10 of the best books to read in December (new + cozy winter reads)

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snow by the trees on hasliberg mountain in winter
In the Haslital mountains where I used to live in Switzerland

December is one of my favourite reading months of the year, which probably isn’t surprising considering the time I usually set aside to lounge around, drink mulled wine, eat mince pies, and read around Christmas.

What are the best books to read in December? My answer usually includes cozy books, winter books, and some festive Christmas reads.

In this collection, you’ll find my recommended books to read in December this year, including some of the best new books of 2023 and favourites from previous years.

Some recommendations are feel-books for uplifting reading, but I’ve also added some literary fiction and classics. No matter how you’re feeling and the reading vibes you’re searching for, I hope you can find the perfect book to read in December. Enjoy!

winter tales by dawn casey and zanna goldhawk in cozy setting with coffee and candles

The best books to read in December 2023

Homecoming by Kate Morton

Not only is Kate Morton’s new historical fiction novel excellent, but it’s also mostly set in December. Set between London and Australia in the fifties and present day, Homecoming tells the story of a shocking event in South Australia in 1959 and repercussions that echo across continents and generations.

Struggling to make ends meet, Jess is a journalist in London searching for a good story. When she rushes to Australia after her beloved grandmother is sent to hospital, Jess discovers a long-buried secret that would make the perfect story – if it weren’t about her own family. If you’re looking for the best new books to read in December 2023, I’d recommend this.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

winter solstice by rosamunde pilcher book cover

Winter Solstice is my ultimate festive read; of all the books to read in December, this is the one I make a tradition of reading every year. In this classic winter book by the beloved author of The Shell Seekers, the rippling effects of a tragedy bring five characters together in a large, neglected estate house near the Scottish fishing town of Creagan for the shortest day of the year.

It’s a charming book about love, loyalty, and rebirth, without being too sickly sweet. I know I’ll be rereading it in years to come; it makes for such cozy winter reading.

A Storm of Infinite Beauty by Julianne MacLean

I read an advance copy of A Storm of Infinite Beauty back in the summer, but I think winter would be the perfect time to tumble into its pages and wild Alaskan setting.

Written by the author of one of my favourite laidback summer reads, These Tangled Vines, this new novel by Julianne MacLean blends romance and historical fiction to tell the story of a beloved Hollywood icon and the secrets she’s buried in an unfathomably wild and powerful place.

I loved the flashbacks, the slow uncovering of the past, and the down-to-earth side of the main character as the details of her fascinating life emerge.

The Perfect Loaf by Maurizio Leo

Most of the recommended books for December in this list are fiction, but I hope you can accept this outlier (especially if, like me, you love baking in December).

My copy of The Perfect Loaf  has been a firm feature in our living room recently. I’ve finally decided to try making sourdough bread, a tentative goal of mine for the last few years, and this book has been guiding me along every step of the way.

It’s a fantastic guide for anyone who’s clueless (like me) or wants to refine their knowledge with expert tips. Every single question seems to be answered in Maurizio Leo’s bread bible – it’s rated 4.7+ on Goodreads for a reason. What better time to create your first sourdough starter than in the slower days of December?

The Recipe for Hope by Fiona Valpy

I’ve long been searching for books with similar vibes to Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice (mentioned earlier in this list), and one of the closest books I’ve found is The Recipe for Hope. Like Pilcher’s festive favourite, this 2022 novel begins with loss and moves towards a life-affirming ending.

In search of a place to be alone away from London’s festive streets, Evie, an American chef living in London – escapes to her friend’s house in the South of France for Christmas. Although she’s planning to be alone, her neighbours unexpectedly guide her back to life and the work she loves most: creating delicious recipes that warm the body and soul.

Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition: How Fungi Make Our Worlds by Merlin Sheldrake

Merlin Sheldrake’s spellbinding ode to fungi, Entangled Life, is one of the most loved nature books of the last decade, taking us by the hand into a hidden, interconnected universe that we rely on in so many ways.

Now in 2023, and with 100 fascinating full-colour images and abridged text from the original, Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition is a lavish new edition to admire, gift, and be entranced by.

Collected Works by Lydia Sandgren

A Swedish bestseller that’s recently been published in English, Collected Works is a wonderfully literary and complex novel about love, power, and art – and what leads us to make the pivotal decisions that change the course of our lives.

At over 600 pages, it’s a long, long book that seems to move at a glacial pace. And yet, I found it completely immersive. You soon fall into the Scandinavian world created by Sandgren with all of its cafes and blustery streets in winter.

Bringing together the worlds of academia and art with the story of a man’s missing wife, you can think of Collected Works as something like The Secret History meets Sally Rooney in Gothenburg.

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

Leila and the Blue Fox is one of the best children’s books I’ve read this year – and absolutely one of the most beautifully illustrated. Readers young and grown (starting at around 9+) can fall in love with this heartwarming story of an Arctic fox’s journey by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, accompanied by glacial blue-toned illustrations by Tom de Freston.

With themes of immigration and based on the true story of an Arctic fox who walked 2,000 miles from Norway to Canada in seventy-six days, this compelling, emotional, and beautifully illustrated story is also a lovely book gift for children.

Four Seasons in Japan by Nick Bradley

Admittedly there’s something about Four Seasons in Japan to enjoy in every season. But as one of the best new books of 2023, why not enjoy it this December?

The life-affirming story begins with the perspective of Flo, an Oregon-born translator who’s living in Tokyo and achieving her dreams, but feeling more lost and empty than ever. However, when she stumbles upon a lost book in the subway, she finds both a fascinating project and a beautiful story that brings her back to life.

As readers, we also fall in love with this wonderful book within a book. Nick Bradley’s wise and comforting novel is one of my top book recommendations of 2023, especially if you’re feeling stuck or at a crossroads in your life.

Winter Tales by Dawn Casey and Zanna Goldhawk

I’ve shared this stunning book in a few collections lately, including my selection of hygge books. Winter Tales brings together Dawn Casey’s winter stories and folktales with gorgeously magical and imaginative folk-inspired art by Zanna Goldhawk for a hardcover book to treasure and admire in the winter months.

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