Five Classic Novels That Will Help You Escape The Winter Blues

In the winter, when the thermometer dives below freezing and the world disappears between a few feet of snow, it’s easy to start daydreaming about warmer climates. You might find yourself thinking of beaches and palm trees as you dig your car out of a shell of ice. You might find yourself longing for fruity cocktails and warm, ocean breezes as the winter wind whips against your face. No matter the details, it’s more than likely that you’re well acquainted with this kind of fantasy…

Unfortunately, not everybody is in a position to escape to the warmer climates they daydream about, as they’re frozen in place by demanding jobs, restrictive budgets and other obligations.

The good news is that those that are unable to migrate south for the winter can find respite in the world of literature. There are countless books set in warm destinations all over the world, any number of which can offer a momentary escape from the howling wind and swirling snow.

Here are five sun-soaked novels we recommend. Crank up the heat, throw on some shorts, and get reading.

The Beach by Alex Garland (set in Thailand)
Today, Alex Garland is one of the most respected screenwriters and directors in Hollywood, having helped bring films like 28 Days Later, Ex-Machina and Annihilation to the big screen. Yet his career began with a tremendously popular novel: The Beach.

Set on the balmy beaches of Thailand, this novel is an awesome escape from winter weather. Just don’t be upset when the story takes a turn that no visitor to Thailand would ever want to endure.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (set in Morocco)
On the truly cold days, even harsh, desert climates start to sound appealing. That’s just what you’ll get in The Sheltering Sky, a true classic by Paul Bowles.

Set in Northern Africa, this sun-scorched novel weaves a tail of existential dread and of the darker sides of travel. It’s not exactly a feel-good story, but Bowles paints such a vivid picture of the North African climate that you might actually start sweating as your read.

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (set in Puerto Rico)
Long before he penned his best known work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, legendary Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson authored a book called The Rum Diary.

This book is set in Puerto Rico, and tells the tale of a young journalist who is swept up in a nefarious plot to develop an untouched piece of paradise. Best of all, it surges with just the kind of pithy, colourful language Dr. Thompson is known for, which means you will literally be transported to the places you’re reading about. Don’t forget sunscreen.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (set in Australia)
Bill Bryson, the man behind books like A Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island and The Lost Continent, is one of the greatest travel writers ever, and In a Sunburned Country (also published as Down Under) is one of his greatest works.

This book, which unlike the others on this list is non-fiction, follows Bryson on an extensive and often hilarious trip across the sizzling Australian continent. It’s easily one of the most loved novels ever written about the The Land Down Under, and within the first few pages, you’ll have forgotten that that’s -20 outside.

To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (set in Key West and Cuba)
To Have and Have Not isn’t the best known of the great Ernest Hemingway’s many works, but it is easily one of the best.

This one tells the story of contraband smuggler, and the chaotic missions he makes between sun-soaked Key West, Florida and Cuba. Best of all, it’s a delightfully bite-sized read, which makes it an excellent choice for those of us with short attention spans.

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is a globetrotting writer currently based in Ottawa, Canada. He covers mixed martial arts for Fightland and Vice Sports, and freelances for a number of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TomTayMMA.

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