Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

As we end a year that has required more patience and fortitude than most, there may be no better balm to our collective soul than Katherine May’s Wintering. After being set back on her heels by a difficult year, May decided to examine both her personal ‘winter’ along with the coldest months of the year. She finds rebirth in swimming frozen waters and how stillness is required to grasp the beauty of the Aurora Borealis. Along the way May reminds us of rhythm of healing found both in nature and various cultures around the world. Her beautiful descriptions of the more challenging months of the year point out a fact that is too often missed as we rush about—that times of healing and renewal are vital to a healthy and happy life.

— From Elaine and Luisa's Picks: Fall 2020


Every bit as beautiful and healing as the season itself. . . . This is truly a beautiful book. —Elizabeth Gilbert

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 attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May's story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

About the Author

Katherine May is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her journalism and essays have appeared in a range of publications including The Times (London), Good Housekeeping, and Cosmopolitan. She lives by the sea in Whitstable, England and is an avid lover of the outdoors.

Praise For…

Wintering is every bit as beautiful and healing as the season itself. Katherine May thoughtfully examines the emotional, spiritual, and geographical reality of the cold times, the dark days, and those periods of our lives when things are neither soft nor easy. In so doing, she offers a great and humane service to her readers: she shows us that wintering cannot be avoided, but need not be feared. This is truly a beautiful book.” – #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert
“Wintering is the book equivalent of a perfectly timed hug you didn’t know you needed, a warm blanket on a cold day. So many books about adversity focus on ways to get away from the discomfort, and this book so wonderfully and sincerely says it's okay to be here, even when it hurts. It's exactly what the world needs right now.” – Nora McInerny, host of Terrible, Thanks for Asking
“Enthralling…[May] has a gift for unleashing unexpected comedy…There is so much to treasure here…Her sensual connoisseurship a joy.” – The Guardian
“May brings a poet’s eye and unexpected comedy to this enthralling celebration of our fallow season.” London Observer

“An empowering and touching read that will inspire a survivalist spirit on even the darkest days of winter.”Town & Country UK
“An elegant investigation into the consolations of nature and how it can be wonderfully restorative even on the bleakest of days.” – Sunday Express

“A beautifully written mix of memoir and philosophy...With a pandemic keeping us isolated in so many ways, May offers much-needed solace and comfort and a reminder that seasons eventually turn.” - starred Booklist   

“An intimate meditation on solitude and transformation...A serene evocation of a dark season.” –Kirkus Reviews

“In this elegant memoir, journalist May finds beauty and transformation in a difficult period of her life… May’s evocative ode to retreat will appeal to fans of Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living.”Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593189481
ISBN-10: 0593189485
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Pages: 256