I’ve talked before on Words Like Silver about how much I love any book that has atmosphere or a strong sense of feeling. If I had to narrow down my book taste to one element, it would be that: distinctiveness.
Winter is so lovely and specific in that sense that any book that treats it well captures that niche voice. When somebody captures it succinctly, I’m blown away. So I thought I’d share the moods and elements of some of my favorite “winter” books.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater | Goodreads
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater has all the best pieces of paranormal books that were big way back in 2013. It has the tortured romance, her stunning writing, and tension that escalates throughout the narrative. The angst woven throughout it is perfect for indulgence; the atmosphere sets it apart. She plays with the distinction of temperature as a mechanism by which to racket up the suspense, which is done so damn well. I love these books for the imagery and the story, specifically, and Stiefvater skillfully uses the cold to navigate those.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan | Goodreads
It’d be impossible for me to highlight winter — or Christmas — books without paying homage to the book I reread practically every year. I read this first in middle school after exams, and laughed so hard at every page. I’ve talked about this before on the blog, but it’s rare I find a book that makes me laugh so hard I cry. Most deserve a chuckle, not a full-on cataclysm. What’s more, it has poignant moments, a cute love story, and plenty of seasonal cheer. Love letter to New York in the winter, anyone?
A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz | Goodreads
It’s been a while since I’ve read this one so I can’t remember if it actually takes place in winter but it has the sparse, evocative nature that I personally associate with winter. The world-building is so beyond strange, and it’s done really well too. There’s a pervasive fairytale element, told in a raw and dark way. Still, there’s a sense of hope and stories untold that lingers. I wish this book got more attention, and I appreciate how unconventional it is. Plus, its cover is perfect for winter.
Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara | Goodreads
This is a book I’ve been trying to get myself to reread for a while, but each time I go to pick it up, it still feels fresh in my head. I still feel stained from it — a penetrating, lush sadness and beauty that reminds me of walking in winter woods at night. That sense of a moment that’s going to end before you fully get to capture it. This one actually takes place in snow, following a girl’s grief after her boyfriend’s death while she’s still trying to pick up the pieces, and repair her relationship with her father. Gorgeous.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman | Goodreads
It would not be a winter list if I didn’t include the canonical If I Stay. It has buzz, for good reason. It’s one of those books that has a strong story, with minimal language. You absorb a lot more from the book than what’s given to you. It’s also a great pick for reluctant readers. When Mia’s family is killed in a devastating car crash, she reexamines her life from her coma and has to decide whether to stay and reconstruct her life — or to go. Bonus points for a complicated, fading romance and wholesome moments. Taking place outside of Seattle, it’s a great Pacific Northwest winter story.
A History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund | Goodreads
I reviewed this one earlier in the year, and I did mention that it fits with the winter feeling.
“It’s a book that feels like winter. It’s another atmospheric read, one that casts the wintery woods in a more sinister and significantly more lonely light. I had to read it in phases.”
One of the blurbs called this one the loneliest book they’d ever read, and that’s so accurate. It’s one constructed so subtly that you don’t totally realize what it’s getting at until the end, when you put it down, stunned. It’s also really hard to read at points. I love that Emily Fridlund hones in on such specific, occasionally repulsive details that paint such a human picture of moments.
Frostbite by Richelle Mead | Goodreads
I feel a little weird recommending a sequel in a series as a winter pick, but it’s so true. Again, this is a paranormal read. Unlike Shiver, however, its strength isn’t in moments of tension you can pick apart and sink into. Instead, it’s full of action. It’s one of the only books that has ever truly surprised me, kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s engrossing and cinematic. I love the characters and the story and the world; it’s so beyond distinct. It gets me excited to talk about. And it takes place at a ski resort full of structure and enigma, combining all the best and most luxurious parts of all your favorite guilty pleasure reads. I adore this series. So dramatic, so sultry, and so brilliantly plotted.