10 Books To Battle The Winter Doldrums

This is a tough time of year. The joy of the holidays is behind us, everyone has stopped wishing each other a Happy New Year, and spring is still faaaaar in the distance.

A couple weeks ago, I talked about my total immersion tendencies when it comes to reading: I end up wanting to eat what the characters are eating, listen to the music they like, that sort of stuff. I gave a list of books with wintery settings to help you fully embrace winter, and I hoped it worked!


But that approach isn’t for everyone.

I don’t always know where a book is set, or exactly what it’s about, before I dig in. That means I’m occasionally reading a summery book in winter or vice versa. I don’t particularly care about knowing the setting ahead of time, but I don’t think I’d intentionally seek out a beach book during winter. I’m more inclined to want to read a book set during winter while it’s snowy outside. Perfect example, I’m currently reading The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld, which is based around snowy forests and it has been neat to emerge from the book and look outside to see snow.

So if you’re enjoying winter, you may want to bookmark this list to come back to later in the year. But if you’re reading for a warmer setting, here are some suggestions that might help keep those Winter Blues at bay.


Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

This book was an emotional punch in the gut. It took me right back to my adolescence, first love and heartbreak, and tumultuous female friendships. While it’s not a Young Adult novel, it feels that way at times.


The Vacationers by Emma Straub

This is a nice “beach read” book. It had me engaged the whole time, even though there wasn’t a ton of action. I liked the setting of a vacation to stress the different relationships and individuals. The story was enjoyable and the characters were relateable.



Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

On the surface, this is an exciting thriller about missing children, international travel, and horrible criminals. Deeper than that, this is a beautifully written story of family, privilege, and perseverance. When a group of children disappears while ashore for an adventure in Central America while on a cruise for a family vacation, the three sets of parents are challenged in ways they’ve never faced before. The tale is told from alternating perspectives, as the parents search and the children struggle to return.


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

From Goodreads: As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.


Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

This novel weaves together three stories over the course of one summer. The characters discover their connections to each other and to their wild natural surroundings.


The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

All of the books I’ve read by this author take place in the south, and the humidity is palpable. With a tiny bit of magic mixed into a compelling story and likable characters, this particular novel recalls summer nights perfectly.


Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

From Goodreads: It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women — of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.


Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

At the core of this novel is a lovely story about family, place and what “home” truly means. I found the characters to all be generally bratty and it seems like the author tried to pack in as much drama as possible, which took away from the story. It was a quick easy read and I enjoyed it, even when I was annoyed by the characters’ behavior, particularly Georgia.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

Set on a rocky, sunny Italian coastline, this beautiful novel spans decades. It’s a story of love, passion, and loyalty, all looked back upon through the lens of age and regret.



The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

The first four Young Adult novels take places during a summer when the four friends are on vacation from school. They capture the magic and heartache of adolescence and female friendship perfectly. They’re sweet and honest without being cheesy. The fifth novel catches up with them all ten years later and is geared toward adult readers who have grown up with the girls.

What about you, would you rather read a wintery book in the “right” season, or escape to summer?

Are there any books you’d add to my list?

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