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Wintering: How I learned to flourish when life became frozen

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  70 reviews
How do you survive the ‘wintering’ phase of your life?

Wintering, the dormant periods in our lives, the dark moments we endure – which can be brought about through myriad of ways; from the death of a loved one to a sudden change in circumstances or mental health issues – can be lonely, damaging and catch us off guard.

Katherine May recounts her own year-long journey through
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 6th 2020 by Rider
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  273 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This time of Social Isolation seemed a timely moment to read about Wintering, about drawing back from the world through illness, depression, or simply from being too cold to engage with the world beyond. This book, part memoir, part researched observation shows how winter can bring strength, and inspiration as we bring different ways of coping to this most demanding of seasons. May looks at the animal world (bees for instance), at different cultures who know a lot about winter (the Finns for exa ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review appears on my blog along with many others at:

There are many reasons for reading a book, which is why the mix of reviews I undertake has such an eclectic feel to it, but one of the most satisfying is to learn from the wisdom of another’s experience. There is a lot of projection in modern life as we all try to put on a good face to the world via our various social media platforms, but how deep do we go in our conversations and relationships as a res
Jessica Ryn
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I count myself extremely blessed to have gained access to an early copy of Katherine May's 'Wintering.' Not only is it a VERY beautiful book, I found reading it an incredibly healing experience. So relatable, honest and authentic and it resonated with me on a very deep level. I enjoyed the gorgeous prose, the poignancy of personal story as well as the interesting nature aspects. Having endured periods of 'wintering' myself, I feel this book has presented me with a fresh perspective and some new ...more
Sadie Slater
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked Katherine May's The Electricity of Every Living Thing a great deal, and as someone who generally finds winter very difficult I was keen enough to read her new book, Wintering: How I learned to flourish when life became frozen that I bought a copy a couple of days after it was published last year. (It's the kind of book that I would normally put on my wish list, but my birthday is in May, and I thought it would make more sense to read a book about surviving winter while it actually is win ...more
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: selfhelp, ng, memoir
This book defies easy categorization. It is part memoir, part literary survey, part self-help, part meditation on our culture. I appreciated the author's moments of wry, sardonic humor amidst her journey through difficult times. This book is very much suited to our current moment, where we could all use a bit of a break from the constant barrage of anxiety-inducing concerns.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC for the purpose of an unbiased review.
When I came across the description of this book, I knew I had to read it. This is the story of one woman's journey through a "winter" of her life - a time where we have to hunker down, go into ourselves and retreat in order to heal. For May that was a period of illness and uncertainty, but there are many reasons why our lives enter winter. Grief, depression, heartbreak, fear. And that is why this book caught my attention, as I'm going through my own winter and am looking for the guiding light of ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written - perfect for these times - when we are all collectively wintering - thank you Katherine May.
Helen Bookwoods
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
2.5* I felt this book did not really work as a whole. It has an interesting premise that at a time of being emotionally 'frozen' we can learn to embrace the cold through observing the natural world in winter, as well as spiritual beliefs around the turning of the year, and cultures such as Finland and Iceland that have developed around harsh winter conditions. May shapes the narrative as a response to her own personal challenges - the problem for me is that (view spoiler) ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was supposed to be my ‘chapter a day’ book but once I started it I had to read on. This is not due to a driving plot but because it touched my own experience of down times, periods of feelings of pointlessness and periodic times when life seems dark with no clear way forward and no desire to find one.

In her exploration of how people confront physical winters as well as psychological ones May always find someone solace in other people’s ways of coping. She leads you on a journey through to b
Dilia Narduzzi
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really liked the writing in this book, very poetic, lyrical, beautiful words. I purchased this book from the UK in advance of its spring 2021 release date here in Canada. Winter is coming and I wanted to read it before Spring. Glad I did. Will be returning to it, I'm sure, during the frigid winter months. Metaphorical and literal winters always stump me, and this book offers a new way of looking at those fallow times.

In places, the book seemed a little unmoored, focusing on other people's sto
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I actually give this book 4.5 isn’t quite what I had expected it to be, but that is probably a good thing. I really like that for me, the main point of the book, with out being an annoying ‘tag line’ is that life is constantly fluctuating, cycling. There are inevitable events which cause everyone dark times, and unfortunately there unexpected events that can cause that too, but she’s reminding us that it’s okay to stay in those dark times and get through them by ‘hibernating’ and heal ...more
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whether living with depression and anxiety or occasional low moods Wintering is a treasure trove of soothing words, incredible nature lessons and observations and tales of winter in extremely cold locations. So many words of wisdom for living in our day-to-day existences: emotional first aid.
Daniel Jr.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, wise, filled with riches.
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, nature
Poetic and insightful. Simply beautiful. It deftly brought forward memories of living in the countryside.
Val Robson
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
This book was not what I expected. It is titled "Wintering: How I learned to flourish when life became frozen" which I thought meant that it was about how to deal with depression. It does address that subject but it is mainly about how the season of winter is prepared for by people and animals in various places around the world..

