Spring and summer get all the love, but there’s plenty to celebrate about winter – even after the holidays. Many outdoors enthusiasts already know the joys of snow sports or a walk through the winter woods, while others may prefer to appreciate winter through the window, or even flee to warmer climates. Regardless of your take on cold weather, we’ve found 10 books about the off-season to support your love of nature.
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by Ezra Jack Keats
Yes, it’s a children’s picture book. But no other book has captured the simple wonder of exploring a familiar world transformed by snow as well as Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. If shoveling the drive has obliterated that wonder for you, this book will remind you that snow can be as magical as it is mundane.
by Roger F. Pasquier
Birds in Winter, illustrated with line drawings by Margaret La Farge, is devoted to avian ecology during winter. It explores the ways winter affects birds’ lives year-round, whether they winter in place or migrate. There is also a discussion of conservation challenges, including the impact of climate change on seasonal patterns.
by Jim Crumley
In this installment of his four-part series, Seasons, English nature writer Jim Crumley explores the winter landscape. In The Nature of Winter, he observes the struggles of wildlife in the most challenging season, now compounded by climate change. And among his external observations, he reflects on his own relationship with the natural world and his evolution as a writer.
bu Robert Atwan
This book collects 32 poems on the experience of winter with woodcut illustrations by Thomas Nason. Ranging from classics like James Russell Lowell’s “The First Snow Fall” and John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Snow-Bound” to contemporary, free form poems like Rafael Campo’s “Begging for Change in Winter” and Gertrude Schnackenberg’s “The Paperweight,” there’s something for everyone in A Mind of Winter.
by Melissa Harrison
An anthology of prose and poetry, Winter spans 700 years of reflection on the quietest season. New works from Patrick Barkham, Satish Kumar, and Anita Sethi combine with excerpts from the work of Robert Macfarlane, James Joyce, and Kathleen Jamie, as well as a collection of contemporary, lesser-known authors, each with their own perspective on winter’s rewards.
by Linda Åkeson McGurk
In There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, McGurk tells the story of her own culture clash as a Swedish-born American mom, and her experiment moving her American kids to Sweden where spending time in nature is considered as essential to childhood as academics. While not specific to winter, let’s face it, winter is the time when it’s hard to get kids outside. If you’re going crazy with a house full of kids, here’s your permission to kick send them outside.
And if you need a little nudge to get out in the frosty fresh air yourself, check out Friluftsliv: Connect with Nature the Norwegian Way by Oliver Luke Delorie. The outdoor companion concept to hygge, friluftsliv is the Norwegian concept of “free life air” or enjoying the outdoors simply. Friluftsliv doesn’t require taking up adrenaline-fueled sports or purchasing tons of high-tech gear (although warm clothes help – see McGurk). Instead, it encourages people to get outside on a daily basis year-round.
by Dehlia Hannah
A Year Without a Winter brings together science fiction, history, visual art, and exploration. Inspired by the “year without a summer” and the literary challenge that resulted in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this book includes commissioned stories, essays, and artwork as well as excerpts by Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. Contemporary contributors include Nancy Kress, Nnedi Okorafor, Vandana Singh, Hilairy Hartnett, Nadim Samman, Pablo Suarez, Julian Charrière and Karolina Sobecka, and more.
For another multi-dimensional approach to the impacts of climate change, consider The Secret Lives of Glaciers.
by Val Bourne
Even if you prefer to stay indoors during winter, you can make sure the view is lovely. In The Winter Garden, Val Bourne describes easy and inexpensive ways to add interest to any winter garden with 200 color photographs and site-specific design plans. She also includes maintenance tips and suggests flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees that provide drama to the winter landscape.
by Caleb Warnock
Even in the coldest climates, it’s possible to eat produce fresh from the garden. If you want to give it a try, the lengthy subtitle of Warnock’s Backyard Winter Gardening says it all: Vegetables Fresh and Simple, in Any Climate Without Artificial Heat or Electricity the Way It’s Been Done for 2,000 Years.
Another great all-season gardening guide is Niki Jabbour’s The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.
by Ayja Bounous
Author Ayja Bounous grew up on skis in the mountains of Utah. In Shaped by Snow, she explores what winter means to her personally and its impact on her emotional and psychological health as well as its role in her personal relationships. But mixed in with the memoir, she notes the ecological and economic aspects of winter snow, and the uncomfortable conflict inherent in the fact that so many of the winter activities we cherish contribute to the climate change that threatens them.
Featured image courtesy of zanna-76, Pixabay. This article was originally published on January 6, 2021.