It’s currently 4° outside and I’m bundled up in a blanket with a cup of green tea next to me. It might surprise you to know that I absolutely love this weather, no matter how sick I get. And my favourite thing to do with this kind of icy weather? Read books! More specifically, I love to binge a whole book series over the space of a weekend, especially when it’s cold and raining outside.
Around this time of the year, I always see recommendation posts for summer reads, so I thought it would be a good idea to rec some winter reads for those of us in the southern hemisphere! All the books in this post match the tone for winter — so that means its either set in winter or elicits that quiet feel you get during winter. You’ll see what I mean.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Starting this rec list off with something a bit obvious (the whole series is set in winter), but still definitely a series I wholeheartedly recommend! I adore each and every character in this fantastic world, but Daenerys Targaryen is my favourite (along with her ancestor Rhaenys). This series also contains the most incredible world building I’ve ever read in my life — Martin has created a universe that spans 8000 years and you will be hooked to the page as he describes this powerful universe.
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi’s YA series is pretty awesome and super bingeable. Some of the books take place over winter, but the best reason to read this series is because its dystopian and the relationships between the characters is *kisses fingers*. Also Juliette and Warner are freaking God tier.
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden
If you like the freezing Russian countryside, magical realism and a badass female main character, this series is for you! I love the inclusion of magical creatures, its so naturally added to everyday Russian life in the 13th century. History and magic, yes please!
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.
But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…
The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Oh boy, I love this series! While it’s not set during winter, this series is still perfect to read during winter because you need all your concentration for it — so when its a rainy day, make a hot chocolate and binge this series!
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Criminal Intentions series by Cole McCade
With such a big series like this, you need the colder months where you’re not doing as much to really sit there and read and appreciate these books! If you love crime and queer romance, this series is for you!
Baltimore homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji has his own way of doing things: quiet, methodical, logical, effective, not always particularly legal. He’s used to working alone—and the last thing he needs is a new partner ten years his junior.
Especially one like Seong-Jae Yoon.
Icy. Willful. Detached. Stubborn. Seong-Jae is all that and more, impossible to work with and headstrong enough to get them both killed…if they don’t kill each other first. Foxlike and sullen, Seong-Jae’s disdainful beauty conceals a smoldering and ferocious temper, and as he and Malcolm clash the sparks between them build until neither can tell the difference between loathing and desire.
But as bodies pile up at their feet a string of strange, seemingly unrelated murders takes a bizarre turn, leading them deeper and deeper into Baltimore’s criminal underworld. Every death carries a dangerous message, another in a trail of breadcrumbs that can only end in blood.
Malcolm and Seong-Jae must combine their wits against an unseen killer and trace the unsettling murders to their source. Together, they’ll descend the darkest pathways of a twisted mind—and discover just how deep the rabbit hole goes. And if they can’t learn to trust each other?
Neither will make it out alive.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
This series is so atmospheric, so it’s a perfect read for winter. The magic is confusing but its supposed to be, but the characters!! Y’all if you want some characters that you will love for the rest of your life, look no further.
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Oh I love this series! If you want an epic villain origin story, then this is the story for you. Villain = darkness = winter. Yeah I went there. Anyway, Adelina Amouteru is the best villain in the world and she deserves everything.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
Kria series by Megan Derr
Ignore the horrible covers, these books are amazing. Each book follows a different couple, but all set in the same universe, years apart. I love the intriguing worldbuilding, the characters (!!) and the winter setting. Seriously an amazing series with unforgettable characters. Read it!
Blurb for book 1:
A man whom all men fear…
General Dieter von Adolwulf has led the Scarlet Army of Kria to victory for the past decade, holding the infamous field known as the Regenbogen against Kria’s hated enemies—the deceptive Illussor and the ruthless Salharans. War has waged between the three nations for longer than anyone can remember, but no one has held the Regenbogen as well as the notorious Wolf of Kria and his fearsome army.
A man who fears nothing…
Returning home at the end of the year, the Scarlet Army is attacked in the dead of night by a single man who manages to kill hundreds before he is finally captured. A Salharan soldier with no name, no purpose but to kill, he refuses to bend to the Wolf who takes him prisoner and forces upon him a despicable Krian name.
A man with nothing to lose…
When the rest of his army is slaughtered by Illussor soldiers desperately seeking his prisoner, Dieter determines to hold fast—both for answers and in revenge for the men he lost. But answers and revenge are hard to come by when surrounded by secrets and treachery, and the man least likely to kill him is the prisoner who most wants him dead.
The Wicker King & The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
These are two standalone books but I couldn’t choose just one to put on this list so I went with both K. Ancrum’s novels. Both books, while completely different, have the same atmospheric feel and are a perfect read for when it’s snowing outside … not that it snows in Australia, but you know what I mean. If you’re into strange queer books, read these!
Blurb for The Wicker King:
When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
Blurb for The Weight of the Stars:
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .
Tales from Verania by TJ Klune
This is probably one of my most favourite book series of all time, so PLEASE READ IT! It’s got a magical talking gay unicorn who is obsessed with sex and in a weird sexual relationship with a dragon, the chosen one trope who is an ultra powerful wizard but a softe cinnamon roll and who’s ridiculously in love with his douchebag knight boyfriend, and the sweetest half-giant you’ll ever meet. If this doesn’t make you want to read this comedy series, I don’t know what will!
Blurb for book 1:
Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.
When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.
At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or so he thinks.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The only time to read a massive 600-page book is during winter and you know it, so the best book to start with is The Secret History. Its such a haunting book about a group of toxic friends mixed in with Greek mythology, so if you’re a gay nerd who loves mythology, read this!
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
If you’re in a blue mood this winter (get it?) and want a good cry, Words in Deep Blue is a good book to read. It’s an Aussie book so reading an Aussie book during an Aussie winter would be a perfect choice!
This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
A graphic novel about the power of storytelling and a f/f romance — why wouldn’t you want to read this? The artwork is in all blues and whites and yellows, so it has a soft winter feel to it.
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.
But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.
Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu
This graphic novel is about hockey! Hockey! Ice! Winter? Yep! Anyway, I adore this webcomic and I can’t wait for the next volume because its incredible and funny and soft. The romance 😭.
Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!
Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.
These Vicious Masks series by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Like I said, winter is the perfect time to binge read a series and this one is quick and fun and magical! It’s like the x-men in 19th century Britain and yes, its as amazing as it sounds.
Blurb for book 1:
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
This book is so atmospheric and wonderful, it gives me chills. I’ve been wanting to reread it again because its quite easy to read and binge in one sitting, and you should too! The characters are amazing and I adore them!
Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying. When she’s not studying, she’s up in her room making fan art for her favorite podcast, Universe City.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As. But no one knows he’s the creator of Universe City, who goes by the name Radio Silence.
When Frances gets a message from Radio Silence asking if she’ll collaborate with him, everything changes. Frances and Aled spend an entire summer working together and becoming best friends. They get each other when no one else does.
But when Aled’s identity as Radio Silence is revealed, Frances fears that the future of Universe City—and their friendship—is at risk. Aled helped her find her voice. Without him, will she have the courage to show the world who she really is? Or will she be met with radio silence?
How many books have you read? What books do you think are best read during winter? Let me know!