Snow is a perfect character. It’s relentless, it’s uncaring, it’s destructive, it’s basically unpredictable, and under the right circumstances, it’s devastatingly beautiful. It will bury, destroy, disturb, upset and entrap. It can soften any noise or crash like an explosion. It can freeze a person solid or protect them.
And in the midst of a real-life blizzard, it can be wonderful meta-reading when it’s snowing inside your book as well. Think of “Doctor Zhivago” — who doesn’t envision the magical snow globe of that sleigh ride to Varikyno?
Chill out with one of these:
'Winter’s Tale' by Mark Helprin
A perfect book for winter reading. The ice-sleigh speeding across the infinitely cold and completely frozen Lake of the Coheeries will carry you off into this magical realism adventure with timelines in two different centuries.
'A Game of Thrones' by George R.R. Martin
It’s impossible not to be transported with the phrase “winter is coming.”
And winter in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series is about as wintry as it gets, meteorologically and metaphorically.
The first book in this iconic series will have you riveted to the pages, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
'Snow Falling on Cedars' by David Guterson
One of the most cinematic books, surrounded by this feeling of enveloping snow on an island in Puget Sound.
David Guterson created a tense legal thriller wrapped in tragic history, and all these years later, it’s still the cold standard.
'The Snowman' by Jo Nesbo
On the day of the year’s first snow, a snowman inexplicably appears in someone’s yard. Then someone in the house disappears. Only her pink scarf remains, and the snowman is now wearing it.
Inspector Harry Hole discovers it’s not the first time this has happened.
If you find a snowman in your yard, you better hope the kids built him.
'When Mountains Move' by Julie Cantrell
A World War II-era family learns to farm in the beautiful and unpredictable Rocky Mountains — where Millie Reynolds has buried a dark secret.
As the winter snows set in and choices weigh heavy, every path leads to pain. But Millie will do anything to protect the ones she loves and learns to rely on the mountains to show her the way.
'Smilla’s Sense of Snow' by Peter Hoeg
Fascinatingly constructed and so chillingly compelling. This Nordic noir groundbreaker is the story of a young boy who supposedly fell to his death in the Copenhagen snow.
A Greenlander named Smilla tracks down the killer, and as the description says, “an explosive secret takes her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes.”
'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis
How many of us have hidden in a closet and wondered if we found the right one, we could travel to Narnia, even though it’s infinitely dangerous?
We all wanted to go with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy to that frozen land ruled by the tyrannical White Witch.
This is the second in the classic Chronicles of Narnia series, but read this one first.
'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman
There seems to be a fantasy theme on this list, and maybe that is one of the mysterious properties of snow.
When intrepid Lyra must travel far, far north in order to stop the … well, you know. There are witch clans and armored bears. And those are the good guys!
This book — like all books in the His Dark Materials series — is thrilling, inspirational, thought-provoking and timeless. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s only for a YA audience.
'One By One' by Ruth Ware
This take on an Agatha Christie novel is so much fun to read. We all know the “group of people trapped in a mountain chalet in a snowstorm” routine, and yet, this one has twists and an undercurrent of rich techie millionaires.
And as they say, tensions simmer. There’s an avalanche, and the electricity goes out, and there’s nothing to eat, and … the one thing you don’t want to do is go outside.
'Murder on the Orient Express' by Agatha Christie
This is the “everyone trapped on a train in the snow” Agatha Christie classic and still one of the best books like this ever written. It’s enhanced by a few very unpredictable puzzle pieces, and not just the ending.
20 eagerly awaited books hitting shelves in 2021
Here are 20 of the year’s most eagerly awaited new titles, ranging from famous names to prestige-award winners to highly anticipated first-timers.