The author speaks about how depression has overtaken her but occasionally muses that maybe she is almost revelling in her melancholy. mood.. "I wonder if perhaps I am a
Laura McToal
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Katherine May uses 'Wintering' as a metaphor for depression. She describes how depression is something she has regularly experienced and, as she feels the next one coming, she aims to prepare for it in the same way that people in Norway prepare for actual Winter. She also compares how creatures like bees prepare for winter.
Despite talking about interesting traditions in other countries and describing the Northern Lights in fantastic, captivating detail, this was not a great read for me. I suspe
Ramona Cherciu
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mindful
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katy Chessum-Rice
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The year will move on either way, but by paying attention to it, feeling its beat, and noticing the moments of transition - perhaps even taking time to think about what we want from the next phase in the year - we can get the measure of it."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautiful, gentle, insightful meander through the season of 'Winter' and what it means to Katherine May. Whilst May touches on her own experience of depression and some of the events that have built up to phases of 'winterin
Pam Sartain
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wintering, How I learned to flourish when life became frozen, is a book that I read a little while ago, and only now, whilst writing the review in this time of Coronavirus, do I realise how needed this book is.

It's about accepting that at times you need to withdraw, and that you can't do everything with enthusiasm and bounce.  That at times you need to take time for you.

Katherine May discovers Wintering when she is ill, her husband is seriously ill, and when both of them are getting better, her
Katie (readingwithkt)
I loved the concept of this book and really liked Katherine May’s other book, The Electricity of Every Living Thing, however this book just didn’t work for me. I felt, as a reader, that this story would have better fit the format of a magazine or news article, rather than a book.

I read 30% and struggled to connect with it in the way I had hoped to. At the section in which Katherine visits Iceland, I really struggled with the book. As somebody who lives in Iceland, there were just too many inaccu
I am grateful to NetGalley for my free advance copy of this book.

‘This is the easy time, there is nothing doing’. The words of Sylvia Plath, from her poem ‘Wintering’, which gave its name to this gentle memoir by English writer Katherine May.

Winter is the time of year that many of us dread, and May looks at winter here, in this meandering memoir, both as something concrete (this time of year) but also as a metaphor of the bleaker times in our lives, when things feel heavy, downward, exhausting.
Elaine Aldred
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On the face of it, Wintering is a book with all the potential for a litany of misery. Instead Katherine May makes her medical misfortune a contemplative exercise and a wonderful example of seeing and thinking about the world around her and her location within it. For that alone it is worth any writer reading Wintering for inspiration.

The mosaic of experiences works really well as May explores everything that shuts down or copes with overwintering, both the season or as a result of illness. This
Angela Watt
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Among my friends, I know I am considered unusual because of my love of Winter. It's a tough decision for me on whether Autumn or Winter is my favourite season. This book, therefore, called out to me, and I'm so glad it did.

It is beautifully written touching on many aspects of Winter, but the one concept that grabbed my attention was that each of us might go through personal periods of Winter (those times when life seems darker and colder - whatever the season). I'd not come across this before,
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2020
Wintering is a delightful book that draws parallels with the way the natural world adapts to survive (and even thrive in) winter and the invariable "winters" that human beings go through in life "where you fall through the cracks for a while, and spend a season out in the cold".

In a mix of self-help, memoir and nature writing, Katherine May writes perceptively and quite beautifully about the cyclic nature of life, both in the physical world through the seasons and in our emotional landscape. Fa
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I managed to finish reading both 'H is for Hawk' and 'Wintering' in the same week. And I have to say, I was surprised by my own reaction.

Originally, I thought I was going to enjoy May's 'Wintering' more than Macdonald's 'H is for Hawk' because it sounded so much more relatable in terms of, what May calls, 'wintering periods'. I lost my grandad in 2016, then my nan (who was actually like a second mother to me) in 2018. For me those two years were probably the hardest time of my life and definite
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very beautiful book but very hard to describe or review really. It’s not quite essays, it’s not quite a memoir. It’s about winter, hunkering down, facing up to life, mental health, and many many other things. Ms May says -

"Winter is a quiet house in lamplight, stepping into the garden to see bright stars on a clear night, the roar of the wood burning stove, and the accompanying smell of charred wood. It is warming the teapot and making cups of bitter cocoa; it is stews magicked from bo
Kaylyn Magee
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, thank you to Katherine May for writing this book, and a HUGE thank you to Ariana Abad for asking me to read it! Reading Wintering was almost like reading excerpts from my own diary. I connected with many of the thoughts and feelings May described within each page; struggling to feel anything other than tired, depressed, anxious... Each new thought and description brought something personal to the surface. However, May’s experience of learning how to survive and simply live through the har ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely and deeply painful".

Katherine May's own "Wintering" comes on the heels of a sudden illness within her immediate family. Struggling to get back on an even keel, Katherine finds herself seeking strength and comfort from others who have wintered, thr
Lynn Fraser
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is part memoir and part exploration of what it is for people and lands to experience winter, that season of shutdown when we stop growing and hunker down waiting for the return of the sun. May says that, rather than winter being a final shutdown, ‘we live through a thousand winters in our lives – some big, some small’. We may experience winter as grief or a period of poor mental or physical health. Wintering, she says, ‘is the active acceptance of sadness’. She advocates not just takin ...more
Gem ~ Bee
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I purchased this book many months ago just as we were entering lockdown thinking it would be a tonic to get us through, however things took a while as all the printers and warehouses closed etc so I received it some weeks in and it no longer felt the 'right time' to read it. Approaching October now (& still feeling the restrictions/lockdown thinking) I picked it up of my shelf to burrow down and absorb its wisdom for the coming months.
Oh yes, this is such a beautiful book.
I think you can appro
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“Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.” 0 likes
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