6 books to read during the heart of winter

We’re in the thick of it now. It’s the end of January, and it’s dark and we’re cold. But it’s a great time of year to stay in and read. Here are a few book recommendations according to the type of reading experience you’re looking for.

If you want to get hooked by a gripping gothic novel…


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is a perfect winter read. Set in 1940s England, a doctor is called to an estate to tend to a patient. After befriending the family living there, the doctor returns to the property on numerous occasions, only to notice increasingly strange activity in the home. This book is a classic ghost story that includes a psychological element that will leave you thinking about the novel for some time.

If you want to curl up with a delicious mystery…


You should read The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This dark campus novel centres around a clique of university students. Unlike a lot of murder mysteries, this is not a whodunnit–from the beginning, we learn about the murder, know who victim is and are told that the protagonist was involved. Instead, you will be turning the pages wanting find out what exactly happened and why it happened.

If you want to wallow in the bleakness of winter with an equally bleak book…


It doesn’t get much more depressing than Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. This certainly isn’t a book for the faint of heart. The story is basically one horrible thing happening to protagonist Jude followed by the next. If you’re already in a dark mindset, it’s best to leave this one alone. But if your mood can handle it, it is a masterful depiction of Victorian society.

If you want to travel to another place, in another time…


That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan will transport you to 1920s Paris. This memoir about Callaghan’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald et al will not only have you dreaming about the writer’s life in the City of Light, but it will also have you ruminating about how even the briefest of friendships can affect us.

If you want to hide away from people…


You should read The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. This book tells the true story of Christopher Knight, a man who disappeared in his 20s to live in the woods. No one knew what happened to Knight until he was caught, more than two decades later, breaking in to nearby cottages where he’d steal food and other supplies. If winter makes you want to hibernate and avoid society, The Stranger in the Woods might just make you realize you’re more social than you thought.

If you just want to laugh and laugh and laugh…


You must pick up a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Have you ever told a friend a story about something funny that happened to you, only to be met with a blank stare? “You had to be there,” you might say. Well, I don’t think that’s ever happened to Sedaris. He somehow manages to perfectly illustrate those hilarious moments of his everyday life in the stories published here. And, when it’s dark and cold outside, the best thing to do might just be to laugh our heads off.



How to create the coziest winter reading experience

20170119_213409Winter can be a bit of a downer. Even when it’s not freezing and snowy, January and February are just, well, blah. But instead of waiting for the seasons to change, embrace the opportunity to stay inside and hunker down with a good book. Here are some tips for creating the ultimate, coziest reading experience.

Slip into something more comfortable

If you’re not the type of person who puts on your comfy pants as soon as you get home, you’ll want to change into your coziest gear. Whether it’s pyjamas, a hoodie and stretchy pants or some sweats, just make sure it’s something you feel relaxed in.

Choose the right setting

Set yourself down in a comfy armchair, or maybe you prefer to curl up on the couch. Wherever your favourite reading spot is, keep a blanket close by in case you get chilly and consider whether you’d like some pillows to prop you up or to lean against.

If you live with other people, make sure you have some privacy or–better yet–get them to join you in your cozy reading experience. Just make sure no one can interrupt you with questions or by watching something on Netflix. Don’t like reading in silence? Try putting on some soft background music or use Noisli to create your preferred ambience.

Know your optimal reading time

Your optimal reading time will be when you’re fully awake, so you can read without drifting off, but not when you are so energized that you can’t sit still. My personal favourite times are first thing in the morning and in the evening after dinner, but maybe a weekend afternoon works best for you.

Also consider how much time you can dedicate to your reading experience. If you’ll need to be out the door soon and have to watch the clock (or check your phone), it will be hard to stay in the moment.

Have treats nearby…

Treats are always a good idea, especially when they accompany a good book. Make sure those treats are close by. You won’t want to interrupt your reading to head to the kitchen if your tummy starts to rumble (or if you are just craving something delicious). I love a good pastry, but other baked goods (sweet or savoury), chocolates or toast with butter and/or jam are also great choices.

…and something hot to drink

No cozy winter reading experience is complete without something to sip. My favourite is a nice cup of tea, but coffee, hot chocolate or apple cider will all work wonderfully. Just keep  in mind the amount you are drinking; the urgent need for a bathroom break doesn’t feel very cozy.

Ignore everything else

Do not feel guilty for not vacuuming. Do not think about what’s on tomorrow’s to-do list. Put your phone on silent or leave it in the other room. Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever you are reading.

So don’t be sad that it’s winter. Grab a pastry and a book and curl up under a blanket. It’s time to get cozy.