Snowman holding a stack of books, surrounded by snowflakes. Autumn and winter are the perfect seasons to curl up with a good comfort book.  Illustration by Hannah Nellen

As the world around us gets colder and darker, it becomes the perfect time to start picking up books that are full of warmth and light. Whether you’re a lover of the classics, contemporary fiction, romance, or nonfiction, there is a book just waiting to bring joy into your life. In anticipation of a wonderfully cozy winter break, we bring you some of our favorite comforting and wintry books.

For “Hocus Pocus” fans and witch-lovers alike, “The Wicked Deep” by Shea Ernshaw is a transitional book for the part of the year when fall becomes winter. The book follows Penny in the misty town of Sparrow. As summer break approaches so does the anticipation for the witch Swan Sisters to return to mortal bodies. As the anniversary of the Swan witch sisters arrives, havoc is once again wreaked upon the town of Sparrow. As bodies start bobbing in the water, so does Penny’s hope of finding the witch sisters, but nothing is as it seems. Like Ernshaw’s other book,“Winterwood,” the plots and characters were not the deepest, but the plot twist in “The Wicked Deep” was not expected, making the ending more enjoyable. The overall plot of the book was very dark, spooky, and autumnal. It was a pretty quick read and definitely recommended for the winter season.

When wanting to escape your world as the rain continues to fall, “A Winter’s Promise” by Christelle Dabos is a great fantasy read. The book takes place in a world of islands known as “The Rupture.” The islands are known as the Arks and each has a unique relationship to time. Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls. Beneath her worn scarf and thick glasses, she hides the ability to read and communicate with the souls of objects, and the power to travel through mirrors. Her peaceful existence on the Ark of Anima is disrupted when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, a member of the powerful Dragon clan. Ophelia must leave the safety of her home as she becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. Although the plot had great potential, the characters felt very one-dimensional, along with most of the dialogue and imagery. I wanted to love this book so badly, but I never fully felt any connection to the characters, so it was pretty hard to read. Overall “A Winter’s Promise” could have been more, but was definitely a winter read. 

No winter book list would be complete without “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. The well known story of the four sisters, whose love endures through growing pains and love triangles, is endearing enough to warm almost anyone’s heart. The way Alcott uses a domestic setting to explore the idea of women as whole people with complicated feelings and desires is powerful and fascinating.  Starting with a cozy winter scene, this book will make up for Portland’s lack of snow in just a few chapters. The romance in this book is complicated and old-fashioned enough to make anyone feel a little iffy, but very worth picking up or dusting off.

If you’re the kind of person who turns to tragedies for comfort, “A Little Life” by Hanyu Yanagihara is the book for you. The book follows four former college classmates as they move to New York to try to figure out their next steps in life. They’re drastically different people, basically all broke, and all a little bit of a mess, and every second of their interactions is both enjoyable and horrifying to read about. All of the characters are interesting but the semi-main character, Jude, has less of a believable back story than the rest of them. There are a few moments where the story’s realisticness is stretched a little thin but they’re easy to move past. “A Little Life” was heartbreaking, but beautifully written, definitely not a joyful light read. We recommend reading all of the content warnings (and there are many) before reading this book, as it covers a variety of difficult topics.

Despite being set in April, “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim is a wonderful winter comfort read. Following the story of four women who spend a month in an Italian castle, escaping their daily lives, this book explores the rediscovering of joy and love. Published in 1922, some of the writing is a little old fashioned and the characters are slightly more difficult to relate to. Despite this, it is a short and readable lesser-known classic. If you’re looking for a book to bring some light and magic into the dark winter months, this is the perfect choice. 

If you have any suggestions, reactions, or additional opinions on books that you want to share with us, we welcome all emails sent to bookworms.fhspost@gmail.com.

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