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Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
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Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  27,751 ratings  ·  4,011 reviews
An intimate, revelatory book exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down.

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped
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Hardcover, 241 pages
Published November 10th 2020 by Riverhead Books (first published February 6th 2020)
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  • Wintering by Katherine May
    Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

    Release date: Nov 10, 2020
    Enter for a chance to win 1 of 50 finished copies of WINTERING by Katherine May! Look out for Katherine May's forthcoming book ENCHANTMENT! ...more

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    Giveaway dates: Oct 01 - Oct 14, 2022

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    Kerry It was GI issues and she changed her diet to something with white carbs and she felt much better immediately. It made sense that her GI could make her…moreIt was GI issues and she changed her diet to something with white carbs and she felt much better immediately. It made sense that her GI could make her miserable, and since it was in her stomach, once she stopped eating kale etc and go that out of her stomach she would be better. I loved this book btw.(less)
    Kerry The book is short enough that you can finish in two days. I read it in order at the end I was glad I did it that way. I think a re-read of dipping in …moreThe book is short enough that you can finish in two days. I read it in order at the end I was glad I did it that way. I think a re-read of dipping in would work. I am glad I first read it start to finish. I think folks mentioned this is a good book to stretch out (savor) by reading one month at a time. I hope you like it, it was wonderful to me. Such a surprise.(less)

    Community Reviews

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    Average rating 3.89  · 
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     ·  27,751 ratings  ·  4,011 reviews


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    Babbs
    Dec 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I picked this up after hearing the author read an excerpt on NPR and am torn on how to rate it. I love the concept of wintering, allowing yourself to see the beauty in things once only endured or at best tolerated, and the author’s writing style is nearly poetic in nature.

    All this being said, this book is written from a point of extreme privilege and had several moments that reminded me too much of a hallmark special where everything works out in the end. The author never acknowledges that the
    ...more
    Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Can there be a more perfect book to read as the year winds down? Katherine May looks at wintering from a number of perspectives including viewing the aurora borealis, the time she lost her voice, seasonal affective disorder, and more, including how most of nature rests for transformation in the winter. And we should too!

    This is a new title so might be good for gifts for your older, reflective relative. Maybe alongside a book of poetry by Mary Oliver or Barbara Kingsolver.

    I had a review copy of t
    ...more
    Barbara K
    I need to start this review by saying that I really did enjoy this book. May writes well, lyrically, confidentially, quietly drawing you in to her message. Which is, generally speaking, that at times life presents you with circumstances from which it is in your best interests to retreat. Health issues, financial issues, career problems, emotional breakdowns, relationship breakups. Even my personal bete noir, seasonal affective disorder, which had no name at the time but plagued my childhood and ...more
    Brandice
    Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times is an excellent read during this time of year. It serves as a reminder to slow down, assess how you feel (the need to retreat, for more sleep, a desire to reorganize, whatever it may be) and act on those feelings.

    Author Katherine May shares her experiences wintering (verb), which will of course vary from person to person. Not everyone is in a position to cope the same way May does, but I do think most will relate to the desire to seek
    ...more
    ✨H✨
    Dec 13, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
    2.5

    Sadly, this book wasn't what I expected.

    It felt like someone was sharing key moments of their life so basically a memoir. Maybe that could have worked for me had I been able to relate to her.

    The author did finish each chap by incorporating how we could learn something from the mentioned incident that could help us in wintering. But in most of these cases the message seemed to be manipulated from the story rather than them being an obvious takeaway. I felt like most of the incidents really di
    ...more
    Jennifer
    Mar 19, 2021 rated it liked it
    This is a book born of massive privilege, by an author who seems almost entirely unconscious of her privileges. If you work because you have to and do not have the luxury of quitting your job to be one with the winter (intermixed with traveling to Iceland, preserving random vegetables, and swanning around Stonehenge at winter solstice), you might end up feeling a bit resentful about this one.

