No matter where you are — New York City, a desert island, China — a blizzard may attack at any moment. So let’s say that your basic needs are met: you have shelter, heat, food, water, etc. What else do you need to help you beat the blizz? Just one thing: gratefulness. From death in the snow to murder-suicide, from heartbreaking revelations to frozen children, these blizzard tales will make you exceedingly thankful that you’re trapped in the comfort of your own home.
“To Build a Fire,” Jack London
The quintessence of naturalism. Man vs. Nature. The Yukon. A vintage Londonian husky. “The scent of death.” This will make you feel better about being indoors.
“Bewitched,” Edith Wharton
Arguably Wharton’s best ghost story, this gem from 1926 collection Here and Gone features spectral smiles, fluted urns, and piling snow.
“In the Heart of the Heart of the Country,” William Gass
This masterpiece — by one of the greatest living sentence writers in English — opens with a boy (“the Pedersen kid”) dying in the snow. If someone knocks on your door during the blizzard, will you open it?
“Misery,” Anton Chekhov
To whom shall I tell my grief? Maybe the saddest blizzard story ever written, the title of this masterpiece is also translated as “Heartache.”
“The Dead,” James Joyce
No one is the same after “The Dead,” whose final lines are among the most beautiful devoted to snowfall in English.
“The Snowstorm,” Leo Tolstoy
This short story was widely praised by Tolstoy’s contemporaries, from Herzen to Turgenev. They considered it the most accurate story ever written about a blizzard.
“Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” Conrad Aiken
Aiken’s best story is this late symbolist take on snow as purity. It will throw you back into time: how did your child mind think of blizzards?
“Fits,” Alice Munro
One of the Nobel winner’s great stories, “Fits” has a mysterious title that, well, fits with its bizarre ending. Murder-suicides and blizzards. What could go wrong?
“The Blue Hotel,” Stephen Crane
The Swede. The Easterner. The Cowboy. One of the great American short stories — possibly my favorite — is, on one level, about a bunch of ruffians in Nebraska playing poker in a hotel during a blizzard.
“Snow,” Ann Beattie
The essential “love as a snowy landscape.” By the end, you might even consider your own loved one “the crazy king of snow.”