Winter is reading season: you can escape the cold and curl up with a good book, it’s an amazing gift to your Secret Santa, and the really important added bonus is having plenty of material to circumnavigate those sometimes awkward conversations with your extended family:
“So, what do you want to do after university?”
“Actually, aunt Margaret, I read this amazing book the other day…”
There are far too many reasons to list. Having hopefully convinced you that reading is the main winter activity you need to get involved in, all that remains is to what to read? But that’s what we’re here for!
We’ve picked out a couple of recommended winter reads for you and hope you enjoy them, happy reading!
The safe bet: Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
Okay, okay, this one has been out for a while and I distinctly remember that one of my friends was gifted this last Christmas, but, hear me out, if you end up in one of those awkward conversations or just run out of things to say this will be the book you wish you had read. Winner of Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards 2018, this book is like an all-inclusive package holiday if you could travel into what it is to be in your 20s – ups and downs included. Packed with #relatable and funny moments it has been dubbed ‘the millennial’s Sex and the City’ but never loses its wonderful honesty and is filled from cover to cover with wisdom. If anyone knows about love (or pretty much life), it’s Dolly Alderton.
The one no one will know: Bad Monkeys – Matt Ruff
Put on your hipster glasses, because chances are you will be the only one at the dinner table that has read this one. Psychological thriller Bad Monkeys is one wild ride: upon her arrest protagonist Jane Charlotte claims to be the member of an elite execution squad (the Bad Monkeys) but the more she recounts her story, the more bizarre it becomes… It’s short and despite not being exactly sweet it’s definitely worth a read nonetheless.
The one that might make you cry: Ways to Live Forever – Sally Nicholls
So this one is technically a children’s book, but that has never stopped any book from being good. Centred around Sam, a young boy with leukaemia and his battle with death in the widest sense, Ways To Live Forever is incredibly uplifting and contains messages that perhaps many of us didn’t know we needed to hear it until they came out of this book’s metaphorical mouth. This is a hot chocolate, and sitting by a window kind of read that you will probably not be able to put down (and that will probably also make you cry).
The one that you can talk to your younger family members about: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
When was the last time you really, really, fell in love with characters in a book? I can almost guarantee that you will fall in love with at least one, if not all, of the fictional humans in this duology. Combining the heist bit of Oceans 11, the fantasy of Game of Thrones and the “squad” of Friends, this two-part young adult book series has it all and will leave you wishing you could somehow travel to Ketterdam. I recommend going into it without looking up the plot first so I will keep quiet here. It also makes the perfect gift for a younger sibling/cousin!
The intellectual classic that will make you existential – Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
Not only is Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf immensely quotable - I mean come on: “His life oscillates, as everyone's does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and thousands.”- but it is also a wonderful reminder that we should be kind to ourselves and accept ourselves for all we are. Torn between wanting to be around people but pushing everyone away because of his superior intellect the novel tells the story of Harry Haller and his journey to making peace with his inner Steppenwolf (wolf) and accepting himself for all he is. Not only will this be one that will make you look smart at the dinner table but it also contains valuable life lessons and is immensely readable. I would recommend this book to everyone ever.
Trigger warning: thoughts of suicide
More books we recommend:
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Educated – Tara Westover
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
Flatshare – Beth O’Leary
Any Ordinary Day – Lee Sales