With short days and cold weather seeming unending, this time of year can feel gloomy and harsh. But you don’t have to wait for the warm rays of spring to thaw the dreary drifts of snow in order to enjoy some cheering reads. There are plenty of sincere and heartfelt stories that can bring some much-needed warmth to your reading list and inspire you to find joy this winter.
10 Heartwarming Reads That’ll Melt the Winter Cold Away
If you’re reading this post, you probably really love books (call it a hunch). But Sarah Dove lives for books, which makes her occupation as a librarian of her little town the perfect one. That and her talent for matching books and the people who need to read them. So when Grace Wheeler returns to take care of her mom, Sarah tries to welcome her with the power of books. Resistant at first, Grace slowly opens up to her old home. THE BOOK CHARMER is exactly that, a charmer that will fill you with joy and warmth before nesting perfectly on your shelves where you can return to reread it for years to come.
Prepare to fall under the spell of “this sometimes whimsical, often insightful, always absorbing story” (Shelf Awareness) following two fiercely independent women and their truly magical friendship in a sleepy Southern town, from New York Times bestselling author of Karen Hawkins.
Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books live, breathe, and sometimes even speak. As the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.
If the books are right, Grace could be the savior Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. But with a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, will Grace ultimately embrace the challenge to rescue her charmed new community?
“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself.
Rachel Flood never expected to go back to Quinn, Montana, after she left it in a blaze of glory and chaos. But nine years later, she’s slinking back into town, ready to make peace with everyone she’s wronged, even her mom, Laverna. Too bad no one wants to hear her out. THE FLOOD GIRLS is the heartwarming and hilarious tale of bad decisions coming home to roost—and growing as a person because of it. Rachel’s journey, literal and emotional, is both inspiring and heartfelt, and might even lead to your own reflection on how you got to where you are.
February 2016 Indie Next List Pick
This snappy, sassy redemption story set in small-town Montana is “a wild and crazy debut novel by a talented young writer” (Jackie Collins), filled with an uproarious and unforgettable cast of characters you won’t want to leave behind.
“[The Flood Girls] includes barfights and AA meetings, a parade, a wedding, and a black bear, all of which Fifield juggles beautifully...The Wild West earns its name all over again in this lovable chronicle of small-town insanity.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.
Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.
In the spirit of Empire Falls and A League of Their Own, with the caustic wit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure, Richard Fifield’s hilarious and heartwarming debut will have you laughing through tears.
When disaster strikes the Turner family in 1919 and the father, Frank, can no longer work, their mother, Ethel, turns Kit, Winnie, Gert, and Nell into a vaudeville act to keep them afloat. Soon the sisters find themselves in love with the stage, and the colorful cast of characters they meet along the way. The four siblings in THE TUMBLING TURNER SISTERS find empowerment by earning a living through their own skills and pursuing what each of them really wants. You’ll end up falling in love with each of them as they come into their own, and finding yourself wishing you could join their rumbling, tumbling world.
For fans of Orphan Train and Water for Elephants, a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their family.
It’s 1919, and the Turners are barely scraping by. When their father loses his job, their irrepressible mother decides that vaudeville is their best chance to make the rent—and create a more exciting life for herself in the process.
Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.
Do you think people who see your posts online know the real you? For Sunshine Mackenzie, celebrity chef, her social media personal brand is more brand than personal. That is until her accounts get hacked, revealing all her fraudulent secrets to the world at large. But from the ashes grow the roses of rediscovery, as Sunshine heads to her hometown to find herself again. A story about the importance of sincerity and being true to oneself, HELLO, SUNSHINE is sure to thaw even the coldest of hearts. And if you’re looking for more from Laura Dave, her new book, THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME, will be coming this spring!
Best Books of Summer Selection by People, Elle, Redbook, Domino Magazine, US Weekly, PopSugar, PureWow, InStyle.com, WMagazine.com, HarpersBazaar.com, SouthernLiving.com, Arizona Republic, and Tallahassee Democrat
Epicurious Best Foodie Reads Selection
Library Reads Pick
“A clever beach bag must-have” (People) from Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—“a smart, fun read about trying to live an authentic life in the age of social media overload” (PopSugar).
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light. Sunshine is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses her husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
“A delightfully addictive page-turner” (WMagazine.com) that takes place in a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is “wickedly funny and gorgeously entertaining…there is no chance you won’t consume this golden summer read in one sitting” (Redbook.com).
You know how to start a good heartwarming tale? Petty theft! When Millie Gogarty, an 83-year-old widowed grandmother in Dublin, shoplifts again, her son, Kevin, is forced to get her an at-home aide, while also dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter and feelings of inadequacy over his unemployment. At first, Sylvia, the American aide Kevin hires, seems to help, but things only unravel even faster for the family after that. GOOD EGGS captures the kind of dysfunction familiar in many families, but one that gives way to genuine love and kinship when the road gets tough.
“A joyous, exuberantly fun-filled novel of second chances. An absolute delight from start to finish!” —Sarah Haywood, New York Times bestselling author
“Bracing, hilarious, warm, this novel is as wayward and mad as the human heart.” —Judy Blundell, New York Times bestselling author
A hilarious and heartfelt debut novel following three generations of a boisterous family whose simmering tensions boil over when a home aide enters the picture, becoming the calamitous force that will either undo or remake this family—perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
When Kevin Gogarty’s irrepressible eighty-three-year-old mother, Millie, is caught shoplifting yet again, he has no choice but to hire a caretaker to keep an eye on her. Kevin, recently unemployed, is already at his wits’ end tending to a full house while his wife travels to exotic locales for work, leaving him solo with his sulky, misbehaved teenaged daughter, Aideen, whose troubles escalate when she befriends the campus rebel at her new boarding school.
