New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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5 books to curl up with this winter

These cozy recommendations will help you get through the city’s gray skies and freezing temperatures.

Nothing beats winter blues like a good old blanket, a cup of tea and curling up on the couch with the perfect book. Especially considering how the weather’s been lately, going out can get exhausting. So, here are five literary works that will warm your heart and make staying indoors feel a lot more appealing.

“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

An illustration of the cover of “The Song of Achilles,” by Madeline Miller, with an ancient Greek gold helmet in the center with a dark turquoise background.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Miller’s 2011 novel is a retelling of the epic Greek poem “The Iliad,” bridging queer romance with mythology and narratives of the Trojan War. Yes, you will cry, but the tears will be so worth it. The novel follows the intertwined lives of Achilles, the irresistible war hero, and Patroclus, the exiled prince who stumbles where Achilles sprints. While it may feel ironic to read a heart-wrenching book during the already-desolate winter months, this is exactly the time to fully savor the story’s turmoil and vulnerable romance.

“The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman

An illustration of a book titled “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman, with a red border and a dog-like animal looking back in the middle.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Curling up with a murder mystery is always a good way to pass time when going out is a no-go. “The Thursday Murder Club” features detectives who are elderly residents in a retirement community. The main characters are members of a club that discusses bygone murder cases, but when bodies actually start turning up in their town, it’s up to these unconventional geriatric detectives to find the killer. Combining the coziness of sitting by the fire with the perfect amount of on-the-edge-of-your-seat, Agatha Christie clues, Osman makes “The Thursday Murder Club” the ideal winter couch companion.

“The Bodyguard” by Katherine Center

An illustration of an orange book titled “The Bodyguard,” by Katherine Center. Two people stand in a garden with their backs toward each other.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Sometimes, it’s easier in the winter to fantasize about being a CIA agent for a really hot celebrity than to do your homework, and Center makes that possible. “The Bodyguard” follows Hannah Brooks on her newest assignment to protect Hollywood superstar and movie heartthrob Jack Stapleton. Instead of evasive car maneuvers and escapes through secret tunnels, Hannah follows Jack to his family’s Texas ranch, where he is staying during his mom’s chemo treatment. Instead of black aviators and headsets, Hannah pretends to be Jack’s girlfriend. The perfect cross between the delightfully lighthearted fake-dating trope and deep familial complications, “The Bodyguard” takes airy romance and makes it tangible, giving readers the perfect summer feeling when the weather is anything but.

“Ben and Beatriz” by Katalina Gamarra

An illustration of a book cover titled “Ben and Beatriz,” by Katalina Gamarra, with two silhouettes over a colorful background of abstract shapes.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Since dorms don’t have fireplaces — or even candles — sometimes the best way to stay warm during the freezing temperatures is a really steamy book. “Ben and Beatriz” is at a Cape Cod mansion where Beatriz Herrera, a biracial queer woman with a quick wit and even sharper tongue, and Ben Montgomery — who, on the surface, seems like your average,privileged playboy — are forced to live side-by-side. Unraveling the power of politics in relationships, the identities that build us and what to do with oh-so-frustrating, undeniable chemistry, Gamarra gives readers the exact book they need to stay warm during this dreary season.

“Home Body” by Rupi Kaur

An illustration of a brown book titled “home body” by “Rupi Kaur,” with green leaf patterns surrounding the texts, placed on a dark green background.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Oftentimes, the dreary season can make reading an entire novel seem way less fun than taking a good, old-fashioned catnap. If an entire book is too much commitment, a poetry collection can be a far more accessible venture. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur is a collection of introspective poems centered around love, family, friendships and self-acceptance. When the harsh voices in our head get just a little too loud, especially at the stressful beginning of a new semester, Kaur’s words help turn them down. Comforting and vulnerable, “Home Body” is the perfect embrace during these winter months. 

Contact Tess McLafferty at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Alisia Houghtaling, Illustration Editor
Alisia Houghtaling is a first-year in Applied Psychology in Steinhardt and one of WSN's Illustration Editors. In her freetime, you can find Alisia drawing, painting, reading, eating pasta or autopilot walking around SOHO to window shop or stare into windows and say "I want to live there." You can find her on Instagram @_alisiart_ and send Italian restaurant recommendations or ridiculous real-estate listings in the city.
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