Book Club / Culture

Shelter from the cold this season with our ‘RUSSH’ winter reading list

Winter is fast approaching those of us in the southern hemisphere. Days are getting shorter. Nights, brisker. Energy levels, waning.

But despite our enthusiasm for outdoor activities on the lull, we're gearing up for plenty of time spent indoors, rugged up under a blanket, hot beverage in one hand and a riveting new book in the other.

We're of the persuasion that reading in winter should entail cosiness – so we've compiled our non-exhaustive winter reading list for you below...


1. The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel

British art historian and broadcaster Katy Hessel – whom we profiled in our most recent issue of RUSSH – brings women artists to the fore in her companion piece to Ernst Gombrich's The Story of Art. It's a tome – we will warn you – but we think it makes for a wonderfully deep winter read that will equal parts inspire, inform and delight. Perhaps it might awaken some dormant creativity just in time for spring?


2. Among the Almond Trees: A Palestinian Memoir by Hussein Barghouthi

Literature has always been a powerful tool for understanding, and with all that's happening in Palestine at the moment, what better time to immerse ourselves in some of their stories than through your winter reading list? This heartbreaking and poetic memoir by Hussein Barghouthi muses on nature, death, home and life in Palestine.


3. The Work by Bri Lee

There's no season more apt for romance and art-world voyeurism than winter, and Bri Lee's brand-new debut novel The Work is as whip-smart and witty as you could hope for. It's a page-turner, for those looking to something to devour (I read my copy over the course of a single weekend), and you can chase it with a read of our interview with Lee about the book.


4. The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Leibowitz

If you were fortunate enough to catch Fran on her recent tour of Australia, then you'll definitely want to sink your teeth into her two-part collection of comedic essays (inclusive of both Metropolitan Life and Social Studies). Her impeccable style and wit are mastered on these pages, and you'll probably find yourself snorting with laughter at least a few times. (Laughter keeps you warm, right?)


5. Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.

Queer Muslim writer and organiser from New York City, Lamya H. has penned this incredibly raw and unflinching memoir, which questions ideas of gender, sexuality, identity, faith and relationships through her own, truly unique voice. This one's been high on our to-read lists for a while, so winter feels like an apt time to sink our teeth in.


6. A Waiter in Paris by Edward Chisholm

Winter, in my opinion, is a great time for stories about rebirth – and Chisholm's memoir detailing his time spent in Paris as a fledgling waiter is all about starting from the basement of rock bottom. His gory recollections of life in the kitchen – and of the caravanserai of characters that reside there – paint an evocative portrait of the underbelly of Parisian fine dining.


7. Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn

Cold nights are the most befitting setting to indulge your penchant for the paranormal. Lacfadio Hearn's collection of classic ghost stories from Japan contain everything from samurais to Shinto goddesses to spectral brides and flesh-eating goblins. It's the perfect introduction to the thrills of ghoulish Japanese folklore.


8. A Horse at Night: On Writing by Amina Cain

Cain's diary of meditations riff on the lineage of works like Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and William H. Gass’s On Being Blue to land on some incredibly novel ideas about literature, writers and their spaces, feminism and female friendships, and excess. A great piece of non-fiction to accompany a cup of your favourite steaming hot beverage.


9. Bluets by Maggie Nelson

For those more prose-inclined during the colder months, there's no cosier read for a winter night than Maggie Nelson's Bluets. It's lyrical, philosophical, explicit and brilliant – and the entire thing is simply about her thoughts on the colour blue.


10. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong's New York Times bestseller is heart-wrenchingly beautiful and is a must-read at some point in your life, so it might as well be included in your winter reading list (at least, we think so). In this heartfelt letter to his mother, Vuong contends with loss, love and the meaning of family.


Looking for some more new releases to keep on your radar this year? Check out our list of the best new books coming in 2024.

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Feature image via Pinterest.