What to Read on Your Sofa in Winter 2016


I don’t know about you, but for me winter is all about staying indoors. Tell me about how satisfying that hike up a mountain in the rain was all you like – all I’m going to want to do with my free time is curl up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of steaming hot tea.

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops outside, I want to retreat towards the warmth and glow of life indoors. It’s not only the thought of getting cold that puts me off going outside; there’s something especially inviting and comforting about being inside when it’s cold out.

Watching the rain through a window, while snuggled on the sofa, is so satisfying. Much more so than a hike, in my opinion! With that in mind, I’ve gathered together a selection of my favourite books to read during the winter. Some are old, and some are new, but all are worth a read. I’ve gathered them together under various headings to help you find ones that you might like, because I’m helpful like that.

So, without further ado, here are my suggestions for what to read during winter 2016. These should see you through until spring, I think…

Essential reading kit

reading kitImage Credit:  Fred Guillory

Okay, so when I said ‘no further ado’, I lied. Before you start picking which books you’ll enjoy this winter, make sure that you have the essentials handy:

  • Flask. Trust me – you just aren’t going to want to get up to make a cup of tea mid-chapter, so making a flask before you start reading is prudent.
  • Blanket. A sumptuous throw or duvet will work just as well – something that will provide warmth and comfort, in any case.
  • Squishy cushions. Whether these are part of your big squidgy sofa, or a separate addition, make sure they are as soft as an angel’s wing so that you can take power naps in between reading if necessary.
  • Chocolate. Or any snack of your choice. You need to keep your sustenance levels up.
  • The right lighting. A good reading lamp that emits just enough of a warm glow to allow you to read without straining your eyes will make a huge difference to your reading experience. Avoid bright, harsh lights, as these can prevent you from properly entering the magical, mystical world of make-believe.

Okay, this really is the book list now – here’s what to read…

To feel festive:

festive booksImage Credit: Bibliotheek Kortrijk

The run up to Christmas can be incredibly busy; so much so that there’s often little time to drum up any feelings of festivity. Make time to invoke that Christmassy feeling this year by curling up on your sofa with these books – preferably also a hot chocolate.

A Visit From St Nicholas – often referred to as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – is the perfect bedtime story on Christmas Eve, whether you’re 5 or 95. What’s even better is that you can find the story for free on the web or for your e-reader, now that it’s in the public domain.

Another brilliant bedtime story, this time with that inimitable animation, is How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss. It offers a great opportunity to show children (or grown-ups who might have forgotten) that Christmas is about more than just presents and food.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something a little more grown-up, then The Greatest Gift is an ideal choice. This wonderfully feel-good short story inspired one of the greatest Christmas films of all time, It’s A Wonderful Life, and it’s a great reminder of the impact our actions have on those around us – and how we may be doing a great deal of good without even realising it.

To make 2016 awesome:

reading on beachImage Credit: Anne Adrian

Let’s face it – New Year’s Resolutions rarely make it past mid-February, usually because we try to do too much. But what if you made a resolution to do just one tiny thing each day to make life better? That’s the idea behind The Book of YOU: Daily Micro-Actions for a Happier, Healthier You.

There are exactly 365 micro-actions for you to complete, one for each day of the year. Each one is really easy and simple to achieve – think “smile at a stranger” or “set a go to sleep alarm” – but together they could help to establish habits that could really improve your life.

For chills and thrills:

thrilling bookImage Credit: Mo Riza

There’s no better time to read a good thriller than during the winter. The combination of pitch black nights, howling wind and driving rain provide the perfect backdrop for a spooky story or a spine-tingling tale, filled with tension and intrigue.

The Ice Twins sees a grief-stricken family of three relocate to a remote Scottish island after one of the twin daughters dies in an accident. The problem is, the surviving twin reveals that her parents have mistaken her identity – she is not Kirstie, as they believed, but Lydia. As Sarah struggles to piece together what happened when one of her daughters died, she feels increasingly isolated.

Another story that plays upon the terrifying theme of isolation, Dark Matter is a haunting and eye-wateringly frightening novel set in 1937. Jack decides to go on the trip of a lifetime to the Arctic, but as his group approach their destination there is a deeply unsettling feeling of dread in the air. Eventually he finds himself alone in perpetual midnight – at least, he thinks he is alone…

One of the most popular books of the year, The Girl on the Train follows the story of Rachel, who, thanks to a twist of fate, sees something shocking while on the commuter train that she travels on each morning. The story is told to the reader by three different women, but which of them can you trust?

For laughs:

funny bookImage Credit: Caitee Smith

When the weather outside is frightful, then read something delightful!

