12 Books to Read This Winter

As the weather cools down and you’re looking for a good book to read on your next plane ride (or delayed layover), here are some 2019 picks from Bedside Reading founder Jane Ubell-Meyer.

12 Books to Read This Winter

Looking for something to read for that long Thanksgiving flight? We’ve got you covered.

Book covers courtesy of the publishers

My favorite books take me to places I have never been. They keep me on the edge of my seat and keep me up all night. And as the holiday season fast approaches, not only do I get to enjoy more reading during the break as I travel, but I also have even more reason to gift books that I love. Here are 12 books for your favorite friends and, of course, you. Treat yourself.


Works of fiction that turn long flights into literary journeys

Book covers courtesy of the publishers

Riveting Fiction

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster)

In 1998 I discovered Alice Hoffman’s book Second Nature. Since then she has written more than 30 works of fiction. She only gets better. In The World That We Knew, we meet characters whose lives and friendships are shaped by the horrors of Europe during World War II. Hoffman, who is known for her poetic and magical themes, writes about loss, light, and love, and what makes us human in a world of good and evil.

Buy Now: amazon.com

Red at the Bone: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books)

Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming, brings us a new novel about two families from different social classes whose lives are intertwined because of an unexpected teenage pregnancy. The novel weaves the past and the present histories of the parents, their relatives, and the teenagers themselves in this poignant novel that explores the pressures, ambitions, and hopes that connect these families as they make life-altering decisions.

Buy Now: amazon.com

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (DoubleDay)

When the #MeToo movement took the country by storm, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale became a must-read classic (the Hulu show based on the books isn’t bad, either). Her follow-up book, The Testaments, is quickly making its way to everyone’s bookshelf. The story begins 15 years after the conclusion of The Handmaid’s Tale when three women’s lives intertwine and truth to power has a new meaning. How far will each woman go to live her own truth in this dystopian world?

Buy Now: amazon.com

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with Olive Kitteridge in 2009, and this year she returns with the life and struggles of the nuanced heroine. The town of Crosby, Maine, is center stage for the beloved Olive, who comes to terms with understanding who she is and the lives of those around her. The writing is smart, bittersweet, and brilliant. The much-awaited return of Olive is simply stunning.

Buy Now: amazon.com


Get beyond the symbolic persona to better understand real people like Elton John and RBG.

Book covers courtesy of the publishers

Compelling Personal Stories

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law by Jeffrey Rosen (Henry Holt and Co.)

Jeffrey Rosen is a veteran legal journalist, scholar, and president of the National Constitution Center and, most importantly, shares a deep friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rosen offers an intimate, inspiring, and often surprising look at her life and career through an extraordinary series of conversations between himself and RBG. The book’s candid discussions started in the 1990s and continue through today, offering insight into the world of this fascinating Supreme Court Justice.

Buy Now: amazon.com

The Beautiful Ones by Prince (Spiegel & Grau)

Prince is one of the greatest musical artists of all time but still, somehow, an enigma. The Beautiful Ones—a memoir he started before his unexpected passingtakes readers from his childhood to his untimely death, featuring never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks and lyric sheets, and his own words.

Buy Now: amazon.com

Me: Elton John Official Autobiography by Elton John (Henry Holt & Co.)

In this autobiography, musical genius and pop-star icon Elton John (born Reginald Dwight) peels back the layers of his life. From his early days growing up in London to his life on the stage, his ascendency to international pop star, and his struggles with substance addiction, Elton’s heartfelt words will move anyone as he embraces this next chapter of life filled with love and fatherhood.

Buy Now: amazon.com

Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols, as remembered by 150 of his closest friends by Ash Carter & Sam Kashner (Henry Holt & Co.)

Mike Nichols, the great American film and Broadway director, writer, and comedian, was born in Berlin and came to the United States to flee the Nazis. His films include The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Working Girl, The Birdcage, and so many more. This personal portrait of Nichols, who died in 2014, was drawn from candid conversations with his closest friends in show business and the arts, among them Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, and Lorne Michaels. The book is an intimate look behind the scenes of Nichols’s life, as told by the stars, moguls, playwrights, producers, comics, and crewmembers who stayed loyal to him for years.

Buy Now: amazon.com


Page turners perfect for lounging on a dreary day

Book covers courtesy of the publishers

Thrilling Mysteries

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan (William Morrow)

Sometimes, nothing is what it appears to be. Author Gilly Macmillan weaves a story told from three different perspectives. A young girl, Jocelyn, suffers the loss of being abandoned by a beloved nanny. Bitter and unforgiving, she eventually returns to the family’s lake house to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew. And when an unexpected visitor re-enters Jo’s life, her world crumbles. Who was the nanny? Why did she leave? Who is her mother?

Buy Now: amazon.com

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Investigative reporter and award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan’s new thriller The Murder List easily places her on top of the list of must-read “thriller” writers. Law student Rachel North is savvy enough to get a coveted internship with the powerful DA’s office in Boston. Rachel is smart, hungry for success, and would tell you that she always does the right thing. She’s married to a brilliant and faithful husband, one of Boston’s leading defense attorneys—but he’s the nemesis of Rachel’s new boss. When a cold case murder becomes “hot” again, the battle for justice and loyalty becomes a twisty high-stakes game of cat and mouse.

Buy Now: amazon.com

Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle (Oceanview Publishing)

Award-winning author Matt Coyle engrosses readers again with the sixth book in his Rick Cahill series. Disgraced ex-cop Rick Cahill receives a phone call about the death of Krista Landingham, his friend, mentor, and former partner on the Santa Barbara PD. He reluctantly attends her funeral in the city where he was accused of murdering his wife and is perceived as guilty in the eyes of the locals and police. The wounds and pain of his wife’s death is still an open case there. However, when Krista’s sister hires Rick to investigate her death, clues eventually lead him to the truth, not only about Krista’s death but also his wife’s. Rick is then forced to confront the horrific actions he’ll need to take to exact revenge and earn redemption.

Preorder Now: amazon.com

The Institute by Stephen King (Spiegel & Grau)

Luke Ellis is special: he’s about to enter MIT at age 12. But in the middle of the night in their quiet suburban neighborhood in Minneapolis, Luke’s parents are murdered and he’s kidnapped. When Luke wakes up, he’s in the Institute, a place where there are no exits. This is where children with paranormal and special gifts are forced to stay. Themes of good versus evil run rampant throughout this extraordinary novel.

Buy Now: amazon.com

Editor’s note: Bedside Reading places books in select hotels, allowing readers to enjoy new titles and even take them home for free. The Murder List and Lost Tomorrows are currently part of the program.

AFAR participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you purchase an item featured in this story. All products and services listed here are independently selected by AFAR journalists.

>>Next: The Best Books of 2019 to Pack for Your Next Trip

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