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We don’t get it: Beach books are totally a thing, but no one ever asks what we’re reading in the winter. And when snow is piling up outside and you’re stuck at home, a good book is as necessary as bread, milk, wine and toilet paper. We’ve still got plenty of winter left (damn you, Punxsutawney Phil!), so we collected five of our favorite snow-themed novels for whenever the next storm hits.

Warning: These are some chilly reads. Blanket, fireplace and hot cocoa strongly recommended.


"The Snow Child"

This haunting fairy tale of a novel (a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist) takes place in 1920s Alaska, which seems about as cold and lonely a place as we can imagine. Jack and Mabel are a homesteading couple starting anew after the death of a child. They’re just on the verge of losing it (and understandably so) when a mysterious little girl appears in their lives, giving them hope where they had none before. If Gabriel García Márques and Laura Ingalls Wilder had a love child, it would be this sparse, enchanting read.


"Smilla's Sense of Snow"

Smilla Jaspersen is basically the toughest heroine we know. Half Danish and half Eskimo, she grew up in Greenland and is living in Copenhagen when a small boy falls to his death from the roof of her apartment building. The police rule it an accident, but Smilla, looking at his footprints in the snow, isn’t so sure. This international best seller is nearly 25 years old, but it still feels as fresh and absorbing as it did in the ’90s.


"The Ice Storm"

It’s 1973, and in the affluent suburb of New Canaan, Connecticut, swingers parties are as much in fashion as bell-bottoms and muttonchops, even if no one talks about them. When a freak ice storm descends on Thanksgiving weekend, two families are forced to confront the secrets that lie beyond their perfectly manicured lawns. Be sure to check out the 1997 movie, too, with Kevin Kline, Joan Allen and adorably young Tobey Maguire and Katie Holmes. 


"The Snowman"

Move over, Stieg Larsson. The Scandinavian mystery market is big enough for your dragon-tattooed girl and Jo Nesbo’s grumpy, bad-boy hero, Harry Hole. In this 2010 page-turner, which was Nesbo’s American debut, Hole is tracking a serial killer who leaves a signature snowman in the yards of his victims. Brilliantly crafted but totally terrifying, this is best read while there’s still daylight.


"The Secret History"

As far as first lines go, it doesn’t get much more intriguing than this: “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” And the rest of the book--the first by Donna Tartt, of The Goldfinch fame--doesn’t disappoint, either. A smart, utterly addictive psychological thriller set over the course of a dark New England winter, it just might be the best snow-day read ever.

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