    And that's a shame because Katherine May writes beautifully, thinks interestingly, and observes astutely
    ...more
    Margaret
    Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Jessica Ryn
    Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Lili
    Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
    I wanted to like this book. At first I thought it was self-help, then I realised it's meant to be more like a memoir. It's actually a jumbled and disjointed series of non-chronological anecdotes along with dry philosophical musings.

    The author was diagnosed with autism in adulthood, just as I was, so I thought I'd feel something in common with her way of thinking.

    Sadly, no. Autism is barely mentioned , which is fine as it's not the point of the book, but I just couldn't sympathize with her point
    ...more
    Kat
    Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
    An interesting, though altogether dissatisfying read. For the North American release, the book was given a bit of a rebranding - an undeniably gorgeous and "instagrammable" cover and an entirely new title (original title: "Wintering: How I Learned to Flourish When Life Became Frozen"). While both titles are misleading, the original title is more representative as the book is a study in navel-gazing, self-pity and boasting.

    I was put off from the start when the author whinged (a theme of what was
    ...more
    Laura McToal
    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
    ...more
    Cindy Rollins
    Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2021
    I loved this book. Last year I picked up Range on a whim because I loved the title and that book was a home run read. Wintering was another title that pulled me in without knowing anything about the book. It wasn’t a home run but it was a very good book. I won’t summarize but the last chapter about singing exactly paralleled so much I have been thinking about before picking up the book. In general this book along with our house in the woods have almost made winter my new favorite season.
    Val Robson
    Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ...more
    Debbi
    Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
    Shelves: unfinished
    Memoir/Self-help/Personal Essays. I made it 2/3 through the book before I set it down. I don't love self-help books, but memoirs can be interesting and I love essays about the natural world. I thought I would give this a try. The author suffers health problems which she identifies as her winter, she puts forward that we all have our personal winters, I believe this is true and yet, I wasn't moved. She flies off to Iceland during a fragile pregnancy because she needs the cold. She decides to have ...more
    Rebecca
    May’s sympathetic memoir considers winter not only as a literal season, but also as an emotional state. Although “depression” could be substituted for “wintering” in most instances, the book gets much metaphorical mileage out of the seasonal reference as she recounts how she attempted to embrace rather than resist the gloom and chill through rituals such as a candlelit St. Lucia service and an early morning solstice gathering at Stonehenge. Wintering alternates travel and research, and mind and ...more
    Cheryl
    Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    THIS BOOK!!! EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. And what comfort there is in discovering the camaraderie we share with our fellow human beings and all of creation. There couldn't have been a more perfect first read of the year, perfect for me right now. ...more
    Kelly
    I am wintering. That’s the wheel of the year I'm on. As a teacher, I don't get to winter in the actual winter. From September to late May, I sometimes feel that I hang in suspension above the usual round of life. I become a functional being- I sleep, I pour everything I have into work ten hours a day, six days a week, I do whatever I can convince my body and mind to do to recover after that each day, I collapse full out on Saturdays, and start the cycle once more. I feel out of time in the worst ...more
    Beth Bonini
    4.5 stars

    At its base, this is not a book about beauty, but about reality. It is about noticing what's going on, and living it. That's what the natural world does: it carries on surviving. Sometimes it flourishes - lays on fat, garlands itself in leaves, makes abundant honey - and sometimes it pares back to the very basics of existence in order to keep living. It doesn't do this once, resentfully, assuming that one day it will get things right and everything will smooth out. It winters in cycl
    ...more
    Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)
    Ok, I'm just going to come out and say it.

    I don't think Katherine May understands what winter actually is, and she's probably the last person on Earth who should be writing an entire book about it.

    *Phew* glad I got that off my chest.

    In all seriousness, this read like a parody (with the exception of the moments that touched on mental health), and I found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of it all.

    At one point, she made a massive deal about children in Finland, I believe, who have to
    ...more
    Julie
    In her prologue Katherine May introduces her topic by talking of how "winter is not the death of the life cycle but its crucible." It is a time for withdrawing from the world at large to reflect and replenish to restore and transform.

