35 Winter Books for Moms: Holiday reads, winter classics, and family faves

Written by Michelle Watson

November 12, 2023

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Baby, it’s cold outside—but you’re warm as can be, burrowed under a blanket with a page-turner, snug as a bug in a rug. 

There’s nothing cozier than reading in winter. 

Now all you need is a good story to snuggle with. 

Here are my favorite winter books for moms. These aren’t all necessarily SET during the winter season, although many are. But, I feel like the subject matter is well-suited to frosty days or the holiday ether. Also, I included a few books that I haven’t personally read but that seem to have been well-received by other readers that I admire—hope that’s okay!

I’ve divided these winter books into the categories below. Click one of those headings to jump straight to that section of the booklist. I hope there’s a little something for everyone!

Merry Mysteries 

Add another log to the fire and spend an evening curled up with a holiday whodunnit. I picked winter books for moms who like their mysteries softer, but there are a few on the list that lean into thriller.

A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer (pioneer of the regency romance genre) takes us to a wintry country house, where a holiday gathering takes a turn for the worse. Their much-hated host has been murdered, and it must be someone in the house. 

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

When a wealthy father summons all four of his sons home for the holidays, the family reunion is anything but merry. The fastidious, brilliant Poirot must decide who murdered the cranky patriarch.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The classic cold-weather mystery novel. When a murder happens on a train, the killer must be one of the passengers. A deep cast of characters are each questioned, and we, the readers, get to see how well our powers of deduction stand up against the observant Poirot. 

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

This legal mystery unfolds on a snow-covered Pacific Northwest island, exploring themes of love, prejudice, and justice. This new classic is about as atmospheric as it gets.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

If you want something grittier with mafia vibes, try this one. Set in the Ozarks during winter, this novel follows an unflinching teenage girl on a mission to find her missing father, unraveling dark family secrets along the way.

Cute Wintry Romances to Melt Your Heart

Christmas romances are a dime a dozen, but I hope these books bring you something more substantial than just Hallmark vibes. Romance novels are among the most popular winter books for moms—for good reason. They’re heartwarming!

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

This cute romance novel invites readers into a snowy Nantucket inn, blending family drama and holiday warmth as secrets unravel against a winter wonderland. If you love it, good news. It’s the first in a series.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

When Sam, a school librarian, meets the newly hired principal, Duncan, she realizes that they’ve met before—but he’s changed and not for the better. Part of the story takes place during winter break, serving up a seasonal backdrop to some of the action.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

This YA novel is a modern-day Scrooge story with a supernatural twist. Holly Chase is one of the ghosts assigned to save the world’s grinches from their small-hearted fate, but she’s not all that good at her afterlife job. 

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry

Here’s another modern-day retelling of A Christmas Carol. Jake and Marlee are on the brink of divorce. They go to bed on Christmas Eve in separate rooms, but that night, they are visited by three ghosts that show them whatz up. 

Historical Fiction (Just Add Hot Cocoa)

These recommendations are great winter books for moms who love to travel back in time and learn about far-flung global locales. You’ll find a wide variety of settings and time periods here.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

If you’re looking for a Christmas book that you can read in one or two sittings, pick this one! This is a thought-provoking, literary morsel that packs a lot of meaning into a small package. This is a great choice for a December book club, where you don’t want a long read, yet you DO want something substantial to discuss.

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Set in the Canadian far north, this novel follows Kathy, a tender town girl, and her marriage to heroic Mike, a Canadian Mounty. The book encompasses all seasons, but, naturally, there is a lot of snow in this one—and raw love that will have absolutely no mercy on you.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

One night in Alaska, a childless couple makes a snowgirl…and she comes to life—maybe? We’re not really sure. This is a sweet, snowy book that explores what it means to love and be loved.

Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher

A group of five people meet on the shortest day of the year in a neglected Scottish estate on the coast. When they leave, they will never be the same.

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee

It’s nearly 1950, and Korea is on the verge of civil war. Young Sora lives with her family in the north. Should they flee to the south, risking death in order to gain freedom? Or should they stay put and hope for the best? I loved this middle-grade heart-wrencher. 

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan Henry

Patti Callahan Henry imagines what would happen if a young Oxford student approached the great professor C. S. Lewis and asked him, “Where did Narnia come from?” This book’s climax happens at Christmas, making it a sweet holiday read.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Two estranged sisters return home one winter to be at the bedside of their sick father. The only problem is that they must face their icy mother. With the help of a fairy tale, the two girls begin to unbutton their mother’s past. 

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

For me, the ’90s meant Doc Martens and flannel shirts, but for Ruta Sepetys’s protagonist, it means getting blackmailed into becoming an informer for the secret police in communist Romania. In order to preserve his integrity, he becomes a double-agent.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

Charles Dickens gave us one of the most famous and heartwarming Christmas stories known to man. But what was life like for the great writer when he put his pen to this story? Samantha Silva imagines him up to his eyeballs in debt and desperately in need of a bestseller. 

