Ten books to read for a warm winter break

With the ridiculously large workload school has to offer, finding the leisure time to indulge in pleasant pastimes such as reading can be near to impossible. However, the final stretch of studying and sleep deprivation is upon us! As the end of the semester brushes our fingertips, here are a few books to add to your TBR list for a warm winter break—from poetry to mystery to fantasy.

Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could go back in time?

An endearing novel with tinges of light fantasy, Kawaguchi tells the story of a small café in Tokyo that offers more than just coffee but the chance to travel back in time. However, there’s one condition: customers who take the chance must return from the past before their coffee gets cold. Readers navigate this magical cafe through the journeys of four different customers—each of whom long to meet a loved one just one last time.

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Wallwork’s The Enchanted Sonata is a contemporary retelling of the beloved classic, The Nutcracker. We follow Clara Stahlbaum, a young lady who intends to marry the pianist she loves and live a life full of music and happily ever after. Set right around Christmas time, readers are whisked into a world of enchantment and watch as Clara comes face-to-face with the future she’s always dreamt about.

Classics are always a delight around the holidays!

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

In his heartbreaking, yet beautiful poetry collection, Vuong navigates grief upon the passing of his mother. Through anecdotal and literary reflections, he searches for restoration and acceptance through the memories that have shaped him the most—circling back to themes of family, identity, war, and more. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In the words of Kirkus Review, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all.” Readers meet fictional Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo in the latter years of her fizzled career as she gives an interview to journalist Monique Grant. Through this interview, we are taken on the journey of her entire celebrity life—from the friendships to the (many) romances to the heartbreaking realities behind-the-scenes.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Meet 14-year-old Mona: an unconventional wizard whose magic only works on bread. Her magic is put to the ultimate test when she finds a corpse on the floor of her family’s bakery and finds herself defending the city against an assassin. The catch, however, is that Mona may just be his next target.

Heartstopper: A Graphic Novel Series by Alice Oseman

A queer love chronicle, Heartstopper follows secondary school students Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring as they meet and fall in love. Throughout the series, we watch their relationship evolve as Nick and Charlie fight and overcome their own individual battles. This fictional romance explores themes of friendship, mental illness, and more.

There are currently four volumes!

Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

Born with a brain condition called alexithymia, Yunjae struggles to identify and process emotions. His mother and grandmother are devoted to helping him fit into society and live a comfortable life. However, a tragic incident on his 16th birthday leaves Yunjae alone in a world he has yet to fully understand. Through the power of an unexpected friendship, readers witness Yunjae slowly open up, step outside his comfort zone, and take control of his destiny.

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

This flawless collection of essays discusses the power of nature as a healer and teacher. Woven with personal anecdotes, Nezhukumatathil crafts a story of sustenance and joy for the natural world and its direct parallels to the human experience.

Honey and Spice by Bolu Babalola

A humorous, though passionate contemporary romance, Honey and Spice is the story of a young Black British woman named Kiki Banjo who has no interest in love. That is, until she finds herself entangled in a fake relationship with the very man that she warned her friends about. Readers watch as this situationship slowly unfolds into something deeper. Could this be the moment Kiki opens up her heart?

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Ardon 

The first of a trilogy of books, The Bear and the Nightingale, follows a girl named Vasilisa in a small, spiritual town in the snowy Russian wilderness. After her mother’s passing, her father marries a woman who forbids the family from honoring the household spirits. Surely enough, misfortune begins to plague the town. To defend her beloved town, Vasilisa brings out her own powers long concealed.

Author: Mays Turabi

Avid writer, coffee-drinker, art lover. Oh, and co-news editor for The Cauldron.