    She's selling winter and I'm buying it!

    Meaningful quotes:

    "Winter is a time for the quiet arts of making: for knitting and sewing, baking and simmering, repairing and restoring our homes."

    "In Summer I want big splashy ideas and trashy novels devoured in a garden ch
    ...more
    Carole
    Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May is a quiet book that reminds us that we are in charge of taking care of ourselves. Paying attention to our body and mind leads to recognizing when we need more care and to doing something about it. I listened to the audiobook version and enjoyed the peaceful reading of the book, as sound and logical advice is put forward. Highly recommended, especially in these difficult pandemic times.
    Diane S ☔
    Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: nfr-2020
    Thoughts soon.
    Dee
    Mar 20, 2022 rated it really liked it
    I think anyone can find something to enjoy about this book. This takes the title wintering and throughout explains how each of us at some point or another go through either a difficult or extremely hard patch. Either with outside issues or within ourselves.
    This is not a heavy book in which we delve into ourselves or want to avoid reading through difficult issues. This book talks a couple of individual's and the writters struggles with a depression or low patches(wintering). In which we go throug
    ...more
    Helen Bookwoods
    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
    jenny✨
    katherine may writes such gorgeous, lush prose!

    this book was undoubtedly a delight to savour. i just didn't expect it to be quite so literal; i wasn't anticipating such a focus on seasons and nature, cold climes and northern, nordic cultures. it was interesting reading, but took me somewhat by surprise—i think i'd been expecting more of a self-help book shot through with literary references and psychological and sociological research.

    the author writes, at the end:
    At its base, this is not a bo
    ...more
    Jerrie
    Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
    While I felt this essay collection got off to a rocky start, I ultimately found it soothingly wise. The author relates the time she experienced a personal, metaphorical winter by reference to actual experience of the winter months (northern hemisphere). I think this is a great read to put those of us heading into what may be a difficult winter into a healthy and relaxed frame of mind for riding it out.
    Brendan Monroe
    Whether the weather be fine,
    Or whether the weather be not,
    Whether the weather be cold,
    Or whether the weather be hot,
    We'll weather the weather
    Whatever the weather,
    Whether we like it or not!


    I was put in mind of this classic little children's poem while reading "Wintering," which is essentially the poem in book form ... but without the rhyming and with a good deal more whining.

    Sometimes when I read something only to find that it was not at all what I was expecting, I find that I managed to fo
    ...more
    JimZ
    May 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I’m torn between 3 or 4 stars for this book. Wait, I’ll take the easy way out and give it 3.5 stars, and then therefore rounding up makes it 4 stars. Right? 😊

    The book is broken up into the months from early hints of winter (September) to full blown winter to the vestiges/remnants of winter and the hearkening of spring (March). The author writes about her own personal winter…she has learned over time to take rough weather (negative events) that occurs to her or to others around her and accept the
    ...more
    Kate Olson
    Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I just finished and want to immediately start over. I honestly can’t think of a more perfect book for this time - November of 2020 - but also for anyone going into their own wintering because of hardship, illness or loss. If you are able, you must listen to this one - the narration is soothing and takes the writing to the next level. I want more and more.
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    491 followers
    Katherine May is an internationally bestselling author and podcaster living in Whitstable, UK. Her hybrid memoir Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times became a New York Times, Sunday Times and Der Spiegel bestseller, was adapted as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and was shortlisted for the Porchlight and Barnes and Noble Book of the Year. The Electricity of Every Living Thin ...more

    Articles featuring this book

    Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we receive correspondence from all over the planet, and every summer we hear from our friends in the...
    29 likes · 10 comments
    “We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.” 50 likes
    “If happiness is a skill, then sadness is, too. Perhaps through all those years at school, or perhaps through other terrors, we are taught to ignore sadness, to stuff it down into our satchels and pretend it isn’t there. As adults, we often have to learn to hear the clarity of its call. That is wintering. It is the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can. Wintering is a moment of intuition, our true needs felt keenly as a knife.” 49 likes
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