Cozy, non-cheesy, well-written, wintertime fiction
December 2, 2015 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend fiction set in winter that will make me feel cozy? Also I am a snob so it needs to be not super cheesy (I tried The Mistletoe Promise, couldn't get past this) and fairly well-written.

Bonus points if it involves winter holidays.

The Redwall series worked for me when I was a kid. Adorable animals eating fabulous meals in an abbey? Yes! But I'm looking for books for adults.

Some other books that work for me:
A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Christmas Carol
Little Women

But more recent recommendations would be great!
posted by last_fall to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Skipping Christmas
posted by BWA at 6:20 PM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maeve Binchy has a good one. And Stuart McLean's Vinyl Christmas.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:32 PM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you accept Little Women as cozy and wintry, then I think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn will suit you well.
posted by telegraph at 6:44 PM on December 2, 2015

I feel like I recommend these every couple of weeks, but the adult-oriented version of adorable fantasy animals doing wintertime holiday stuff does sound a bit like Seanan McGuire's Velveteen books. The pull quotes at that link address the apparent cheesiness but actual depth and maturity of the series. Holidays are a significant recurring theme--Santa Claus is a tertiary character who takes on an even more prominent role in some of the (slightly darker) uncollected stories.

I'll also suggest Jerome K. Jerome's Told After Supper, though as a parody of Christmas-themed ghost stories it's further from the mark--just fun.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:49 PM on December 2, 2015

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin is a fantasy novel, but the descriptions of New York City are utterly magical.
posted by Otter_Handler at 6:55 PM on December 2, 2015 [10 favorites]

How about a book-length poem? John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll."
posted by FencingGal at 7:06 PM on December 2, 2015

Every winter I reread Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, which is set in England around Christmas. (I love all the books but if you only read one of the series, this is probably the one to read.) It's beautiful and spare and full of imagery about the cold and the winter and singing carols.

For what it's worth, this person agrees with me.
posted by PussKillian at 7:07 PM on December 2, 2015 [13 favorites]

I was just going to ask this question after reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (pen name of JK Rowling.) I don't even like mysteries but I loved this one - beautiful descriptions of London in winter.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed Still Life, the first Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny (Penney?). Set in Canada, right around Christmas. A mystery. Not the most amazing literature, but enjoyable nonetheless.
posted by bookworm4125 at 7:53 PM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you are up for a children's book, LM Boston's The Children of Green Knowe is a classic that always made me feel cozy (please ignore whatever Amazon is saying about "thrilling and chilling" - it's not spooky or horrifying at all).
posted by gingerest at 7:56 PM on December 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Rosamunde Pilcher's Winter Solstice is pretty good (cozy Scottish Christmas), David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice is fun, the Little Match Girl is nice if you need a good cry, and Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory (also a short story) is not so cozy but good.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2015

Seconding Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale
posted by Mchelly at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2015

Nearly all the Little House books include wintry things. The Long Winter is obvious, but I also really love These Happy Golden Years when Almanzo is driving Laura back and forth to the Brewster School in the tiny sled, and everyone has sleighing parties.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:00 PM on December 2, 2015

The Anne of Green Gables series has several lovely winter / Christmas interludes and the books are emotionally very cozy, especially 1 through 4.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:02 PM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis gives me that feeling. I reread it every year.
posted by Kriesa at 9:50 PM on December 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Winter's Tale was the first book that came to mind. It also has one of the funniest chapters I've ever read.
posted by Gusaroo at 9:59 PM on December 2, 2015

Arthur Ransome's series of Swallows & Amazons books includes one called Winter Holiday which is very wintry and very cozy.

The Dulce Domum chapter of The Wind in the Willows was always popular in my family around wintertime too.

Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt is also a very wintry book and though it has its tensions, is overall a cozy read.

I see all of these are children's/YA books. There is something about adult fiction set in winter that seems to evoke bleakness rather than coziness - I can think of half a dozen off the top of my head that are anything but cozy.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:06 PM on December 2, 2015

There is a lovely book of short stories by Miss Read which fits the bill from my perspective:

Christmas at Fairacre, which contains two of my favourite books: No Holly for Miss Quinn and The Christmas Mouse.

I read this in the run up to Christmas to "get me in the mood" and it never fails to charm me.
posted by car01 at 1:57 AM on December 3, 2015

Last year an anthology from a group of fairly well known YA authors came out, called My True Love Gave To Me. It ranges in variety from super sweet midnight NYE kisses to "dude, don't piss off Krampus." Don't let the fact that they're traditionally YA authors spoil this for you, I found the majority of them to be heartwarming. (FWIW, I read this at the beach this summer, and was suitably charmed despite my setting. I'm going to crack it back out over my holiday break in fact.)
posted by librarianamy at 4:31 AM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Snow Queen and Other Winter Tales. These are all public domain, but look at that cover!
posted by BibiRose at 5:02 AM on December 3, 2015

Something very special about winter in Japan too. Snow Country. The Salaryman's Wife. I'm sure there are tons more.
posted by BibiRose at 5:10 AM on December 3, 2015

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle - Arthur Conan Doyle
One of the more heartwarming Sherlock Holmes stories, set at Christmas. (The Granada TV adaptation is also well worth watching.)
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 5:11 AM on December 3, 2015

Last post for now, I promise. Cute little retro house-party mystery by Tasha Alexander. Anne Perry comes out with Christmas books almost every year.
posted by BibiRose at 5:17 AM on December 3, 2015

Seconding the Connie Willis short story collection. I don't know that all of the stories fit your requirements, but "Miracle" and "Inn" definitely do.
posted by gudrun at 7:33 AM on December 3, 2015

Good, good mysteries, very well written with winter settings:

Gorky Park
Smilla's Sense of Snow
(and I second The Silkworm)

The Snow Child -- beautifully written, powerful
Snow, by Orhan Panuk

Don't miss The Snow Queen, one of Hans Christian Anderson's most memorable fairy tales.

And the Cold War setting may be dated -- or is it? -- but Ice Station Zebra is a truly fun read.
posted by bearwife at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2015

Nina Beachcroft - Cold Christmas. Children's book, ghost story.
posted by paduasoy at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2015

And In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Mystery. I read this in the summer and temporarily forgot the heat.
posted by paduasoy at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2015

So many great suggestions, thank you! (And more are welcome!)
Many I've read before and forgotten about so those will be especially cozifying.
posted by last_fall at 9:03 PM on December 3, 2015

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