If there was ever a perfect season for reading, winter is it. The short days and cold nights all scream “stay in with a book” and it’s such a comforting, wonderful feeling! During the holidays when my tree is up, there’s nothing I love more than hunkering down with a really big book and sipping hot chocolate while I read. Here are a few books I’ve read recently that would all make excellent companions during the long, cold winter.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors, which should be no surprise to anyone! She’s fascinating to read, each of her books so unique and with nuances and complexities that never fail to impress me. Though my favorite is probably still The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace might be my second favorite. I even like it a whole lot better than Handmaid’s Tale, because, as one reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, everything that happens to women in this novel is 100% rooted in history, while Handmaid’s Tale is more speculative. That makes Alias Grace even scarier, in a way.
Alias Grace is about a real-life convicted murderer named Grace Marks, but this novel is a fictionalized version of her life. It’s told in two perspectives: through Grace’s reminiscences, and through the eyes of the doctor hired to find out whether Grace is guilty of murder or not. Through Grace’s life story, we learn about the sexual violence women have endured for centuries, and how that can spark consequences. It’s chilling and captivating and unputdownable.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
If you’re a fan of YA fiction, this is the book series for you. The Diviners is set in 1920s Manhattan, and follows a group of young adults with supernatural powers. It sounds hokey, but it really isn’t. I just finished reading the third book of this four-installment series, and it just keeps getting better with each sequel. So many contemporary themes are explored through the lens of the occult and the Roaring Twenties, which doesn’t seem like it would work well, but it really does.
Libba Bray has been one of my favorite authors since I was 13 years old, and this series reminded me how well she brings a world to life. The magic is also well thought out and fits into the historical context very easily. And of course, each of her characters is so well drawn. I really can’t recommend these books enough!
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
A new release this year, The Roanoke Girls is a thriller, but a thriller unlike any I’ve read before. It’s about a woman who has to return to her hometown when her cousin goes missing. She’s terrified to return to her small town, and gets caught up in a dark, murky family history that boasts all the “Roanoke girls” either dying young or escaping the town. She knows the family history in broad strokes, but she has to come to terms with the brutal truth of it, and find her cousin before something terrible happens. It’s a total trip, really frightening at times, and brings up questions about family duty and whether or not certain traits run in the blood. Kind of cringeworthy at times, as well, like any good thriller!