Best novels/short stories set in winter and snowy settings?
February 24, 2023 1:17 PM   Subscribe

What are some well written novels/short stories that are set during the winter with snow if any?
posted by RearWindow to Writing & Language (50 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh, you can have Joyce's The Dead for a start.
posted by vincebowdren at 1:25 PM on February 24 [9 favorites]

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin.

It's gloriously weird magic realism with Gilded Age New York stuff and time travel and a magic horse, and the author's other work is...not to everyone's taste, but I was absolutely entranced by this. (The movie based on it apparently was kinda bad, I hear, fair warning.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on February 24 [9 favorites]

Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I love both very much - the first is suspenseful, and understanding snow is key. The second is magical realism in Alaska.
posted by quadrilaterals at 1:38 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]

The Shining, of course. If you’ve only seen the movie, the book is a bit different and many chapters deal with snow and cold and the isolation of the hotel.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:41 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:41 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde, weird and funny like all his books.
posted by bijou243 at 1:50 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]

The first few that come to mind, mostly horror because that's my main area of interest:

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (horror, ghosts)

All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes (horror, ghosts, antarctic exploration)

At the Mountains of Madness by H P Lovecraft (horror, ancient alien cities, warnings for racism - wait, no, you said "well-written" not just "cold and snowy")

Who Goes There? by John W Campbell (horror, aliens)

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin (sci-fi, explorations of alien cultures and concepts of gender)

Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell (queer romance, space opera)
posted by darchildre at 2:03 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]

"To Build a Fire" by Jack London (1908)
posted by alex1965 at 2:03 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]

Jack London To Build a Fire. Ditto alex1965 with added full text.
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:05 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]

Little House: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Also Chapter 3 of Winnie-the-Pooh, In which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.
posted by Rash at 2:15 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]

Angela Carter "The Snow Pavilion" (link to PDF)

The Breath of the Sun, a science fiction kind of novel about a woman in a sort of early modern society who went on an expedition to climb a sacred mountain. It's more about science and early modernity than about fantasy qua fantasy. It is extremely snowy.
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
posted by bluedaisy at 2:48 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

The novel Snow (Turkish: Kar) by Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk.
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:51 PM on February 24

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:53 PM on February 24 [11 favorites]

Dr Zhivago
posted by memoryindustries at 2:53 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
posted by matkline at 2:55 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]

Ice by Anna Kaven (1967) is relentlessly wintery.
posted by jabah at 2:55 PM on February 24

The short story Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy is a banger.
posted by caek at 2:56 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
posted by belladonna at 2:59 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

A very very beautiful recent book set in bitter cold weather is Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These, can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by Lluvia at 3:01 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]

Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series is set in Canada and has several books that take place in snowy winter time.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:14 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

68:Hazard:Cold is a delightful wintry tale about robots and connecting.
posted by crossswords at 3:50 PM on February 24

2nding To Build a Fire, Left Hand of Darkness, and Mountains of Madness.

Adding The Terror by Dan Simmons - frozen horror while trying to find the NW passage. Quite thrilling.

Kind of a riff, but the central crime in The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, an amazing Japanese honkaku mystery, takes place in a snowy situation. For that matter, same for John Dickson Carr's The Three Coffins and The Hollow Man. Hake Talbot's Rim of the Pit is another classic locked room, very much a snowy mystery in a cabin. Turns out snow is a great way to set up (or misdirect) in a locked-room mystery!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:35 PM on February 24

The last sections of T. C. Boyle's Drop City are set in Alaska. The cold and snow and their effects on the lives of the characters are vividly described and make an important element of the plot.
posted by JonJacky at 4:48 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

Bellweather Rhapsody, which is very much in conversation with The Shining. A massive snowstorm threatens to trap a group of high school musicians in a hotel.

The Raven and the Reindeer is a wonderful riff on Hans Christian Andersen’s "Snow Queen" and thus features lots and lots of snow.
posted by earth by april at 5:08 PM on February 24

Many of Farley Mowat's books are set in the (snowy) Canadian north, e.g., Never Cry Wolf, The Snow Walker (link is to the film version), The People of the Deer.
posted by bricoleur at 5:34 PM on February 24

Winter's Bone, by Daniel Woodrell.
posted by TrishaU at 5:36 PM on February 24

"Cold Wind" — a short story by Nicola Griffith.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 6:03 PM on February 24

“The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven,” a first novel by Nathaniel Ian Miller, takes place mostly in Svalbard.
posted by baseballpajamas at 6:06 PM on February 24

James Dickey's To the White Sea.

And parts of Denis Johnson's Train Dreams.
posted by dobbs at 6:35 PM on February 24

The Taiga Syndrome by Christina Rivera Garza
posted by sepviva at 7:23 PM on February 24

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
posted by staggernation at 8:05 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin.
posted by RGD at 9:43 PM on February 24

"The Painted Door" by Sinclair Ross, about snow, winter, and infidelity.
Ole Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth about Norwegian immigrants in Minnesota. Sod houses in winter. Some can't handle it.
The Track of the Cat by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. (Don't miss the first "The".) Snowbound folks in the mountains of Nevada, passionate feelings, and a killer cougar.
posted by CCBC at 9:59 PM on February 24

Also "The Pederson Kid" by William H. Gass and Tove Jansson's The True Deceiver.
posted by RGD at 10:00 PM on February 24

Rick Moody's The Ice Storm
posted by brujita at 10:22 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]

City of Thieves by David Benioff.
posted by vunder at 10:50 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]

For the romance “snowed-in” trope, there’s a thread with recommendations at smartbitchestrashybooks, and another on “inclement weather, forced proximity”.
posted by meijusa at 12:24 AM on February 25

Romantic thriller Whiteout by Adriana Anders takes place in Antarctica during the winter. (I think its related book Survival Instincts also takes place in winter.)
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:07 AM on February 25

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.
posted by pipstar at 4:47 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
posted by BibiRose at 7:32 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]

Winter Holiday set and written in the 1920's is a kids book about an imaginative bunch of kids playing at being arctic explorers.

Moominland Midwinter is another story for kids.

Gorky Park is the first of the Arkady Renko detective novels by Martin Cruz Smith

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett's Christmas themed Discworld novel.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

Erased is a manga about a man who travels back to his childhood self to try to stop a child killer, who started a spree of murders by killing one of his classmates as she lingered after dark in a snowy park.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, a feminist retelling of the Norse legends
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:59 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Winter’s Bone is excellent.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:34 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]

Iain Reid, I'm Thinking of Ending Things
posted by Beardman at 4:48 PM on February 25

Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter.
posted by Hypatia at 5:43 PM on February 25

I really dug The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney.
posted by quintessence at 1:57 AM on February 26

Not sure what you mean by "if any" but A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote always comes to mind for me when winter hits.
posted by knile at 9:04 AM on February 26

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:34 AM on February 26

The Cage by Audrey Schulman -- you will want a blanket even if you read it on the beach in July. Spectacularly evocative, and a gripping story to boot.
posted by apparently at 2:11 PM on February 26

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