Books to read over winter break


photo by Joshua Kim

Winter break provides several glorious days of sleeping in, pajamas all day and Christmas movies. However, Netflix and social media can get old pretty quickly. If you’re looking for a way to relax that will also stimulate your mind, look no further than this cozy winter reading list.


For irresistible drama, read “Tiny Pretty Things” by Sona Charaipotra and Dhionelle Clayton. This sensationally atmospheric book features three ballerinas at a prestigious ballet school in New York City, where the competition is cutthroat. “Tiny Pretty Things” juxtaposes the beauty of snowy New York and glittery tutus with the intensity of its messy, backstabbing characters. The three main characters, Gigi, June and Bette, range from hero to villain as they vie for the best part in their performance of “The Nutcracker” — a show that always invokes wintery vibes. 


For a nostalgic escape, reread “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling. “Harry Potter” follows the titular Harry through his years at Hogwarts, a school for wizards. This classic series’ cozy, magical feel is perfect for wintertime. Since the whole series is upwards of 3,000 pages, just reread your favorite instead (hint: “The Order of the Phoenix”).  


For a snowy mystery, read “The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia” by Candace Fleming. I don’t know if it’s the song, “Once Upon A December” from the movie Anastasia” or the allure of a chilling mystery in snowy Russia, but the story of the Romanovs always reminds me of Christmastime. “The Family Romanov” is a nonfiction account of the 19th century Russian royal family. I’m far from a history lover, but this succinct book mesmerized me with the haunting story of the Romanovs and their eerie friend, Rasputin.


For a trip to the ballet, read “Winterdream” by Chantal Gadoury. “Winterdream” is a very close retelling of “The Nutcracker,” and is sure to entertain devoted fans of the classic Christmas ballet. In this book, just as in the ballet, Clara is given a nutcracker on Christmas eve and is taken on a tour of magical lands. Admittedly, parts of this book drag (similar to the ballet), but it’s a perfect stand-in if you can’t get to the theater this year. Bonus points for listening to “The Nutcracker” score while reading!

For inspiration for the new year, read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey. The start of a new year is always a fun time to try to overhaul your life. This self-help book focuses on mindset shifts for success. Though some of the references in this classic are a little outdated, its ethos rings clearly decades after its publication and will be useful for those hoping to turn over a new leaf in 2021.