12 Perfect Rainy Day Reads

715 Shares

When rain falls, books call. Answer the summons with one of these novels that are perfect for cozy, rainy day reading at home. These rainy day reads might just make you wish for grey days!

A rainy window

Books to Read on a Rainy Day

Close your eyes for a minute (when you’re done reading this sentence), and answer this question: What would you most want to do if it was wet and gray outdoors, but you were snug inside with time to spend as you pleased?

There. Did you close your eyes and imagine it? I bet at least one of the scenarios you considered involved a cozy blanket, the welcoming arms of a comfortable chair, and above all a good novel. There’s nothing like a rainy day to get one in the mood for curling up with a book!

While any volume will do, some books seem especially suited for rainy days. I’ve compiled a list of 12 suggestions to keep on your “in case of rain” bookshelf. (Figuratively speaking, of course, since you probably don’t actually have a designated shelf for rainy day reading. But perhaps you should?)

12 Ideal Books for Rainy Days

Hodder & Stoughton paperback edition of Stormy Petrel - Scottish landscape

1. Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart

What better rainy day read than a book that takes place in rainy Scotland? Grab a wool blanket and your Scottish breakfast tea and head to the Hebrides with Rose Fenemore, a Cambridge professor who finds herself in need of a break from academic life. Rose settles into a rustic cottage and prepares to enjoy a holiday full of writing and long walks. She gets a bit more intrigue and excitement than she bargained for when two mysterious strangers turn up on her doorstep.

Here are 6 other books set in Scotland, if you want to stay in this part of the world for awhile longer. And here’s a Mary Stewart profile, if you’re new to this author,

Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre - woman braiding hair

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” Thus begins Jane Eyre, a novel that starts literally and metaphorically in the pouring rain, but ends when “The rain is over and gone, and there is a tender shining after it.” On a cozy rainy day, reading (or re-reading) a well-loved classic is a natural choice. Jane Eyre contains all the nuances of sunshine and shadow; it can be read deeply for its symbolism, or simply enjoyed as a very good tale.

Related: Here’s a guide to the Brontë sisters and all of their novels!

Barnes and Noble hardcover edition of The Secret Garden - floral background

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

If Jane Eyre seems a little daunting for you, try a shorter novel set in the same Yorkshire moor country. The Secret Garden is a children’s novel that shares many of the Gothic elements present in Jane Eyre: a gloomy mansion with locked doors, old family secrets and tragedies, cries in the night, and a telepathic summons that brings a wanderer home.

For more Gothic novels for rainy days, check out my list of 7 classics.

Paperback edition of The Woman in Cabin 10 - rainy window at sea

4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Sometimes an unexpected rainy day makes me want to cast away my current reads and pick up something I can sail through quickly, and a Ruth Ware thriller always fits that bill. (Ware is one of my favourite contemporary authors!) The Woman in Cabin 10 is set on a small (claustrophobic) luxury cruise ship. One night, journalist Lo Blacklock witnesses a woman being thrown overboard. But when she tries to investigate, she finds that all evidence of the crime has vanished–and all the ship’s passengers and crew are accounted for.

Note: Ruth Ware’s books contain rough language and substance abuse, so ye be warned.

Paperback copy of Towards Zero - illustration of tennis court

5. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

Rainy days are always good days for reading an Agatha Christie mystery! Honestly, any Christie you have to hand will do! (Here’s a guide to all of Agatha Christie’s books.) However, if you’re looking for a less well known Christie that’s also one of her better ones, see if you can get your hands on a copy of Towards Zero. It features Superintendent Battle in the detective role, and it’s unusual in the fact that the murder occurs later in the book. The murder is the “zero point” that all the events and characters are converging towards, which helps build anticipation as you read.

Black and white cover art for The House on the Strand

6. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

I remember quite a bit of weather and water in The House on the Strand, which takes place in Cornwall. The narrator, Dick Young, takes a hallucinogenic drug that transports him back in time to the 14th century, where he is able to witness events but not engage in them himself. Fascinated, Dick takes more drug “trips” into the past, but as he does his two worlds became increasingly more entangled in his mind. This story has just the right pitch of psychological suspense you’d expect from a du Maurier novel, with a sinister undercurrent that keeps you turning pages well past your bedtime.

