11 Must-Read Books for Winter Hibernation

Let’s find ourselves in stories this winter.


Now is a good time to lose ourselves in books. And I don’t mean just because our radiators draws us in like magnets when the temperature drops. I mean because reading, as Amelia pointed out last week, is a way to cope. With stress, sadness, boredom, hopelessness, societal unrest. All the stuff that makes us want to crawl under our covers and, I don’t know, live out the rest of our lives there. I guess the irony of books as coping mechanisms is they, too, might keep us under the covers for a while, but a voluntary duvet fort is far preferable than one inhabited out of dread.

Above, the team has shared some of our favorite winter reads for this round of MR Book Club. And as a special dead-of-winter treat, each one comes complete with sock and beverage recommendations, just in case your feet and stomach need some TLC, too. Click through and then share yours!

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • nevvvvave

    I was actually really disappointed after reading Sweetbitter 🙁 it was hyped up so much but I felt like the plot and character development was nonexistent and the characters seemed really fake. Beautiful descriptions of the food/wine though lol

    • Mary

      Same! I found it to impressionistic and lacking in depth. The “jumpiness” of her writing style was compelling to a point but then just distracting

    • libs

      I was really not a fan either 🙁 glad I’m not the only one who thought it was just so lacking in all the stuff that makes good Fiction, even if it was good food writing

    • Laura Quinn

      I agree! It was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The author must have a killer publicist though, I’ve seen this book pushed EVERYWHERE!

    • Lindsey

      Yeah, I kind of agree. It was super hyped, and there were parts of it I liked, but ultimately I didn’t get the craze around it. I know a lot of people loved it for how “accurate” it was about that lifestyle, and as someone who worked in the service industry for many years, it was accurate, but maybe I just ultimately didn’t like the main character. I think that was probably it for me. Not a bad book, but was disappointed to not love it as much as I hoped to.

  • *Buys Sweet Bitter*

    • Jasmin Aujla


  • PlaidandPrejudice

    I recommend Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for an absolutely chilling look at what can happen when reproductive rights are chipped away and religion is allowed to take hold of a society. She wrote it in the ’80s, and it could absolutely have been written as a piece of modern-day political critique. I have to wonder if she had a time machine to 2017 or something.

  • Bee

    The Secret History is the ultimate cozy winter/fall book. I reread it every single year sometime between October and the end of February. So good!


    • Mary

      Absolutely love this book

    • Amelia Diamond

      It was one of those books that everyone was always like “OH MY GOD AMELIA I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE NEVER READ…” so finally, I did!

      • Bee

        A common discussion between my friends and I is always about our dream cast if this were ever to be a movie. I really need a movie!

    • Kara

      I swear, I read this book and then immediately wanted to write my thesis on it… I was never able to name “my favorite book” until I read The Secret History.

      • kes

        It’s my favorite too! Among my favorites, anyway. Donna Tartt is so wonderful.

  • Adding a bunch of these to my Amazon wish list.

    One of my favorite winter reads is The Camerons by Robert Crichton. It’s not cozy so much as it is sad, but the compelling story of a coal mining family in Scotland and the struggles they face makes it impossible to put down.


  • Sonia

    YES to Rules of Civility! Was not nearly as impressed by Gentleman of Moscow, but love me some Amor Towles none-da-less.

  • Abby

    I have Sweet Bitter checked out of the library right now, though I haven’t started it yet. I need to finish Fates and Furies by Laura Groff first.

    • Jolie

      Fates and Furies is next on my reading list…reading Sweetbitter now! haha

    • Lindsey

      Fates & Furies was one of my favorites books that year- I still recommend it to people!! So good.

  • The Secret History…I couldn’t even…

  • Caroline

    Currently reading The Secret History and yes, it’s fantastic! I’ve highlighted more passages in Donna Tartt books than all my old textbooks combined.

  • Sloane

    The Girls by Emma Cline is amazing.

    • kes

      Really liked it too!

    • Chloe

      It had me hooked, I read it in a day!

  • Aydan

    Yes yes yes!! Added a few of these to my booklist!!

  • MMR

    this is so great!! i cant wait to pick one and start… i’ve been looking for a good book suggestion for a few weeks now, I’m not much of a reader so I want to find the book that makes me fall in love with reading!!! hopefully it’s one of these 🙂

  • libs

    I’ve reread The Secret History at least once a year since the first time I read it. A good pick! The Goldfinch, also by Donna Tartt, is another solid choice.

    I’m excited to pick up the new Zadie Smith book – will probably start reading after I finish The Muse, which I’m only a few pages into but so far, so good.

  • kea

    Any and all of Elena Ferrante, first of all. Also Helen DeWitt. And any of the following still-alive first-rate writers (read every published word they’ve written. Immediately.): Phillip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Cynthia Ozick, J.M. Coetzee, Denis Johnson, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, Julian Barnes, Marilynne Robinson, Huraki Murakami

  • Mercedes Ayala


  • Ada

    A Little Life is soooo good! Ultimate winter read!

    • fleetwoodwhack

      Just read this and literally could not put it down. Was rude to family and friends bc I read it at dinner tables and movie nights etc. Sobbed throughout. Returning to the library I was like “goodbye, my sweet friend”

    • doublecurl

      yo this book is literally the worst thing to ever be paired with seasonal depression

  • Nicole Gannaway

    The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Thoroughly entertaining in the makes-you-forget-where-you-are kind of way! AND the last book comes out in less than a month so you can devour all of the books one right after another.

  • yo! tam

    Pema Chodron’s “Start Where You Are” saved my life a couple years ago. I was going through a severe depression and this book helped me as a first step in a positive direction. Leandra, thanks so much for putting it on your list!

  • I really want to read Sweetbitter! I’m currently reading Solar Bones and abosolutely loving it though

    – Natalie

  • Jolie

    I’m reading Sweetbitter right now, and I’ve been surprised by how much I love it. I worked as a server in NYC restaurants for a few years and this is the only book I’ve ever read that describes the strange little world of NYC restaurants in an accurate, poetic way. I’ve highlighted nearly every page.

    • Haley Nahman

      I was also surprised! But more just because it was super hyped and I’m picky with books and just wanted to be a contrarian. But ultimately I couldn’t help but love it. BAH HUMBUG.

  • Added a few more from here onto my Good Reads wishlist. I do have Zadie’s Swing Time on my bookshelf.

    Highly recommend Ali Smith’s ‘How to be both”. I’ve only just started it but loving it so far, quite different to anything else I have read.

  • E-M

    The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante are amazing.

  • Kara

    I saw a mention of Sweetbitter earlier this week for the series of interviews with New York servers and was super intrigued! This list along with all these comments is everything I’ve been looking for lately, so, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

  • Anastasia

    I’m feeling like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao isn’t getting nearly enough (/any) hype in this comment thread, so I created a Disqus account just to pick up Harling’s metaphoric baton and add that this book is seriously some next level Pulitzer-Prize-material, literary gold medal status shit, capital L, capital G. It’s just that good, and even if diaspora/the political history of the DR isn’t your bag, the characters will GET AT YOU. When the narrators switch, you’re briefly annoyed to be torn from what you’re convinced is the best part of the novel, only to read further and decide this next narrator is actually the best part (this happens every time, how does Diaz do that?). Immediately after reading TBWLOOW I told all my friends to follow suit and all two of them agree that it is a DELIGHT!!

  • Lindsey

    Just coming back here to say that I grabbed a few of these the other day because of this article. Wasn’t a huge fan of one of them, but the one I’m in the middle of right now and LOVING is The Secret Life. Donna Tartt really is such a fantastic writer. So thank you Amelia!