Why brave the cold to battle the crowds when there’s a stack of incredible reads just waiting to be devoured? In this season of thoughtfulness and reflection comes a handful of must-reads that will make you thankful you shop online and stay far away from the Black Friday crowds.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

In Unsheltered, author Barbara Kingsolver explores the human capacity for resiliency in precarious times through the story of two families living two centuries apart. Willa Knox and her husband’s lives are in upheaval in spite of living life by the rules. In Thatcher Greenwood’s story, his life’s work is silenced at the risk of controversy. Can they still find compassion and a reason to move on?

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

When 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a spy and tasked with monitoring the movements of British Fascist sympathizers, she finds the work tedious and terrifying. But more than a decade later, when an assumed identity comes back to haunt her, so does the  realization that her work has greater consequences than she ever imagined.

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery

National Book Award finalist and naturalist Sy Montgomery invites readers into her adventurous world by exploring the parallels in love, empathy, gratitude and forgiveness found across humankind and the animal kingdom. In her memoir she shares about 13 animals she encountered in her world travels, and the experiences that now allow her to call these creatures her friends.

Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

Set during the holiday season amid the picturesque Idaho mountains, Season of Wonder is a heartwarming story about finding home. When Dani Capelli’s ex-husband dies and creates a media frenzy, she jumps at the chance to leave New York with her daughters and take over a veterinarian practice in Idaho. But the adjustment to small-town life is more than she bargained for – and both her family’s happiness and her heart are at risk.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

When a glamorous couple moves in below Frances Jellico, she is both dazzled and fixated – and through a peephole in the floorboards, she slowly becomes obsessed. As her new neighbors transform into friends over lavish dinners, wine and hot summer days, Frances discovers something is very, very wrong. A small crime grows into an unspeakable one – one that will change all their lives forever.

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

In this smart, insightful memoir, the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs candidly examines her charmed childhood of mansions, vacations, private schools, and a cold, critical, often-absent father. In her teen years when the relationship with her mother became strained, she moved in with her father. With hopes that he’d become a role model, she could never have prepared herself for the experiences that followed.

Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

When Josie Avery takes a cooking position in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder, she knows it’s just a temporary gig. After all, her dream job as a sous chef in Seattle is waiting for her in the fall. But she didn’t expect to meet and fall for the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon. Could she sacrifice her career to stay in this isolated town with a man she’s quickly coming to love?

(Feature image courtesy of @sixminutesforme)