Paperback edition of Out of the Silent Planet - color illustration of Malacandra

7. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

I love how Lewis’s sci-fi classic begins: Elwin Ransom is on a walking tour of the English countryside, and seeks shelter one stormy night in a remote estate. Once inside, he is drugged by two unscrupulous men who have been using the house for their scientific experiments. He awakes to find himself abducted and en route to Mars, where he will serve as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. This book is the first in a trilogy, which is alternately disturbing, fantastical, beautiful, and thought-provoking. It’s a series that begs for multiple readings, which is quite appropriate since its author was a firm believer in re-reading books.

Related: Learn more about C. S. Lewis and his literary circle, the Inklings, here.

Jazz by Toni Morrison - yellow text on a purple background

8. Jazz by Toni Morrison

I love listening to the cadence of the rain, whether it’s a tempest or a drizzle or a sudden shift from one to the other. For a book that matches, to my mind, rain’s unpredictable rhythms, Morrison’s lyrical novel Jazz is a perfect pick. It tells the story of an unhappily married, middle-aged couple living in Harlem in the 1920s. While the setting is of course famous for its contribution to jazz music, the story isn’t about musicians. Rather, the narrative structure itself is a tribute to the musical style, with improvisations, stylistic “themes” for each character’s perspective, and variations on the themes as they weave in and out of the story. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to explain…but when you read it, you feel it.

Everyman's Library edition of Washington Square - painting of woman walking in a park

9. Washington Square by Henry James

Henry James is an eloquent writer, and sitting down with one of his books is like partaking in a delicious meal you want to savor. Washington Square is one of his short novels–you could read the bulk of it in one rain-smattered afternoon. It’s a drawing-room drama, set in 1840’s New York. The events and characters revolve around 21-year-old Catherine Sloper, a Fanny Price type heroine who must [seemingly] choose between her overbearing father and a suitor who may or may not be after her fortune.

Puffin classics edition of Daddy-Long-Legs - girl writing letters in a tree

10. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

This comfortable rainy day read follows the story of Judy, an orphan who receives a college scholarship from a mysterious benefactor. One condition of Judy’s scholarship is that she must write letters to her benefactor, whom she addresses by the nickname of “Daddy Long Legs.” This epistolary novel is Judy’s letters, which are vivid and funny and give you a piece-by-piece unfolding of Judy’s character and growth. Judy’s college life reminds me a bit of Anne Shirley’s time at Queen’s Academy and at Redmond College.

Hardcover copy of Mr. Bliss - Tolkien's illustration of Mr. Bliss in a tall hat with his motor car in the background

11. Mr. Bliss by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is not actually a novel, but a very long picture book that Tolkien wrote and illustrated for his children! It’s a zany tale about a man who acquires a new car, drives it recklessly, and falls into many misadventures as a result. For this one, make some popcorn and read it to your kids when the rain keeps you stuck indoors.

Leatherbound edition of Grimm's fairy tales - forest cover art

12. Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Stormy night? Tuck yourself into bed with a few classic fairy tales. Grimm’s are odd and silly and magical and certainly a bit grim at times, too. If you get a complete volume (with over 200 tales) you’ll find plenty of familiar stories, as well as ones you forgot or never knew existed.

What do you think is the best book for a rainy day?

Girl reading on the couch with blankets and a mug

12 Perfect Rainy Day Reads
715 Shares

Join Our Society!
Reawaken your passion for reading by discovering books you love and connecting with like-minded readers.

21 Comments

  1. Have you ever read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George? That’s the first thing that popped into my mind on reading your articles. He’s a bookseller on a boat that moves from town to town. He won’t sell books people want, he sells them what they need. And of course there’s something he needs that he is having difficulty facing.

    I created a new book shelf on my Goodreads account with your suggestions, even if I can’t have a physical one!

    1. No, I haven’t read that one! I think I know what the cover looks like, though. It might even be on my TBR. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I am a new member of the Tea and Ink Society and truly enjoying it!! Going to try Daddy Long Legs from your list today. Have you ever read the Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery? It is my absolute favorite of hers. I’d love to hear your opinion of it sometime.

