Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Books To Read In Winter

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The year is almost over, and we're all reading short books to hit our Goodreads goal, right? No? That's just me? Dang.

Here are 10 books I'm hoping to read this winter. Not all of them are short, but they all look fantastic.

🌲  Winter Reading List  ⛄


Adult Literary Fiction

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Why I'm excited to read it: I honestly don't understand what this book is about because the synopsis is so vague! All I know is that it won tons of awards, and all my book friends enjoyed it. I guess it's loosely connected short stories? Each story has a "girl," a "woman," and an "other." I'm eager to find out why so many people love this book.


Adult Historical Fiction

Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem only a distant echo. An only child, he lives alone with Emilie, the mother he adores but who treats him with bitter severity. He begins an intense friendship with a Jewish boy his age, talented and mercurial Anton Zweibel, a budding concert pianist. The novel follows Gustav’s family, tracing the roots of his mother’s anti-Semitism and its impact on her son and his beloved friend.


Why I’m excited to read it: I feel like I saw this book on every award longlist back in 2017. All the historical fiction fans were reading it. Well, all of them except me. I couldn’t find a cheap used copy, but I’ve got one now! Rose Tremain has written a ton of books, so if I enjoy this one, I’ll have her whole backlist to read.


Buy it on Amazon


Adult Science Fiction Graphic Novel

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

Why I'm excited to read it: This series is iconic. Whenever I ask for graphic novel recommendations, this one comes up. If everybody else loves it, I probably will too. Reviewers rave about the fictional world and the snarky characters.

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Why I'm excited to read it: Ever since I read The Long Walk as a teenager, I've been obsessed with alternate history. If a book blends speculative elements with real-life events, I need to read it. Romanov has gotten great reviews from my bookish friends. Also, look at the cover! It's so swirly!

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Alternate History


Behind every powerful man is a trained woman, and behind every trained woman is the Society. It started with tea parties and matchmaking, but is now a countrywide secret. Gossips pass messages in recipes, Spinsters train to fight, and women work together to grant safety to abused women and children. The Society is more than oaths—it is sisterhood and purpose.

In 1926, seventeen-year-old Elsie is dropped off in a new city with four other teenage girls. All of them have trained together since childhood to become the Wife of a powerful man. But when they learn that their next target is earmarked to become President, their mission becomes more than just an assignment; this is a chance at the most powerful position in the Society. All they have to do is make one man fall in love with them first.


Why I’m excited to read it: I’m getting Margaret Atwood vibes from this book, probably because it’s about women pulling society’s strings from behind the scenes. I love alternate history novels and wish more authors wrote them. (If you’re looking for some excellent alternate history, check out Alma Katsu’s The Hunger.)


Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Mystery (?) Horror (?)

Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave . . .

The Council's rules are strict, but they're for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger on the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year.

But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council's suffocating embrace, especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage.

Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall . . .

Why I'm excited to read it: "Excited" is the wrong word. "Cautiously optimistic" might be better. The plot of this book sounds exactly like a dozen other books I've read. That's because I can't pass up the "small town X creepy woods" combination. Cross your fingers that it's good.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Historical Fiction

Herbert Powyss lives in an estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable investigations and experiments in botany. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science—something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London. He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: For seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the basement of the manor house, fitted out with rugs, books, paintings, and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact whatsoever; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay: fifty pounds per annum, for life.

Only one man is desperate to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate laborer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included.

Why I'm excited to read it: Seven years of solitude? I don't know if that would be amazing or horrible. I'd probably go insane. This book sounds like it might have a lot to say about society, science, and how humans exploit one another. It should be interesting.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Historical Horror

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.

When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape.

Why I'm excited to read it: The Terror is a good name for this book because IT'S 800 PAGES! When am I going to have time to read that? This is another alternate history book, and it's quickly becoming a classic. It was published 10+ years ago, but horror lovers are still talking about it. It won a ton of awards. The synopsis is giving me vibes of Alma Katsu's The Hunger. Monsters and starving people in cold places. I'm ready for it.

Buy it on Amazon


Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Marly's father came back from the war a different man. Something inside him seems as cold and dead as the winter world outside. But when the family moves to Grandma's old house on Maple Hill, miracles begin to happen. The sap in the trees begins to rise, the leaves begin to turn, and Marly's father starts to bloom again, like the world around them.

Why I'm excited to read it: One of my long-term reading goals is to read every Newbery Medal winner. That's A LOT of books, and some of them are surprisingly difficult to find. Luckily, a friend gifted me this one. It's the winner from 1957.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Literary Fiction

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew's presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew's story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

Why I'm excited to read it: A strange visitor and a mysterious festival? YES! I want to know who (or what) Pew is and why they’re in the American South. I want to know about the festival. This book has the potential to be all kinds of bizarre and beautiful. Goodreads describes it as “a foreboding, provocative, and amorphous fable about the world today: its contradictions, its flimsy morality, and the limits of judging others based on their appearance.

What are you reading this winter?


  1. The Terror sounds really good - definitely giving Katsu vibes!

  2. I've heard good things about Romanov. I hope you love it.

  3. Miracle on Maple Hill sounds like a delight. I am very impressed by your goal to read all the Newberys. Are you staying current and then reading backwards or are you just randomly reading ones you find in not particular order?

    My Winter reading goals

  4. I've indeed heard only rave reviews about Saga, though I also still need to read it. Hope you'll love all of these!

  5. I surpassed my Goodreads goal, but I also had a few months where I was not working...so there is that. I hope you enjoy all of these when you get a chance to read them. Have a great rest of your week and thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. Cindy from cindysbookcorner

  6. Adding The Gustav Sonata to my tbr. Amazing titles here, happy reading :)

  7. It's funny but I just looked up my review of Miracles on Maple Hill when I saw a blogger was thinking of reading it. The book, according to my review, was pretty much what I'd expected of a book published in 1956, but it also was surprising in some ways.

  8. Interesting mix of books up there. The winter survival ones seem appropriate for the season. Hope they are all winners for you

  9. May you have a wonderful winter of reading!

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  10. What a great list! I love Saga and I just read the most recent volume today. And I have heard great things for Girl, Woman, Other. Happy reading!

  11. I definitely read short books at the end of the year so I can hit my GR goal! In fact, I start avoiding long books starting around October. LOL. I hope you enjoy all these!

    Happy TTT (on a Wednesday)!

  12. The Terror is on my TBR list. I saw the mini-series and now I need to read the book.

  13. Miracle on Maple Hill sounds good--I have read a number of Newberry winners and haven't been disappointment. I surpassed by Goodreads reading goal last month... so no small books for me.

  14. Wow, looks like some great books for winter! I've heard wonderful things about Girl, Woman, Other. It also looks like a wide variety - great for winter reading!

    Book By Book

  15. All the books intrigue me.. but Romanov (always want to read/see anything to do with Anastasia since I first watched a BBC show ages ago) and Miracle on Maple Hill are going on my TBR now..
    My post is here