5 Cozy Fantasy Books to Read This Winter 

I love reading fantasy year-round, but something about the cold weather especially makes me want to curl up with a made-up book world that I can fully immerse myself in. There is something very comforting and nostalgic to me about reading fantasy books, maybe coming from growing up reading so many fairytales with my parents, and the cozy vibes of the Holiday season make fantasy the perfect genre for the colder months. Whether you’re new to the genre or have read tons of fantasy before, there is definitely a book for everyone on this list. 

1. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steivater

If you’re completely new to fantasy, The Raven Cycle is a great place to start. More of a contemporary book with some fantastical elements rather than a “true” fantasy, the story is set in a small town in Virginia and follows the main character, Blue, the daughter of a psychic, who has been told her entire life that she’ll be the cause of her true love’s death. As a result, she has mostly avoided boys her age, but that changes when she meets three private-school boys who are desperately looking for information on paranormal magic and leylines in order to find the grave of an ancient Welsh king. Slightly spooky and perfectly atmospheric for the colder months, this series is perfect for binge-reading over winter break.

​2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I feel like it wouldn't be possible to talk about winter-inspired books without mentioning this book. If you’re really in the mood for a classic, fairytale-esque story, this is the one for you. Set in a town in the Russian wilderness circa 1300, The Bear and the Nightingale follows Vasilisa, a young girl who grows up to realize that all of her grandmother’s fairy tales of demons and forest spirits are slowly coming true around her. The book explores the intersection between Paganism and Christianity, and how a new religious era forced people to give up what they previously believed in for the sake of fearing a Christian god instead. The writing and atmosphere in this book are truly stunning, and make for a great read even for people new to fantasy. 

3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

If you’re looking for something a little more gritty and dark, this is definitely the book for you. Set in Ketterdam, a fictional city that is loosely based on 1800’s Amsterdam, the book follows a rag-tag team of likable criminals, assassins, conmen and spies who all come together after being given the offer to pull off a heist that will make them unimaginably wealthy. As mentioned, this book is full of the darker atmosphere that Bardugo is known for as an author, but with bits of humor and likable characters thrown into the mix, Six of Crows and its sequel make for a charming, strangely comforting read. 

books on shelf Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unsplash

4. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

This book is perfect for anyone who loves retellings of classic stories. Set in 1926 Shanghai, These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling centered around two warring gangs. As one could expect from a retelling of such a dramatic work, things start to get chaotic pretty quickly, with a deadly virus, inner-gang betrayal, and more getting introduced early on in the book. When all hope seems to be lost, the two main characters, Juliette and Roma, are forced to work together to save their city, thus setting their relationship in gear. As many fantasy books don’t often have romance as one of the central themes, this is a great book for seasoned fantasy readers looking to try something new. 

5. A Childhood Favorite, like Narnia, The Golden Compass, or Harry Potter

One of the most comforting things I can think of is re-reading some of my favorite childhood book series, and there is truly no better time for this than winter break. Many classic book series written for kids are classics for a reason, and in my experience, they almost always hold up to the test of time, being just as much fun to read as an adult as they were when I was younger. Personally, I’m looking forward to nothing more over the break than curling up by the fire with hot chocolate and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

stack of books Photo by Kelly Arnold from Unsplash