12 Snowy Winter Books to Read by the Fire

Whether you live somewhere that gets lots of snow, just a little, or none at all, you can easily immerse yourself in winter wonderlands through reading! From cozy snowy landscapes to bleak frozen tundras, here are the best winter books to snuggle up with this season.

stack of winter books with a candle on top and and a silver tree beside it on a grey chair

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Best Winter Fiction Books

If you’re looking for engrossing winter fiction books, you’ve come to the right place! (If you prefer mysteries and thrillers, be sure to check out this list of atmospheric winter thriller books.)

These winter novels are not so much holiday books, but instead stories that conjure images of snowfall, the winter season, and a chill in the air – all perfect for reading in front of a warm fire.

They range from cozy and light-hearted to gripping and emotionally-charged. There’s something for everyone in this list.

And to set the reading mood, be sure to try out one of these cozy reading ambience ASMR videos for fall & winter!

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Migrations book cover

Genre: Literary Fiction/Speculative Fiction

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This breakout international bestseller is about a woman who is determined to follow a flock of Arctic terns (a type of bird) as they attempt their annual migration, in a near-future version of Earth where most animals have gone extinct.

She travels by boat – along with a crew of fishermen – over frigid waters, from Greenland to Antarctica.

This book reminded me a lot of Station Eleven. Not quite so much in scope, but in tone. It was sad yet hopeful, with character development you can really sink into.

It’s not an easy read – there’s a fair amount of trauma, and it’s frightening how relevant the environmental issues are to our current times – but it’s an important one. Beautifully written, too.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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Beartown is set in a small community, nestled in the middle of a snowy forest. Amid shocking secrets that threaten to rip the town apart, the high school hockey team inspires hope.

I’ll be honest: I never thought I’d read a book about hockey, let alone enjoy it. But this emotional story isn’t just about hockey.

It’s about families and teams and the community they represent. It’s about mistakes and pain; redemption and love. Tearing each other down and building each other up.

It will make you care about its characters, and, yes, about hockey – even if you didn’t think you could.

And, if you love this book and its characters like I did, you’ll be happy to hear it’s part of a trilogy!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women book cover

Genre: Classics/Coming-of-Age

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This classic novel is a perfect cozy wintertime read! It’s one of my favorite classics, and parts of it are set during Christmas and the winter season.

Little Women is a coming-of-age novel about the March sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy – as they grow up in New England during the Civil War.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

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A family moves to the outskirts of Alaska in the 1970s, completely unprepared. But the harsh winter isn’t the only thing they’re up against.

This engrossing, emotional story is about love, survival, and family, set against the backdrop of the Alaska wilderness.

This was a solid 5-star read for me (one of my favorite books of all time, in fact), and I highly recommend it. Side note: you might want to keep a box of tissues nearby!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism/Fairy Tale Retelling

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A childless couple arrives in Alaska in the 1920s, attempting to start a homestead. But the winter is brutal, and they struggle to make ends meet.

At the first snowfall, the couple builds a girl out of snow. The next day, the figure is gone – but they find a young girl in the forest, and decide to raise her as their own.

But where did the girl come from?

This historical magical realism story is inspired by a Russian fairy tale.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People book cover

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery/Horror/Historical Fiction

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This is an engrossing book for anyone who loves reading ghost stories during the winter (like I do)!

Set in a small town in Vermont that’s swirling with eerie legends, this story follows a young woman named Ruthie living in an old, remote farmhouse with her mother.

One day, her mother goes missing. Ruthie finds an old journal hidden in her mother’s bedroom, hoping it will give her some answers – however strange they may be.

Winter People is a harrowing ghost story with a unique angle, full of family secrets.

It’s multilayered, switching between time periods and mysterious characters. (I did have a little trouble following the different timelines at first, but it gets clearer after a little while!).

The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo

The Fox Wife book cover

Genre: Historical Fantasy/Mystery

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Set in China in 1908, The Fox Wife explores the Chinese folklore of fox spirits who are believed to transform themselves into beautiful humans in order to lead people to their deaths.

When a woman’s body is found in the snow – her death swirling with rumors about the fox gods – a detective is called to investigate.

Meanwhile, a cursed family believes they are about to lose their eldest son, until a mysterious woman arrives. It seems her arrival may have turned their luck around – but can she be trusted?

Publication date: February 13th, 2024

The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining book cover

Genre: Horror

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This classic hotel horror story follows the Torrance family as they agree to take care of the remote and eerie Overlook Hotel during the off-season, with a harsh winter storm brewing.

The child, Danny Torrance, is one of my favorite characters of all time. He is wise beyond his years, yet still innocent and pure. He always tries to do what’s right.

The Shining is shocking, spine-tingling, and gripping, with incredible character development (or unraveling, in one character’s case).

Even if you’ve already seen the movie adaptation (which I also love), this book is well-worth reading. There’s much more to the story than can be packed into a couple hours of screen time!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism/Mystery

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Set in the late 1800s, this historical mystery – woven with threads of fantasy/magical realism – follows the inhabitants of a town in England near the river Thames.

One winter night, a child is found on the riverbank. She isn’t breathing. Hours later, she miraculously stirs. But where did she come from, and how is she alive?

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan Henry

Once Upon a Wardrobe book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

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I enjoyed The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – another great winter read, by the way – so I was excited to learn more about C. S. Lewis’s life (wrapped up in a fictional story about a young woman and her ill younger brother in the 1950s).

Once Upon a Wardrobe is heartwarming and emotional, with a strong sense of atmosphere.

With settings from a cozy cottage in the snowy English countryside to C.S. Lewis’s childhood home in Ireland, I felt transported by this wonderful book.

Highly recommended, especially for fans of historical fiction, Narnia, and stories that make you feel.

(A quick note, if you’re wondering: this story does touch on faith/beliefs, but only very slightly. It didn’t feel overbearing at all. The message is mainly about finding magic and hope in the world and in stories.)

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Winters Bone book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/Crime

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Set during the harsh winter in a remote, poverty-stricken area of the Ozarks, a young woman named Ree Dolly fights to save her family after she learns they’re about to lose their house.

A sheriff comes to her door, warning her that her father has skipped bail and is nowhere to be found. Her only option is to find him – dead or alive – no matter how dangerous it might be.

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale book cover

Genre: Historical Fantasy/Mythology

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This historical fantasy story is inspired by Russian folklore, and is especially perfect for winter!

It’s set in snowy medieval Russia, about a girl named Vasilisa who must take risks to protect her family and village from a dark threat when misfortunate strikes.

This is the first book in the popular Winternight trilogy, and was nominated for numerous literary awards.

I hope you enjoy these winter novels! They’re best enjoyed while tucked into a warm blanket, with a cozy drink in hand. 🙂

Do you have a favorite winter-inspired book? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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