Winter Classics for Snow Days

Here are a few recommendations if you enjoy literary classics that you can really sink your teeth into. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

If you haven’t read this one yet, then THIS is the year you do! It’s short and free audio versions abound. 

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This tragic tale unfolds in the wintry setting of Starkfield, Massachusetts, where Ethan Frome ekes out a life with his unbearable wife. When his wife’s cousin comes to live with them, she’s a breath of fresh air and joy. Thus begins a wretched love triangle. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This book famously opens on Christmas Eve, with the four March sisters wondering what the next day will bring. We’re fortunate enough to see what the next several years bring for these lovable girls as they mature into women. 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Become immersed in the upper crust society of late-nineteenth-century Russia. Anna embarks on a disastrous love affair with a wealthy army officer, and we see what it means to be flawed and human. This one is incredibly long, so there are enough pages to sustain you through the entire winter season. 

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

Okay, I threw this one in here because it has the word “winter” in the title. But seriously, I can guarantee that this book will be unlike any that you’ve ever read before. Think I’m bluffing? Read it and see!

Enchanting Sci-Fi/Fantasy Picks

Here are a few winter books for moms who are craving an enchanting tale to whisk them off to fairyland—or an alternate universe. This list will give you a steady supply of fantastical worlds to explore all winter long.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

This has got to be one of the strangest and most mind-bending of Rumpelstiltskin retellings. A desperate daughter must live in the ice palace of a frosty wizard and make precious metals for him. Then, it gets even weirder.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Most people describe this book as “Dickens with magic.” Set in Victorian England, two powerful magicians go head to head in order to see whose brand of magic is most potent.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

Do you love Arthurian legend? The first book in the Warlord Chronicles is a retelling of how King Arthur rises to power, not in a merry, magical Camelot, but in a gritty, no-holds-barred Britain. 

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Even though this isn’t exactly set during a blizzard or anything, I’ve heard this classic fantasy by a renowned author is best read during the winter season. It starts with a boy who learns that he has special powers…a tale as old as time, right? Don’t let the cover art fool you—this book is not goofy.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This book deftly weaves Russian folklore and myth into a new tale centered around a disobedient yet talented girl, who has a date with destiny when she crosses paths with Frost. 

Winter Books the Whole Family Will Love

Turn off the TV and turn on an audiobook to unwind with your crew at the end of a cold, wet day. These are great winter books for moms who want to make lasting memories with their kids through shared seasonal stories.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Here’s one book that needs no introduction. It’s the quintessential winter tale, complete with a visit by Father Christmas. 

The Willows in Winter by William Horwood

Have you wished that The Wind in the Willows had a sequel? Well, here you go! Horwood has imagined a new tale for these beloved animal characters, and it’s set in winter.

The Winter King by Christine Cohen

Just like Narnia is trapped in a perpetual winter, Cora’s town never thaws. And her family is cursed. In order to save her mother and siblings, she’ll do just about anything, and this, naturally, brings only trouble.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The sixth installment of the Little House series brings great peril upon the Wilder family when a super-harsh winter puts all of the families on the prairie in peril of starvation. 

The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer

This slim little novella is packed with quandaries that will get your kids thinking. Not to mention gorgeous blackline illustrations (the cover doesn’t do justice to what’s inside). A lonely lighthouse keeper needs someone to fill in for him for a few weeks, and Ronnie’s aunt is going to do it. She wants Ronnie to come with her. It’ll just be for a few days…

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

This colorful novel deals with heavy themes in such a way that you’ll find yourself reading it with a smile on your face. This is another extremely short children’s books that offers a feast of discussable topics. 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

If you can see a stage production of this story, do it! The Herdman kids are notorious brats. When they hear that the local church serves donuts after Sunday school, they show up and get starring roles in the Christmas program. Hilarity ensues.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

From the author of The Secret Garden is another atmospheric riches-to-rags tale. Sara Crewe is sent to a fancy boarding school, but when her father dies, she loses every penny she has. Forced to work as a servant in the school, and cruelly mistreated by the headmistress, Sara never loses her positive spirit, even while enduring a winter of the soul.

What are your favorite winter books?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know what books you enjoy during the holidays or the frigid midwinter.

More along these lines…


  1. Natalie Shawver

    If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler was the weirdest book I’ve ever read in my entire life! LOL … but one of my all-time favorites is Little Women. It’s the ultimate cozy book to me … and I enjoy watching the 90s movie version each holiday season with my mom!

    • Michelle Watson

      Yes! It was just the absolute strangest book! On my college syllabus, of course! I recently learned that Italo Calvino put together one of the most comprehensive books of Italian fairy and folk tales, so I want to get my hands on that. Everyone should be required to read Little Women in order to graduate from life. 😂 It’s so good!


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