Cold books

We love a fireside read as much as the next person, but even the most roaring and well-stoked woodburner will struggle to take the edge off these chilly tomes. If you like to feel the biting cold drift from the page to your fingertips, you need all of these on your shelf.

Snow, Dog, Foot, by Cladio Morandini

Supremely frosty and quietly written novelette about a man, his dog, and the foot they discover poking out of the snow. With the sense of reality already waning in the unbearable winter, the sense of a gradual unhinging is amazingly entertaining.

Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh

Another absolute banger from Ottessa Moshfegh. If you’ve read Death in Her Hands and My Year of Rest and Relaxation but missed this one, then now is the perfect time. It’s got everything: snowy New England setting, brilliant narrator, noir-like plotting.

Ice by Anna Kavan

Hallucinogenic, frosty, haunting and compelling all at once, Anna Kavan’s unique eco-dystopia is a chase of a novel that wrongfoots you at every turn. It deliberately disorients and flummoxes, using the eery quiet of the encroaching ice-scape to confuse as much as it excites.

Moonstone, by Sjón

Sjón is a brilliant writer and Moonstone is a great place to start with his work, and with Iceland’s literary scene as a whole. Moonstone is a queer, ethereal novel set at the cusp of Icelandic independence, the birth of surrealist cinema and the height of the 1918 pandemic. Serious and playful in equal measure.

A Woman in the Polar Night, by Christiane Ritter

Crunchy and vivid true-life account of the author’s relocation to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen in 1934. Imagining it to be a chance to curl up by the fire and get some books read, she soon realises that the remoteness of her location and the harshness of the environment are something to be feared, not embraced.

Of Walking In Ice, by Werner Herzog

Inimitable, irascible, sensitive, intellectual, approachable, and only 80 pages long – this is the legendary director’s account of walking the entire distance from Munich to Paris to arrive at the deathbed of his mentor, Lotte Eisner. Even better if you read it with Werner Herzog’s voice in your head.

Butcher’s Crossing, by John Williams

Celestially beautiful western set across a deeply harsh winter of buffalo hunting – smell the gunsmoke and cowhide coming off the pages, revel in the sumptuous descriptions of the finger-stiffening conditions, soak up the unerring melancholy.

Annapurna, by Maurice Herzog

Pop your gloves on for this account of the first ascent of the infamous 8000m peak of Annapurna – Maurice Herzog is a cocky and determined mountaineer who describes in the most painful and poetic detail the travails of such an endeavour with (what now seems like) horrifyingly primitive equipment. Our favourite mountaineering book.

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