For adepts of the absurd

The Castle by Franz Kafka (Goodreads)

On the surface, The Castle is yet another of the famous absurdist writer’s journeys into the bewildering world of bureaucracy. But it is also a contemplation on the flow of time, loneliness, and the human need for connection. To quote The Guardian“This is a novel best read in deepest winter, particularly when the daily trials of working life are made acute by morning and evening commutes in shivery darkness.” Indeed, Kafka’s descriptions of a cold world populated by people seeking warmth make it a great read for anyone who appreciates the strangeness and unreality of wintertime.

For spacefarers

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Goodreads)

An ambassador from Earth arrives to an unfamiliar, icy planet where he encounters people whose way of life – and, indeed, their very nature – is completely foreign to his own. As befits this legendary sci-fi pioneer, Le Guin masterfully crafts a rich, fascinating world full of political intrigue while tackling complex themes of identity, culture, and self-determination. The Left Hand of Darkness will transport you to faraway lands and tell a gripping story while giving food for thought – a perfect choice for a reflective reader.

The Himalayas. Credit: Atul Bhat (@atulbhats) via Unsplash

The Himalayas. Credit: Atul Bhat (@atulbhats) via Unsplash

For lovers of the extreme

The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt (Goodreads)

In this non-fiction account, the famed Soviet-Kazakh mountaineer Boukreev relays his experience during the notorious 1996 Mount Everest disaster. If you’ve already read the other famous account, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, or watched the 2015 film Everest, this book will serve as a great companion piece. If not, be ready to dive head-first into an adrenaline-filled story of perseverance. The Climb is not only a thrilling read, but also a detailed account of the strange way of life led by those who aspire to reach the top of the world.

For trench-coat wearers

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre (Goodreads)

When it comes to the spy genre, few authors are as iconic as John le Carre – an intelligence agent-turned-storyteller whose works prove that tales of espionage are far more than airport bookstore pulp fiction. His characters are living, feeling, complicated individuals who seek their own purpose amid a game of chess played by global superpowers. The Spy (…), one of his best-known works, is a story of double agents, doomed romance, and mind games that takes place across a snowy Europe – and, appropriately enough, in the midst of the Cold War. Perfect reading scenario? Hop on a scenic tram route, pull your collar up, check for a tail, and dig in.

Further reading

Looking for even more reading recommendations? Here are some more suggestions from us and ITMO Library:

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

  • A Young Doctor’s Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov

  • Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

  • The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

  • The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman