Why do we read books set in winter when winter can be so terribly miserable? By Andy Sagar

Hello everybody! Bit of a later one today, because I’ve been feeling quite ill this week and I’m a bit all over the place, but you’re in for a treat with this one. It’s by Andy Sagar, who wrote one of my favourite debuts this year that I actually really want to reread over Christmas, and it’s about why he loves reading stories set in winter. Grab a blanket and a snack, and enjoy!

Old Man Winter takes no prisoners. Springtime is cherry blossoms and new flowers; summertime is blue skies and sunbeams; autumn is blankets and fiery leaves. But winter has a far fouler reputation. Winter pulls a curtain of darkness over the theatre of the world; he spangles the bushes with jewels of frost; he clutters the gutters with horrid brown slush. It’s no wonder that so many people feel sorrowful at this often-dismal time of year.

So, why is it that nothing can delight the heart so much as wintry books? Right now, I am reading Natasha Hastings’ delightful The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair, and, as the title would suggest, it couldn’t possibly have been set at any other time of year. I even chose to set my own first book, Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup at winter. But why is that, when so much of real-world winter is so miserable? Indeed, why do we like to read wintry books in the winter season? Haven’t we had enough snow and darkness? When searching for warmth, we might expect our literary tastes to incline elsewhere. Since it is so lauded as the most charming season, we would expect our literary impulses to turn to summer, or perhaps to the hopefulness of springtime, or the cosiness of autumn.

But for me, when it is wintertime, reading about beachside summers as an act of escapism feels artificial. A betrayal of my eyes who can see snow out the window, of my bones who rattle in the chill. I don’t want to pretend I’m in summer; I can feel Old Man Winter’s teeth on my skin. How could I possibly pretend otherwise? No, I don’t want to run from the misery. I want to run toward it. I want to run into the heart of winter and see how cold it can get. And there’s something more than that, too. I think it’s only possible to feel truly cosy when you’ve felt truly cold, when you’ve dashed inside from a horrendous blizzard, snowflakes still coiled in your coat, to find hot chocolate warm on the stove and a fireplace crackling in the corner. I think we read wintry books in winter because they feel more true, and because they offer more hope, than pretending we are in else-seasons.

With that said, here are a few of my favourite wintry books, from Middle Grade and beyond:

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings

As mentioned above, Natasha does an incredible job invoking the cold and the cosy in a swirling delight of a debut!

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

This is probably one of my favourite books altogether, readable in all seasons, but it seems at its most powerful in winter.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Need I say more?

Frindleswylde by Lauren O’Hara and Natalia O’Hara

A delightfully snowy story with lovely accompanying illustrations, this picture book captures winter’s harshness and beauty in one fell swoop.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

From the very first chapter, this YA fantasy channels the mystery and magic of winter against the backdrop of an equally magical Prague.

Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup by Me

Is it bad to name your own book as one of your favourite wintry books? Probably. But if I didn’t like my own work, that would be a problem in itself, right? So I’m going for it! And with that said, I vow this year to dive headfirst into winter, armed with the coldest and cosiest books I can find …

Thank you so much for reading! What are some of your go to winter book recommendations? Do you agree with Andy about why it’s so great to read stories set in this season? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Speak very soon,

Amy xxx


Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: goldenbooksgirl@gmail.com | she/her

2 thoughts on “Why do we read books set in winter when winter can be so terribly miserable? By Andy Sagar”

  1. Really enjoyed reading this, thank you Amy. I hope that you feel better soon. I think that my two favourite MG wintery books are Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. Two adult cold & snowy books that I enjoyed many years ago are Snow Falling on Cedars and Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow and then of course winter snow plays a big role in The Secret History 🥶❄️🌨️

    Liked by 1 person

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