    1. Welcome, Tara! Thanks for saying hi! Oh yes, yes, yes I’ve read The Blue Castle. It is a treasure of a novel, and definitely on my list of Nearest & Dearest. My opinion of TBC is that it’s like a secret garden, a literary “happy place.” For a certain kind of book lover (of which I am one), The Blue Castle is the ideal escape. Valancy’s escape to Mistawis embodies our own need and desire to slip away from the pressures and constraints of our lives. When we escape into the novel, the beauty in it re-enchants our view of the world so that when we come home to ordinary we find it lit up with those transcendent rays.

  3. Hello all! Weather has been wet and stormy here past few days and how I wish I have encountered this list then ! Thanks for all the recommendation, I’m fond of l.m. Montgomery writing think I’ll give the blue castle a shot , sounds interesting! I have never read Mary Stewart’s book I can’t wait to try it after reading Elsie’s good recommendation and introduction of the author. I didn’t know C’s Lewis has other writing than Narnia. Out of silent place , doesn’t sound close to children read ? Have you read of murakami’s book , full of suspension yet true to real life description of human psychology and inner side , I forgot his first name though!

    1. Hi Sabrina! Well, when you pick up Mary Stewart or The Blue Castle you are in for a treat of a reading time! Enjoy that! You’re right…Lewis’s Space Trilogy is for adults, not kids. There’s some things in there that would be a little disturbing or just hard to understand. Lewis also wrote a standalone adult novel called Til We Have Faces, which is a retelling of the ancient Cupid and Psyche myth. And of course he’s got lots of nonfiction writings as well. Lewis is my husband’s favourite author! Regarding Haruki Murakami, I haven’t read any of his books but he’s been on my radar for awhile. Thank you for bringing him to mind!

    1. Thanks! I love how the Brontes always took note of the weather, and factored that in to the moods of their books. I guess growing up in Yorkshire and all it makes sense!

  4. I am in rather sunny and warm Australia so not in need of a rainy day book, but I was looking for some new recommendations. Mary Stewart I have already been introduced to and I really enjoyed The Stormy Petrel.I am actually reading The Secret Garden right now and it has been my all time favourite since I was a girl. The Blue Castle is a delight, but I am excited to try Agatha Christie and the Daddy Long Legs book too.

  5. Hi Elsie, I was really disappointed with The Woman in Cabin 10. I checked it out of our library, but discarded it after just a few pages because of the foul language. I was rather surprised to find it on your list.

    1. Thank you for mentioning that. When I first talked about Ruth Ware on this site a few years ago, I included a warning that her books have rough language and substance abuse. It didn’t occur to me that I should make that disclaimer in subsequent posts where I mention her books, but I’m going to rectify that now. I’m glad you brought it up!

  6. Thanks, Elsie! Yes, I think it’s important to have a disclaimer on authors/books who/that could be questionable. We want to be able to trust your site.

    1. It’s delightful! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! There is a modern-day retelling called Dear Mr. Knightley you might want to check out.

  7. Villette by Charllote Bronte has that rainy cadence for me.

    The Price of Youth by Margery Williams (author of The Velveteen Rabit) must be started on a stormy day with the windows open or outside just before the storm starts.

    1. Wow, interesting! I have never heard of The Price of Youth! I wonder if I can find a copy. Agree that Villette is perfect for a rainy day, too.

  8. Judging from the taste you display on Tea and Ink, I think you would enjoy The Price of Youth. It is NOT a children’s book! Lol! Margery Williams’s first book, she wrote it when she was like 19 but it has a very mature, experienced feel to it. It takes place in New Jersey at the turn of the century and follows a girl who can’t seperate herself from her father’s bad reputation. At first she seems like a rogue, but more you know her the more you love her – and are deeply frustrated by the unjust path her life follows! A good deal of living description reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery…but I warn you that it won’t end up the way you long for it to and you’ll have to make up your own happy epilogue.

    1. Thank you for the recommendation. I’ve added it to my TBR list, although it might take me awhile to track it down and read it! But I’m interested to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *