• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Wintry literature: recommendations to embrace the cold

ByMia Siitonen

Dec 6, 2023
Pink winter sunrise over a fieldThe Church of Knutwil in the First LIght of the Morning, covered in cold Fog

December is here, bringing with it the shortest and coldest of days. But fear not: these books are the literary equivalent of warming your hands by an open log fire, and will encourage you to embrace the colder days ahead.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Was there ever a literary genre quite so well-suited to a season as gothic literature is to winter? I would argue not, and there is no place better to begin than with du Maurier’s best-loved tale. Cold, ghostly, and deliciously descriptive, the combination of the draughty setting of Manderley house and the haunting spirit of Rebecca de Winter lends itself perfectly to shorter, darker days. 

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

At just 154 pages, Winter in Sokcho is the ideal rapid read to embrace the winter spirit in just a few sittings. Set in the tourist town of Sokcho, South Korea, in the off-season, the book itself feels like something of a fever dream. It follows a blossoming friendship between the narrator, a Sokcho native, and a mysterious visiting Frenchman. In terms of plot, not much happens, yet Winter in Sokcho draws you in, with an icy, eerie stillness and its exploration of cultural identity, family, war and loneliness.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents’, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” Immediately recognisable from its very first line, Little Women is a true cold-weather classic. A delightfully easy read, the novel feels irrepressibly hopeful in spite of the March family’s misfortune. It is exquisitely festive and a wonderful lesson in finding joy in the smallest of things: “Not a very splendid show, but there was a great deal of love done up in the few little bundles”.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Entirely different from anything you’re likely to have read before, Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller is startlingly, unapologetically unique. Its frame narrative, about a character trying to read a book called ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’, is a postmodern take on the ‘story-within-a-story’ concept, wherein the reader plays a central role. It is both dizzyingly confusing and astoundingly inventive, whilst embodying winter in its bleak setting.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

A festive themed murder mystery, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas tells the story of a murder committed in the midst of a family reunion on Christmas Eve. Poirot is enlisted to uncover the killer. Full of whirling suspicion and familial grudges, it’s a gripping crime to sink your teeth into this bleak midwinter, and no one writes mystery better than Christie. 

Winter Morning” by lukas.b0 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0