Bookish Ways to Cope with the Winter Blues

Winter in North America can be freezing, dark, and long. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a reality for many people. Our mood takes a dive, as can our physical health.

I read a Facebook thread the other day in which women were discussing strategies for coping with the winter. And I was pleasantly surprised to see books featured highly on the list of strategies.

Winter (Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash)

Did you know books have many sensory elements to them? They’re not just something to look at. Hold them, move them around, smell the paper, hear the pages rustling, or hear the book thud at the end of a reading session. What’s not to love about books? Let’s use them to fight the winter blues.

Book Baskets

Get some books off the shelves for a while. Arrange them in beautiful baskets and position them near the coziest spots in the house. You could get new books, but either way, the aim is to inspire an unprompted reading session.

Take stock of what everyone in your family is reading right now. Get a few books out that are a level up from where they are currently at. Or perhaps grab an old favorite that someone hasn’t read in a while. Or, research some new titles to buy and leave in that basket.

Try to make sure the books are attractive at least and beautiful at best.

Are you super crafty? You could even make your own book basket. If you do, please post a photo of it! This is advanced book geek status!

Create Places for Snuggling and Reading

This will usually involve a sofa or two. Maybe an armchair or even a beanbag. Add cushions, rugs, and blankets.

Strategically place the book baskets in these locations. Your family members won’t be able to resist snuggling up and potentially grabbing a book to read.

Reading Nook
Reading Nook (Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash)

Note: You’ll need to restrict the electronic devices in order to enable kids and teens to read books. This can take some discipline and logistics, but it’s well worth doing. Set up a place in the home where all devices are plugged in to charge overnight. Create screen-free time in the evening/morning/whenever, and substitute with coziness, beverages, and books.


Hot Cocoa
Hot Cocoa (Photo by Chester Toh on Unsplash)

Speaking of beverages, these are super important in the winter. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea, eggnog—it all helps to cope with the winter blues. Attached to certain activities, like chatting together, reading a book, or getting up in the morning, hot beverages are a key buffer to the stressful modern lifestyle.

This year, I’m planning to get a Twinings tea chest so that my family can enjoy choosing their own tea at Saturday brunch.

Okay, a word about beverages and books. I have had many a book ruined by a child reading a book plus drinking a mug of hot Milo. For a while, I banned drink-reading. It’s like drinking and driving but far less dangerous.

But on reflection, I now believe that (within reason) we should allow for whatever sets the scene for falling in love with books. Let’s draw the line at reading in the bath.


Fireplaces are ideal, but not everyone has one. Fairy lights are another attractive feature for winter. If your family members are really struggling, get a SAD light to replicate sunlight and trick the body into thinking it’s a different time of year. Make sure they can sit by it for around half an hour. And again, this is a great opportunity to position a basket of beautiful books nearby. Maybe they’ll be lost in a book and absorb a goodly amount of that light.

Special Days to Celebrate

Mark your path through winter by celebrating special days! Especially if there is special food to accompany it.

There are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but did you know there are many other days to celebrate throughout winter? Here are just a few examples:

St. Lucia Day on Dec. 13 is a festival of lights in Scandinavian and European nations commemorating St. Lucia, a Christian virgin martyr. Wearing a wreath of candles on her head, she brought nourishment to persecuted Christians in the catacombs. St. Lucia Crown Cake is served along with mulled wine, coffee, or lingonberry juice. Lussekatts (buns made with raisins) are also served.

St. Lucia Day
“St. Lucia Day” by Pictures by Ann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Epiphany is on Jan. 19 and is also known as Theophany, commemorating the revelation of God incarnate as Christ. There is a special cake to eat, a house blessing, and (for crazy people), time to go swimming. The cake has a little baby figurine, the Christ Child, hidden inside it.

The pagan celebration of Winter Solstice this year will be on Thursday, Dec. 21. People might celebrate by eating seasonal food straight from the earth: nuts, potatoes, game meat, and berries.

So, of course, there are also books to go with every celebration. Get a book out on the appropriate day, and spend some time eating, drinking, and reading together about different times and places.

Baking in the Winter

This is the perfect winter hobby. It warms the home, warms the belly, and fills the air with a delicious fragrance. I’ll personally be baking yeasted fruit buns, pumpkin and apple pie, Anzac cookies, fresh bread, Naan bread, chocolate chip cookies, and more. Closer to Christmas, we will make gingerbread, Christmas pudding, and maybe fruit mince pies.

And don’t forget Peppermint Marshmallow Day. Kids can’t get enough of this stuff.

But, seriously, don’t get it stuck on the books.

Any more ideas?

What else do you do to cope with winter? Any books on the topic? I would love to hear from you. I’ll be taking notes.