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Chilly Winter Reads Paired With Songs to Amplify Their Mood

As an avid reader, I often find myself assigning times of the year to books I read. For instance, I think Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an indisputable spring read, while The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison only feels right during the summer.

As I write this, I’m in the Kent State Library beside a window looking out at snow flurries as they tumble to the ground. Winter is a tough time of year for a lot of people, especially in Ohio, as snowstorms can cause a lot of people to be locked in their homes, which can be infuriating. However, this feeling of frustration can be eased with the right book to sit down and spend your time with.

These are some books I believe read as winter stories, paired with some songs I’ve chosen that add depth to the stories themselves.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I’m sure you’ve heard of this classic time and time again. However, its magnificence seems to be multiplied when being read with snow on the ground.

This story is told by the housekeeper, Nelly, who recounts the childhood life of her charges. Decisions between following societal normality versus your heart, family versus found-family and morality versus passion spark major themes in Brontë’s all-encompassing gothic tale.

Songs:

“Haunted” by Taylor Swift

“Moon Song” by Phoebe Bridgers

“Ghostin” by Ariana Grande

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This was my favorite read of 2021.

An emotional rollercoaster that takes you into the depths of mental illness through the mind of a young woman who has won a magazine competition to leave her small town to go to New York. The breezy characterization and lovely, haunting syntax make for the perfect winter book.

Songs:

“Pretty When You Cry” by Lana Del Rey

“How to Disappear Completely” by Radiohead

“Brutally” by Suki Waterhouse

3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

What reads better in the winter than dark academia?

In this bone-chilling tale of magic and power, Galaxy “Alex” Stern is selected to become part of Yale’s exclusive and elusive magic community. As she discovers the secrets of her apprenticeship, she also discovers horrors beyond Yale’s occult and paranormal imagination.

Songs:

“Crystal” by Stevie Nicks

“Teeth” by 5 Seconds of Summer

“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

4. These Violent Delights Duology by Chloe Gong

A beautiful retelling of the age-old-tale of “Romeo and Juliet”.

Taking place in 1920’s Shanghai, rival gang members, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov fight to keep their people safe from the madness sweeping Shanghai, while also keeping their childhood love for one another secret. While I maintain that the original Romeo and Juliet is a spring read, this fiery retelling is the perfect companion on cold winter nights.

Songs:

“Like Real People Do” by Hozier

“I Know Places” by Taylor Swift

“Sparks” by Coldplay

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Do you want creepy? Glacial? Surprising? I present to you: The Silent Patient.

A psychologist takes a special interest in a woman who killed her husband who has not spoken a word since being apprehended. This story is captivating and challenging as it takes you through twists and turns as we uncover the real story of the night Alicia murdered her husband.

Songs:

“Treacherous” by Taylor Swift (note: Taylor Swift really knows how to connect to a story)

“Robbers” by The 1975

“Sleeping Beauty” by A Perfect Circle

6. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

My favorite story of all time.

Following Twilight, Stephanie Meyer’s harrowing tale of desperation and desolation shows Bella’s life without Edward after he leaves her in order to protect her from the danger that follows his life as a vampire. Just thinking about the seasons-changing scene is enough to give your heart frostbite.

Songs:

“Apocalypse” by Cigarettes After Sex

“Drive” by Deftones

Literally, the entire New Moon Soundtrack, every single song on there is worth a listen.

7. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

A mortal girl is forced into the ensnaring world of Elfhame, filled with fairies, goblins and no small amount of magic. Even though fairies are incapable of lying, they are very skilled in trickery. Jude and her twin sister must find a way to survive the spite of the magical creatures, as well as the burning hatred the prince has for her.

With deception around every corner, can Jude escape the labyrinth of betrayal, surprises and power-plays before it’s too late?

Songs:

“Hit Me Where it Hurts” by Caroline Polacheck

“Better Than Revenge” by Taylor Swift

“Woods” by Mac Miller

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky

High school outcast Charlie writes letters to a person he’s never met before, just hoping someone is out there who cares about his story. A coming-of-age novel filled to the brim with heartbreak and heartwarming embarrassment and love, as well as hilarity and sadness.

A beautifully tragic story of coming into ones’ own in the world.

Songs:

“Asleep” by The Smiths (maybe three times?)

“Lua” by Bright Eyes

“Creature Fear” by Bon Iver

9. Macbeth by Shakespeare

One day, the well-respected General Macbeth finds his path blocked by three witches who foresee his future as King of Scotland. Thrust into a world of murder, power and treachery, this play is Shakespeare’s most popular.

Its heart of darkness is made even more brilliant in the blinding light of snow.

Songs:

“Change (In the House of Flies)” by Deftones

“Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra

“1121” by Halsey

As it is only mid-January, prepare for some snow days! Pass the time with a good book in your lap and a good playlist in the background.

If you’re in the Kent area, a great used bookstore to check out is Last Exit Books!

This store doubles as a cafe and triples as a vinyl shop! It’s got a great selection and is very inviting for anyone looking for a nice spot to sit and watch the snowfall!

Emilee Keaggy

Kent State '25

I'm a lover of reading, music, movies, astrology, and food! I'm a freshman at Kent who's interested in psychology, english, and fashion. I'm an avid magazine reader and I live for Vogue's September issue (and free tote!) every year.
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