'A Swim in the Pond in the Rain' by George Saunders
The seven essays in this book, subtitled “In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading and Life,” are derived from the Russian literature class that George Saunders has taught for decades at Syracuse University, examining how fiction works and why it matters. Penguin Random House, Jan. 12
'Concrete Rose' by Angie Thomas
A prequel to Angie Thomas’ mega-bestselling YA novel “The Hate U Give,” this book revisits Garden Heights 17 years before the events of the first book, focusing on the life of teenager Maverick Carter. HarperCollins, Jan. 12
'Just As I Am' by Cicely Tyson
Now 96, with a remarkable stage and screen career dating back to the 1950s (following success as a model), the Presidential Medal of Freedom winner is telling her life story, describing the book as “my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside.” HarperCollins, Jan. 26
'Let Me Tell You What I Mean' by Joan Didion
This essay collection unites 12 Didion pieces, published from 1968 to 2000, on a variety of topics: journalism, California robber barons, not getting into Stanford, Martha Stewart. Penguin Random House, Jan. 26
'Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019'
Ninety writers each take on a five-year period of Black history in this unique volume, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, authors of, respectively, “How to Be an Antiracist” and “Set the World on Fire.” Penguin Random House, Feb. 2
'The Survivors' by Jane Harper
Jane Harper sets tense, moody mysteries in remote Australian locations (“The Dry,” “Force of Nature”).
This one takes place in a small coastal town where a body washes up on the beach. Flatiron Books, Feb. 2
'Forgone' by Russell Banks
Russell Banks, the bestselling author of “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Affliction,” returns with his first novel in 10 years. It’s the story of a dying documentary filmmaker and draft evader who agrees to one final interview. Ecco, March 2
'Klara and the Sun' by Kazuo Ishiguro
This one’s been eagerly awaited: It’s Ishiguro’s first book since being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017.
The author of “The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go” dips into science fiction here, with his main character being an Artificial Friend in a futuristic shop window. Penguin Random House, March 2
'Later' by Stephen King
Stephen King’s latest sure-to-be-a-bestseller thriller has at its center a young boy with unnatural abilities who becomes involved in a police search for a killer. Penguin Random House, March 2
'The Committed' by Viet Thanh Nguyen
A sequel to Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Sympathizer,” this new book follows the main character — an unnamed, conflicted spy — as he arrives in 1980s Paris with his brother. Grove, March 2
'My Broken Language' by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Hudes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, tells her own coming-of-age tale in this memoir about growing up in a West Philly barrio. Penguin Random House, April 6
'The Souvenir Museum' by Elizabeth McCracken
Author of the enchantingly witty novel “Bowlaway,” Elizabeth McCracken here presents her latest collection of short stories, with settings ranging from a Scottish island to a Texas water park. HarperCollins, April 13
'Whereabouts' by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s first novel in nearly a decade is also her first written in Italian and translated into English. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Namesake,” among other works. Penguin Random House, April 27
'Second Place' by Rachel Cusk
The acclaimed British author of the “Outline” trilogy sets her latest novel in a remote coastal region, where a woman has invited a famed artist to visit her. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, May 4
'Project Hail Mary' by Andy Weir
Andy Weir hit the bestseller jackpot with “The Martian”; his new novel is another interstellar adventure, with an astronaut who’s the sole survivor of a last-chance mission. Penguin Random House, May 4
'While Justice Sleeps' by Stacey Abrams
The Georgia politician, voting rights activist and bestselling author makes her debut as a writer of political thrillers; this one takes place within the U.S. Supreme Court. Penguin Random House, May 11
'Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir' by Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford, a journalist and host of the “Chronicles of Now” podcast, makes her much-buzzed book debut with an intensely personal story: her relationship with her incarcerated father. Flatiron Books, June 1
'The Nature of Middle-earth' by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien wrote extensively about his imaginary land of Middle-earth. Many of those essays are published here for the first time. HarperCollins, June 24
'The Turnout' by Megan Abbott
A psychological thriller set at a ballet school? Megan Abbott, author of numerous masterfully tense novels, often sets her books within intense circles of women, each looking over her shoulder. Penguin Random House, July 6
'Harlem Shuffle' by Colson Whitehead
The latest offering from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Underground Railroad” is the playful tale of a heist, set at a Harlem hotel in the early 1960s. Penguin Random House, Sept. 14