasy for the romance crowd in The Winter King. Whereas Martin’s “romance” is barely there, Wilson’s romance is front and center. Set in a land that looks like this:
this novel is packed with all the enchantment of a fairy tale set in a land covered in snow. When a headstrong princess of the south (and a storm summoner, too) is married off to the notorious King Wynter in the north, things heat up, even as the threat of a mysterious evil power rising up (did someone say White Walkers?).
Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin (Literary fiction)
Well, you might not be able to get more seasonal than an epic magical realism literary romance novel with the title Winter’s Tale, but Mark Helprin’s saga about New York City and a passionate love affair that twisted reality into fantasy would be a good pick. Winter’s Tale has a kind of dreamlike quality to it, almost like a fable, myth, or fairy tale about New York and the love between Peter Lake, a common thief constantly on the run, and Beverly Penn, an enchanting young woman who is dying. Peter undertakes a quest to stop time and save his love. Under arctic air and ice cold snow drifts, amidst unprecedented mountains of snow, New York City bears witness to a romance that drives one man to do anything to save the woman he loves. Readers find that reading this novel is an emotional experience.
Orient – Christopher Bollen (Literary fiction/mystery)
Christopher Bollen’s Orient, named one of the best books of 2015 by NPR, is a character-driven literary thriller about a small community on Long Island. In a somewhat And Then There Were None fashion, Orient depicts the way the “oh so perfect” residents begin to unravel as puzzling deaths start to plague the town. This big, fat, juicy novel standing at over 600 pages is a delicious treat to savor over a long snowstorm. Liberty, of my fellow Book Rioters who I trust blindly for book recommendations said,
“I was wildly delighted by this smart, sexy mystery set in Orient in Long Island…This is one of those incredibly well-written mysteries that have such a great narrative and attention to detail that the mystery almost seems secondary. And it has a “No way did that just happen…OMG IT DID” moment that had me reeling. This book is nasty and delicious and I loved it!” (Goodreads review).
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (Literary fiction)
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara’s epic novel about four young men and their friendship across decades, begins in the characters’ twenties not too long after they graduated college. Each of these friends—Willem the actor, JB the artist, Malcolm the architect, and Jude the lawyer—are so vividly drawn that you feel they could walk off the page in front of you. If you love character-driven novels, this is candy for you. The plot is expansive and deals with friendship, masculinity/brotherhood, family, career, art, and relationships. This novel is perfect for a snowstorm because it is a treat to savor over its 700+ pages. Reading the epic tale of this friendship is not unlike sipping a bottomless mug of Assam black tea on a cold winter’s day. As a Kirkus Award winner and National Book Award finalist and Man Booker Prize finalist this novel is undoubtedly a book that separates your life into before you read it and after you read it. This winter, pick it up and experience that dividing line.
Dreaming of You – Lisa Kleypas (Romance)
Dreaming of You is my all-time favorite Lisa Kleypas historical romance novel, and indeed some say it is her best, if not one of the best romance novels of all time. Set in the 19th century, the novel features two very emotionally complex characters, Sara Feilding and Derek Craven, a rags-to-riches rogue. This is truly a slow burn novel that is rooted in true love with some amazing romance scenes that will warm you up in the cold of winter. I love that this novel gives you a brave heroine who sticks to her guns and an alpha hero who is humbled by his love for an incredible woman who happens to be a writer and a feminist.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Fantasy, romance)
Readers absolutely adore Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, because of its fairy-tale esque quality and phenomenal world building (a fancy name for the creation of a fantastical world that feels so real you can walk right into it). I admired Morgenstern’s way to craft a spellbinding romance that felt as epic as Romeo and Juliet. This novel tells the story of two young magicians who become lovers who cannot be together because they are confined by the owners/guardians who exploit them and pit them against each other to serve their own feud. This novel is dreamy and lush but full of phrases that make you smile. I picked it for this list because if you’re like me and you like to walk around your town during or after a snowstorm and pretend like you’re in a fairytale world, you will appreciate how The Night Circus gives you the same feels.
The Terror – Dan Simmons (Horror, Action/Adventure)
Okay, I’m leaving you with this last wintery book—The Terror by Dan Simmons—because if you are well and truly snowed in with others, you might feel pretty freaked out by this expansive, explosive novel about the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Marooned in the arctic ice, men of the expedition endure all the gritty, gruesome realities of survival stories live. Oh yeah, and a strange creature or thing or monster something or other is picking men off the two ships in the dead of night. Simmons is a master of psychological horror, and this novel proves his preeminence as a leader in literary horror. I recommend this book because it is long (over 800 pages) enough to keep you busy and guaranteed to make you happy that wherever you are, it’s not the Arctic Circle.