It is that time of year. It has just started to snow and the days are much darker and colder. This time, while being the coziest time of year, is the beginning of the most difficult time of year for me as well. There will soon be a little less color in the world, and my body and brain will want to go into hibernation mode. But, while I will probably do some hibernating, it is the time in which I will read more, pick up my Winter hobbies, and add more color into my life myself.
I wanted to share with you all what I like to read in Winter, and some of the activities I like to do that may help you through the darker months as well. Winter can really affect mental health, and I know I need to just keep doing things that make me happy to get through it. It doesn’t work all the time, but I always feel a little bit better for trying.
Cozy mysteries, of course! How could you have a proper cozy Winter without some cozy mysteries? These books are often like a warm hug, and they are like popcorn, you can read one after another after another, and still want to read more. Cozy mysteries are good ways to fill the time, especially if you need something quiet and relaxing, instead of rushing to do an activity. Many of these books will be middle-grade as well, as I find the best stories with middle-grade authors.
Here are some of the cozy mysteries I’m excited to read this Winter:
The Vanishing of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes – This is the latest book in the Aveline Jones series, and, though spooky, I feel that these middle-grade books make the coziest mysteries!
The Bookmobile Cat Mysteries by Laurie Cass – Yes, this is your typical series of cozy mysteries in a small town with a bookseller. How many of these have we seen on my reading wrap-ups? So many. How many am I planning to read this Winter? So many more! I just thought this particular series looked cute, and while it takes place in Autumn, I can think of nothing cozier.
Atmospheric books are a must. I like to slow down a bit when I’m reading in Winter, and that means I will often like a slower-paced story with lots of atmosphere. I like to think these types of books help me to embrace the slower and more relaxed days of Winter, even when my mind is telling me to jump up and do do do. Many of the ghost stories I read are very atmospheric, but I also like others. One book I read this year that embodies this type of read is Piranesi by Suzanna Clarke. Most of this book is just atmosphere, one that I was eager to explore. These types of books also explore the feelings that you might have while exploring the space, and that in itself is very important to these types of books. In Piranesi, you are not necessarily supposed to feel lost, but you do feel overwhelmed at times.
Here are a few of the atmospheric books I plan on reading this Winter:
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell – I have already started this book, and when I say the atmosphere is frosty (both with the landscape and the characters), I mean it is FROSTY. There are sure to be spooks coming up in the plot, but so far the landscape of the large house in the run-down village is enticing.
Underland by Robert Macfarlane – This book literally takes you to all the underground places of the world and the history and landscape behind them. Tunnels, burials, etc. If this is not the perfect book to slow down with and explore, then I don’t know what would be.
While Halloween is the creepiest time of year, I would argue that Winter is the best time to be reading ghost stories. A lot of ghost stories happen to take place in the Winter time, almost as if the living world has gone to sleep, and now the frosty spirits of the dead make themselves known. Perhaps they wish to fill the silence. In any case, it is the perfect time to start a list of spooky books to cozy up with on a frosty Winter night.
Here’s a few of what is on my list of spooky reads this Winter:
Thin Air by Michelle Paver – Just like Dark Matter, Thin Air takes place in Winter in the snow, amidst an almost impossible adventure. And this adventure, daunting in itself, may hold other unknown dangers to the characters, perhaps of supernatural origins.
The Ghost Stories of M.R. James – I have read many of James’ stories before, but this year I downloaded the audiobook narrated by Christopher Lee! I like to listen to audiobooks when I take my pups for their walks, or just as I’m trying to fall asleep. And with Christopher Lee’s wonderful voice? Sleeping should be no trouble!
These are by no means all the books I have on my list, but they are examples of the kinds of mood reading I want to get into.
This is the time when I miss flowers and green things the most. Last year, I began drawing flowers everyday, to give some color to my space in my house. It makes me feel like I have my own little garden. I will be doing the same thing this year, though I am trying different art media to create different styles. Right now, I am using watercolor brush pens, which are so fun to use. Next, I want to try oil pastels.
While not as active, video games have saved my sanity some Winters. My absolute favorite game in all the world is Stardew Valley. I love everything about it – the art style, the music (one of the best soundtracks ever in my opinion), the gameplay (you get to romance npcs!), and even better, you get to play in all four seasons. It is so nice to see Spring flowers in the middle of Winter! I could play this game forever – and I probably will. I recommend this game to anyone who just wants pure coziness and happiness. It is utterly the happiest game.
Farming sims like Stardew are very fun to play in Winter, especially if you can see the changing seasons. I recommend games like Animal Crossing, and Cozy Grove (think Animal Crossing with better mechanics and also ghost bears). These games actually show the season you’re in in real life, but they add their own special twists with seasonal festivals and decor. If you find, like me, that you don’t have the energy to make your own home look festive, you can at least enjoy the atmosphere of these games.
I’m trying to find more games like these, so if any of you have recs, I will take them!
Keeping it together
This isn’t really a Winter activity, but it’s super important to figure out ways to deal with mental health during the cold season. One thing I struggle with is keeping my house together (clean, happy pups, good food, etc.) because my energy is at its lowest in Winter and because my depression decides to come out and play. But I figure out little ways to keep things together. I don’t do anything all at once because that’s just overwhelming. I recently bought the book How To Keep House While Drowning, which is a self-help guide to keeping house when you are mentally ill or neurodivergent. I have taken ideas from this book and implemented them into my daily life. I suck at keeping a steady routine everyday, but I’ve found that if I give myself options of what needs to be done in the house and I pick one, then I will feel good about having accomplished at least one thing. And if I can’t do anymore that day, then that is fine. If I can do more, even better.
To keep the depression at a good level, I always try to have a balance between rest and activity. Because it’s so cold where I am, it’s very hard to go outside. For now, I am able to walk my pups in the morning, which makes a nice start to the day. But when the days get colder it will be harder to go out. It is important to get some fresh air, so even standing outside for a few minutes helps.
It’s such a hard time of year for those who struggle with depression, etc, during the Winter. All I can say is that it will pass, and Spring will be such a happy time. I know I always look forward to the lilacs of late Spring.
And those are my recommendations for transitioning into the colder months! I hope you all stay happy and healthy this Winter. I will be back with more book reviews and reading wrap-ups soon.
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