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Winter Wonderland: Books with a Wintery Atmosphere

By Amy Wright, Lauren Jones, Zoe Doyle, Rowan Jackson and Ana Matute

We know Christmas is coming, and to help you feel this wonderful season, we decided to pick some wintery reading recommendations. These books will bring a little bit of snow from different places in the world, from Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, which is set in Massachusetts, to The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol in Saint Petersburg. Pick your favourite hot drink and curl up with one of these books for Christmas!

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet is a heartwarming and feel-good romance that will help ease you into the colder months. The novel tells the story of Mina, who heads to her godmother’s Swiss chalet to get away from a humiliating breakup. You can’t help but root for Mina as she embraces new experiences and a potential new romance. The book will transport you to Switzerland and make you want to head to the snowy Alps as soon as possible. And it is not just the scenery that is enticing: Caplin’s descriptions of the food and drink will have you craving hot chocolate and cake. With endearing characters that you’ll love, The Little Swiss Ski Chalet offers cosy, dreamy escapism which makes it the perfect read for winter.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Set in the blustery chill of New York at Christmastime, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is the first story in the Vanderbeekers children’s series. The novel tells the story of the Vanderbeeker family, who live in a brownstone on 141st Street. Shortly before Christmas, their grouchy, reclusive landlord, Mr Beiderman, decides that he will not be renewing their lease, so the family will have to leave their beloved home. The Vanderbeeker children are desperate to change Mr Beiderman’s mind and the story is full to the brim with their secret missions, creative ideas and accidental mishaps – which are completely hilarious.

The story also highlights Yan Glaser’s remarkable attention to detail: the book is full of vivid descriptions which make it easy to get lost in, and the characters are interesting and unique. It’s undeniably a feel-good read that all the family will enjoy!

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings

A magical confection of a book, The Miraculous Sweetmakers is a middle grade historical fantasy book about two young girls peddling sweets on the frozen River Thames during the Great Frost of London in 1683. Thomasina and Anne hear rumours that, at night, the frozen river turns into a magical Frost Fair with creatures and beasts of the Fair Folk. And, if you can find Father Winter, he will grant your greatest desire. But Thomasina has an impossible wish – she longs to bring her brother back from the dead. The two friends soon discover that the Frost Fair may not be all it seems and that wishes come at a cost. Warming even the coldest of hearts, this book is about the power of friendship, wintery magic and the weight of grief.

The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol

One of the most charming stories I have read is The Overcoat. This delightful tale is about Akaki Akákievich Bashmachkin, one young man who suffers many injustices in a long cold winter. This winter isn’t just in the town but in the hearts of the people in Saint Petersburg.

During the story, Akaki starts searching for a coat that helps him survive in Saint Petersburg. The way this tale is told is very detailed and will make you feel the coldness touching your heart uniquely.

This story is ideal for starting the season and feeling the snow. This tale especially has many characteristics that shaped Russian literature, which explores a very snowy country.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

For those of you who are struggling to leave the Halloween season but want to feel cold and wintery, Eileen is a perfect book for readers who enjoy dark atmospheres, gritty and vivid descriptions, and a disillusioned and unreliable narrator.

Set amongst the snowy landscape of a Massachusetts town in the 1960s, Eileen follows the main character, Eileen Dunlop, a resentful and unstable young woman who spends her days working in a boys' prison and caring for her alcoholic father. She dreams of escape and change so when the cheerful and endearing Rebecca enters Eileen’s life, she immediately becomes enamoured. However, their friendship swiftly begins to take a sinister turn, ultimately pulling her into a dark crime.

Ottessa Moshfegh writes with intense and often vile descriptions, mirroring the stark bitterness of the book’s setting and the state of Eileen’s mind. This dark psychological thriller uses unique and fierce prose to envelope the reader in the cold and unsettling world in which Eileen lives.


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