Serving up a large helping of nostalgia along with the laughs, Funny Girl follows beauty queen Barbara Parker as she tries to make a name for herself in comedy in 1960s Britain. Writer Nick Hornby is well known for his endearing and humorous delivery, and this book won’t disappoint.

If your humour leans towards the sarcastic and cutting, then Charlie Brooker’s I Can Make You Hate is the book for you. Brooker launches into a multitude of his characteristically angry rants that are sure to leave even the grumpiest of us chuckling.

For something a little more light-hearted, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a rip roaring, wonderfully eccentric romp. It’s a book that reminds you not to take life too seriously, and is a brilliantly witty, fun and feel-good read.

To satisfy curiosity

curiosityImage Credit: Liza

Fiction is fantastic, but true stories can often be even more fascinating. A good biography can offer insight into stories that we’ve always wanted to know more about.

Hairdressers are possibly the best-informed people in the world, so Maureen Flanagan is well-placed to tell stories about one of the most notorious families in Britain – she did the Krays’ mother’s hair. One of the Family: 40 Years with the Krays is Maureen’s memoir, filled with stories and secrets of an intriguing family and a bygone age.

Whether you’re a fan of the Flying Circus or you loved Fawlty Towers, John Cleese’s autobiography So, Anyway is bound to entertain. Written in his inimitable style, this book is packed with stories from Cleese’s childhood and early years as a comic, when he worked with household names like Peter Sellers and David Frost – and met a certain Graham Chapman.

Okay, so this isn’t technically an ‘autobiography’ (even if it does say ‘genuine’ on the front), but He Who Dares, the story of Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, is a fantastic read nonetheless. Discover all about Del Boy’s childhood, and learn some insider business tips for budding entrepreneurs. This time next year, Rodney…

For a touch of magic:

Book of MagicImage Credit: Randen Pederson

Winter seems to be an especially magical month, particularly when there is snowfall. So what better time to read an otherworldly story?

Telling the story of two young people whose fates are entwined forever, The Night Circus casts a delightful spell over its reader. The stunning imagery alone is reason enough to read, providing endless opportunities for daydreaming – mazes made of clouds, gardens of ice, and the lingering scents of caramel and cinnamon that almost permeate the pages.

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie is epic in its scope, incorporating magic and mysticism from across the globe and taking inspiration from over two millennia of storytelling. A storm hits New York so fiercely that a crack appears in the universe, and an epic battle is waged between humankind and the djinns that enter from beyond.

Terry Pratchett’s finale to the Discworld series, The Shepherd’s Crown, was released six months after his death to great critical acclaim. Pratchett was one of the best fantasy writers of all time, and this book is the perfect finale to the series – filled with humour and innovative ideas as always.

To be immersed in an epic story

epic storyImage Credit: Kyle Taylor

Sometimes, nothing less than a tome will do – the sort of book that is heavy enough to make even the most deeply arachnaphobic of us feel as though we have a serious weapon to use against any eight-legged creatures that find their way into our homes. If you’re ready for a truly epic tale, then these will not disappoint.

The Pillars of the Earth is set in 12th century England, and follows the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral that the world has ever seen. Ken Follett conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of the middle ages fantastically well and the historical accuracy is wonderful, but it is the sheer scope of the story that makes this book such a satisfying read.

We watch many of the characters from childhood into old age, and Follett’s masterful writing ability brings each person to life in such a way that by the end of the novel you’ll feel as if you’ve read a true historical account rather than a work of fiction. Follow up by reading the sequel, World Without End, and then hope and pray that Follett finishes the third in the series soon.

Meanwhile, if you prefer your stories set in the present day, then The Goldfinchmay be more to your taste. This modern day epic tale, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014, follows Theo Decker from the age of 13 when a terrible accident turns his world upside down.

As he struggles to deal with the loss of his mother, one item brings him solace: a small painting, which will unalterably change the course of his life. Donna Tartt’s writing is incredibly evocative and deeply moving, and her characters are superbly vivid. Despite its length, you’ll find that this book won’t take you long to read at all, as you will be incapable of putting it down.

For an air of mystery

Agatha ChristieImage Credit: Peter

If you’re looking for a good whodunit, you really can’t beat Agatha Christie. To mark the 125th anniversary of the beloved crime writer, a global vote was held this year to discover which of over 80 novels and short stories written by Christie is the most popular.

And Then There Were None came out on top, so if you haven’t read any Christie before, then it’s a great place to start. The story follows ten strangers staying in a remote mansion who must discover the murderer among them before it is too late.

With such a huge body of work to choose from, though, you’re bound to find a story to suit you even if this one doesn’t appeal. Check out the World’s Favourite Christie website for further inspiration.


I hope that I’ve provided a little inspiration for your next reading marathon. What are your winter book recommendations? Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

Posted in Lifestyle on 21st Dec 2015


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