Winter Reading List: 20 Books for the Cold, Dark Months

winter reading list

Turn off your TV and read books this winter. Why? Because it’s a dark (i.e. moody), cozy (i.e. freezing outside) time of year filled with homecomings, reflection, and spending all day in a super-plush bathrobe.

We compiled the ultimate winter reading list, stripped of the dull holiday classics and packed with cool, fun, and emotional reads every man should dig into.

If you need even more books to digest this season, check out our 2018 reading list and must-reads by female authors.

The Shining by Stephen King

winter reading list the shining book v2

We didn’t add this King “klassic” to our fall reading list (despite its Halloween following) because it’s better suited for the season of snow, especially if your family is taking a trip to a secluded mountain resort. (Just make sure Uncle J leaves his typewriter at home.) Writer and alcoholic Jack Torrance takes his wife and kid to a hotel in the Colorado Rockies to become the seasonal caretaker. A winter storm leaves them stuck as supernatural forces provoke madness and hauntings.

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Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

winter reading list world  the ingenuity of animal survival bookv2

Ever wonder how bears, insects, and squirrels survive in the winter? Bernd Heinrich gives an extremely detailed account of the wild evolutionary methods animals have developed to get through the season in Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, taken from his own experience bunking up with deer, mice, bugs, and other critters in an isolated cabin in Maine.

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Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman

winter reading list fargo rock city  a heavy metal odyssey in rural north dakota book

When we city dwellers return to our small-town homes over winter break, memories get dug up. In a flash, your hometown makes you feel like that same snot-nosed teenager smoking pot behind the gas station and blasting metal. While you visit home for the holidays, read the hilarious, witty, and highly relatable Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota by Chuck Klosterman, his funny memoir of growing up “a shameless metalhead” in rural North Dakota. If you liked/loved/worshipped Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil, read it now.

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

winter reading list the catcher in rye book

Yes, this J.D. Salinger classic is on our list of books you have to read (or re-read) in 2018, but it’s also our go-to Christmas novel over A Christmas Carol because it reminds us to maintain a child-like wonderment for life (and not be such a Scrooge). Set in New York City during Christmastime, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield recounts the aimless city wanderings that led to his nervous breakdown. If you ever feel alone during the holidays or misunderstood by the people you are around, you have to pick this up.

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Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

winter reading list into thin air book

You think your apartment is cold? Time to reassess. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster is the nonfiction account of a rogue storm that stranded a group of Mount Everest climbers and eventually resulted in what is known as the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Eight climbers died en-route to the summit, largely due to slacked safety precautions causes by the competitiveness of rivaling guide agencies. Jon Krakauer was there, on the mountain, on a magazine assignment when the climb turned ill-fated. So no, your apartment isn’t as cold as you think.

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

winter reading list in cold blood book

Oh, you thought this list was going to be merry and bright? Winter weather calls for dark, true crime if you ask me. This Truman Capote nonfiction novel details (with literary brilliance) the murder of a small farm family in 1959 and the execution of the killers by the state of Kansas. Gruesome yet beautifully written, the book has been deemed a masterpiece. Plus, it’s so not a summer pool read.

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The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

winter reading list the snowy day book

Lighten the mood with this classic kids picture book (so what, we love it) that should hold a spot on your bookshelf or your coffee table because it’s art, gentlemen. A boy wakes up to snowfall and celebrates the dusted winter wonderland with a walk around the city. The book also makes you appreciate the next blizzard instead of cursing the roads and slush.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

winter reading list the girl with dragon tattoo book

One of the best thrillers ever written (and way better than the Americanized film), Stieg Larsson sets his family saga murder mystery against the icy city and countryside of Sweden. Tattooed punk Lisbeth Salander is hired by journalist Mikael Blomkvist to solve a buried disappearance that eventually exposes corruption and murder. You can literally feel the icicles forming on your eyelashes reading these cool chapters.

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Cocktail Codex by Alex Day, David Kaplan, and Nick Fauchald

winter reading list the cocktail codex book

Stock up on Angostura bitters, lemon, sugar, and booze, and hunker down for a long lesson in mixing the best craft cocktails you’ll ever make. Alex Day and David Kaplan, co-owners of Death & Company, as well as writer/editor Nick Fauchald teach you the Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions, sharing recipes and mixing methods directly from the barback of his iconic cocktail haunts. Yes, this counts as reading. Think of it as the only textbook you’ll want to own.

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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

You know how the world gets quiet when it snows and you feel you’ve been transported to another planet? Reading Norwegian Wood is like that. Toru Watanabe narrates us through a nostalgic story of his days as a college student in Tokyo and falling in love with a troubled girl, Naoko, who is committed to a snowy mountain asylum after the suicide of her and Toru’s mutual friend. The novel provokes joy, sadness, and remembrance, making it perfect to close out the year.

winter reading list norwegian wood by haruki murakami book

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The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield

winter reading list the search for god and guinness book

Did you know the heavenly Irish dry stout we know as Guinness was created on December 31, 1759? Learn the rich history of how Guinness developed from a humble family brew to one of the most recognized brands in the world. It’s ok if you don’t like “literary” books — you’ll still like The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World.

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I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne

winter reading list i am ozzy book

The Prince of Darkness celebrates his unhappy birthday on December 3 and to honor the Black Sabbath icon we’re picking up his autobiography, I Am Ozzy. Great title, Ozzy, great title. Honestly, this book could be a compilation of mumblings and we’d still love reading it, but surprisingly (and with much ghostwriter help, no doubt) the book is fun, well-written, honest, and reads like you’re speaking directly to the badass himself. For instance, Ozzy writes of a teenage burglary streak that landed him in prison: “I nicked a 24-inch telly. But the fucking thing was too heavy for me to carry, and when I was climbing over the back wall it fell on my chest and I couldn’t move for about an hour. I was just lying there in this ditch full of nettles, feeling like a twat.” After reading, watch this on repeat.

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Theater of the World by Thomas Reinersten Berg

winter reading list theater of the world book

I mean, technically you read maps. The visual exploration that is Theater of the World: The Maps that Made History makes for the perfect bonding experience with you and your pops, where you can both grunt in agreement and say little else. Feast your eyes on the vibrant history of mapmaking and its illustrated evolution across centuries. Best enjoyed amongst history buffs in a cigar-filled study with leather armchairs. If you need more suggestions for coffee table-worthy books, we’ve got you covered.

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When You’re Done With Those, Read These

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. For those snowed-in evenings of solitude and distance.
  • Ariel by Silvia Plath. Poetry that is bleak yet cutting. Like dropping a flaming matchbook into a pile of snow. Winter mood times 1,000.
  • The Disasters by M.K. England. A brand-new book that will be released December 18, 2018. We usually rely on the classics, but this YA-readability novel is described as The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy. If there’s any season to be more of a kid, it’s now, because reading doesn’t have to hurt your brain.
  • The Gift of the Magi by O Henry. Short story. Still counts. You can also find it free online.
  • Satan Burger by Carlton Mellick III. If you’re so not into holiday cheer, and if you loved Castle Rock on Hulu. Absurd punk literature with dark surrealism.
  • Love Letters of Great Men by John C. Kirkland. A cuffing season essential.
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Because winter is here.
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