5 Books Set in Cold Places to Curl Up With This Winter

IMG_3884Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.  And what makes a cold winter evening even better is a good book to curl up with (and perhaps also a glass or two of amaretto and ice). When the wind is howling and sleet lashing the window, snuggle into your favourite tartan jammies, and read all about the ice and snow from the warmth and comfort of your armchair.  With the radio playing softly in the background, lights sparkling on the Christmas tree, and someone bringing warm mince pies occasionally, I can’t think of a more perfect way to enjoy the books below.


The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

In the introduction to this book, Cherry-Garrard notes: Polar Exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time that has been devised. As the youngest member of the team accompanying Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole, Cherry-Garrard was one of only three survivors, and part of the rescue mission that discovered the frozen bodies of his colleagues. His account pieces together diary extracts from other team members, adding details of scientific endeavours and anecdotes of resilience and endurance in the frozen south.

Buy it here.

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich

Long fascinated by the icy landscapes and exotic culture, Ehrlich travels extensively in Greenland, meeting people walking the line between a traditional way of life and modern development. She draws heavily on the journals of Danish-Greenlandic explorer Knud Rasmussen from the 1920s and 30s, retracing expeditions by kayak and dogsled. The book combines travel diary with biography, ethnographic study and geography. 

Buy it here.


A Winter Book by Tove Jansson

Finnish author Jansson is best known for the Moomin stories, and although this collection of short pieces is for adults, it captures the same feeling of childlike wonder her famous creations have for nature, landscape and life. The beautifully observed stories have a lightness of touch and at the same time a deep truth, making them a joy to read. For a bonus recommendation, seek out her short novel The True Deceiver as a follow up. 

Buy it here.

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

This book is difficult to summarise in just a short paragraph. It details Lopez’s travels in the High Arctic, meditating on the landscapes and wildlife, how we explain and interact with them, drawing on historical, cultural, philosophical and scientific significances. This is not an easy book to digest, but the sparklingly beautiful prose and interesting, informative subjects make you want to take your time, and enjoy the brilliance. Best dipped into over a series of winter afternoons. 

Buy it here.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver 

A bone-chilling ghost story set in an abandoned whaling camp in the Spitzbergen archipelago, high in the Arctic, in the late 1930s. With thoughts of impending war not far from the collective consciousness, a British scientific expedition establish themselves in a remote corner, against the advice of the Norwegian administration. As the dazzling brightness of 24-hour daylight gives way to the creeping polar night, a growing unease builds in the team, but is the horror a presence in the darkness or the madness of isolation in a challenging environment?  Buy it here.


Have you got any icy and snowy suggestions for a wintry reading list?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you follow them to buy a book I recommend, I get a small payment from the company, at no charge to you whatsoever. It helps keep my book habit going.


8 thoughts on “5 Books Set in Cold Places to Curl Up With This Winter

  1. diana December 23, 2014 / 00:43

    Great list! I dont think I’ve ever read an adult book that takes place in the arctic 🙂

    • vickyinglis December 27, 2014 / 12:23

      Do you have a recommendation for a good children’s book set in the Arctic?

  2. Elaine J. Masters December 23, 2014 / 03:20

    Great list on a cold theme. When I’m jonesing for more winter (I live in San Diego) these would be a good antidote.

  3. brmsimmons December 25, 2014 / 04:39

    Fantastic and interesting list! Will definitely check some of these out.

  4. katefrankiebrennan December 26, 2014 / 23:32

    I need one of these for my Norway trip! Great list and I’ve never read any of them. I love a good ghost/psychological thriller so I think that book wins for my next read. Thanks for sharing

    • vickyinglis December 27, 2014 / 12:22

      I took Arctic Dreams with me on a road trip across Finnmark, right up in the north of Norway, which was the best place to read it. The chapter on Polar Bears was the prefect accompaniment to a visit to the Polar Bear Society in Hammerfest.

      Dark Matter is my favourite from the list, just the right amount of creepiness and some spectacular descriptions of the Arctic landscape.

  5. PoisedinPrint.com December 27, 2014 / 15:34

    I didn’t meet my reading goal this year. Hopefully these recommendations will make their way to my iPad for next year’s reading goals. These are all new titles to me.

    • vickyinglis December 28, 2014 / 17:14

      I’ve tried to include a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, travel, nature and adventure, so there should be something on the list to appeal to all tastes. Enjoy!

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