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  • Writer's pictureLinnea Archibald

3 winter reads for cold days

Updated: Feb 20

I don’t know about you, but by February, I’m ready for springtime. Unfortunately, at least here in Maine, it is decidedly not spring yet. As I write this, even though it hasn’t snowed in a week or so, we still have a considerable amount covering the ground. 

While I could lean into my desire for warmer weather by reading all books that feel like spring, I find it’s good to lean into the wintering with my book choices too. For me, it’s the time of year for big novels and cozy settings.

If you also want to lean into the vibes of late winter, here are three books to get you through till the flowers show signs of life. 

The paperback cover of Rosamunde Pilcher's book Winter Solstice

Because I loved The Shell Seekers, this was a fixture on my TBR for years before I got to it. Ultimately, I loved it even more than Shell Seekers. One of my favorite tropes is when an author brings together a group of people with little in common and then shows how they can become like family to one another. This book is exactly that.

Following the lives of five protagonists, loosely connected by distant family ties, Pilcher tells a story of how we survive the worst tragedies and learn to thrive again. Elfrida (an aging former actress), Oscar (a church organist in the midst of tragedy), Carrie (a lost woman reeling from heartbreak), Lucy (Carrie's neglected young niece), and Sam (a businessman seeking a new life) find themselves unexpectedly thrown together under the roof of an estate house in a Scottish fishing town during the holidays.

This is a character-driven book that will make you care deeply about this little crew of people. I'm not ashamed to say I cried at the end. Highly recommend.

The cover of "The Frozen River" by Ariel Lawhon

I’ll admit I was an outliner in that I didn’t love the only other book I’ve read by Lawhon (Code Name Hélène), but the premise of this book made me pick it up anyway and I am very glad I did. 

Set in Maine in the winter of 1789, the story opens with the Kennebec River frozen solid. On a freezing night, a group of men discover a dead man frozen in the river and they call upon the community midwife and healer, Martha Ballard, to examine the body and determine his cause of death. Martha, a meticulous record keeper in his daily diary, immediately recognizes the body as a man implicated in a rape case months earlier. Martha then sets out on a quest to solve the mystery and bring justice for the women in the community. 

Yes, this novel is set in the 1700s, but the characters leaped off the page and the setting is so vividly Maine in the winter. It was the perfect midwinter read. 

The cover of "Still Life" by Louise Penny

Winter is the time to read cozy murder mysteries. I don’t make the rules. If you haven’t already, now is a great season to dive into the wonderful Chief Inspector Gamache series. 

In this first book of the series, a body is found in the woods of Three Pines on Thanksgiving weekend. Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec are summoned to the small town to investigate. With its quirky inhabitants and cozy atmosphere, it’s hard to believe anyone in the town could have wanted to kill the beloved artist Jane. 

If you love a small-town murder mystery (think any classic BBC mystery out there), this is the series for you. You’ll fall in love with the weird characters and the town itself. Plus, there are a lot of books in the series, so feel free to just hunker down till spring. 

What sorts of books do you like reading during the winter? Do you have a favorite season for reading?



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Image by Susan Q Yin


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