Essential Mid-Winter Hibernation Reading

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We’re one week into February, arguably the cruelest month of the year. You know the rule: Never make decisions after 3am, or anytime in February. Words to live by. So if you’re not going to be making any decisions, you’re likely to want to stay bundled up in your apartment, igloo, or underground bunker until we at least hit March, and we think you’re going to need some February reading material to keep you warm. We’ve already told you our thoughts on the best cold weather songs for the long winter ahead, but not everyone can survive on music alone, so click through for our essential cold-weather reading list for your hibernation this February.

Aurorarama , by Jean-Christophe Valtat

In the Arctic city of New Venice, the citizens do snowcaine, take tax-sleds home from parties, and generally do a lot of punny cold-weather activities. But it’s also a beautiful novel about living in an inhabitable city, with steampunk sensibilities and a healthy dose of political drama. Excuse us, pole-itical. See, fun for hours.

Light Boxes , by Shane Jones

This novel is about a town trapped in eternal February. February has also started to crack down, denying any mention of summer or flight, or anything that might enliven the people. February sometimes feels like this in the real world too. Read this for pointers on how to battle him and win.

The Snow Leopard , by Peter Matthiessen

National Book Award winner The Snow Leopard is a beautiful non-fiction account of Matthiessen’s two month trek through the Himalayas. Maybe it will inspire you to do some outside exploration of your own. Or you can just live vicariously through Matthiessen, who is much cooler (ha, ha) than you.

The Road , by Cormac McCarthy

The message is simple. It’ll be freezing in post-apocalyptic America, so we better get used to it now. Also, be happy! We still have electricity!

The Left Hand of Darkness , by Ursula K. LeGuin

In this book, Winter is its own planet, where the snow is eternal and the citizens are neither female nor male — except for the one day a month when they reproduce. We know you like to hibernate in the cold months, but this novel might remind you to remember your gender and go out and chat someone up or something. Yes, you can wear your snow boots. Yes, you can take a cab home.

The Shining , Stephen King

Read this for comparison’s sake, because at least you’re not trapped at the Overlook Hotel in the dead of winter. With few exceptions, if your roommate starts to go bonkers, you can at least make a getaway.

The Magicians , Lev Grossman

Um, just for the scene in which the romantic tension between the protagonist and the object of his affection is resolved by the two of them turning into arctic foxes and having sex in arctic fox form. If you’re bemoaning the snow, this might give you a little pick-me-up. We wouldn’t try it though. It seems like things could get complicated.