Into the Gogarty fray steps Sylvia, Millie’s upbeat home aide, who appears at first to be their saving grace—until she catapults the Gogarty clan into their greatest crisis yet.
With charm, humor, and pathos to spare, Good Eggs is a delightful study in self-determination; the notion that it’s never too late to start living; and the unique redemption that family, despite its maddening flaws, can offer.
Life can be full of regrets, so if you got the chance to do it all again, would you? Peter Wyatt gets to find out when he goes to bed a 65-year-old man in 2020, then wakes up a teenager in his childhood bedroom back in 1970. As he recounts this strange predicament to child psychologist Dr. Terry Canyon, Peter sets to undo the missteps he made in order to “fix” his life. From famed radio host Bill Flanagan, FIFTY IN REVERSE is a profound novel that takes a comical premise and really digs into what makes a life, both the good and the bad.
From TV personality and radio host Bill Flanagan comes a “funny and sharp” (Rosanne Cash, Grammy Award–winning singer/songwriter and bestselling author) time-traveling adventure novel about how the past never gives up its hold on the present and how even sixty-five-year-olds are still kids at heart.
If you had the chance to live your life over again, knowing everything that you know now, would you take it? Would you still take it if it meant losing everything you had today? Would a second chance to correct every mistake and missed opportunity be worth giving up the world you know and the life you have built? In Fifty in Reverse, fifteen-year-old Peter Wyatt does just that.
In the spring of 1970, Harvard psychologist Terry Canyon is introduced to Peter, a quiet kid from a wealthy family who has been suspended from ninth grade for stripping off his clothes in Algebra class. When Terry asks Peter why he did, the boy explains that he was trying to “shock myself awake.” It turns out that Peter believes he is a sixty-five-year-old man who went to sleep in his home in New York in the year 2020 and woke up in his childhood bedroom fifty years earlier.
Hilariously depicting Peter’s attempts to fit in as a fifteen-year-old in 1970 and to cope with the tedium, foolishness, and sexual temptations of high school as he tries to retain the sense of himself as a sixty-five-year-old man, Fifty in Reverse is a thought-provoking and enlightening novel about second chances and appreciating where you are in life.
Family can surround and protect you, but Emily Emerson has been losing members of her family for years now. After her grandmother passes away, Emily receives a painting of her as a young woman with a mysterious note attached. Desperate to find her roots, Emily starts to look into the past, taking her to Germany to discover the complicated truth about her family and their secrets. WHEN WE MEET AGAIN is the kind of novel with beautiful prose that will pull you under its spell in just a few pages, an allure that will remain long after the story is over.
Emily thinks she’s lost everything…until a mysterious painting leads her to what she wants most in the world. The new novel from the author of international bestsellers The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended shows why her books are hailed as “engaging” (People), “absorbing” (Kirkus Reviews) and “enthralling” (Fresh Fiction).
Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”
Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the POW internment camps of Florida, where German prisoners worked for American farmers...and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily on a road that leads from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany and back to the Atlanta art scene before she’s done.
Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she’s seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she’s been keeping locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?
Jesse Strong is a heartbreaker, except when it comes to his mom. But when she unexpectedly passes away, he fights to keep her knitting store open, even though his brothers want to shut it down. To keep it, and his mother’s legacy, up and running, Jesse enlists Kerry, a childhood friend who has had a crush on him for years. He finds himself falling for her as she teaches him the ins and outs of yarn, but Kerry isn’t convinced she won’t just be another of his exes. REAL MEN KNIT has Jesse in a bid to preserve his mother’s labor of love—and to earn the trust and affection of the girl he overlooked—while convincing his brothers his heart’s in the right place.
What’s cozier than a good book club? Well, it depends on the book in question. Cassie Fitzgerald starts a Skype book club with the best of intentions: to cheer up her grandmother and connect those in Ireland’s Finfarran Peninsula with the families of those who emigrated long ago. But one book choice has the club devolving into old feuds, airing dark secrets, and exposing broken hearts. While it all sounds very dramatic, THE TRANSATLANTIC BOOK CLUB manages to stick the happy ending, leaving readers smiling and delighted.
A trip to Italy might sound nice, but what if it came with the caveat that you’d have to meet the father who has chosen to be absent all your life? Yeah, suddenly all that gelato and those rolling hillsides don’t sound so great. Lina sure feels that way as she honors her mother’s dying wish to meet her father, but it’s not exactly what it seems. Throw in a gorgeous countryside and a blooming crush on a cute local boy, and you’ve got yourself LOVE & GELATO. It may seem like a simple and sweet story, but its biting wit and easy charm will make you believe in love all over again…and may make you want to move to Tuscany (when all the craziness we’re living through right now is behind us).
A New York Times bestseller
A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Kirkus Reviews called Love & Gelato “a sure bet for fans of romance fiction,” while VOYA said readers “will find it difficult to put this book down.” Readers are about to discover a new place, a new romance, and a new talent.
Photo credit: iStock / beralinka