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  • Wintering

  • The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
  • Written by: Katherine May
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lee
  • Length: 6 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

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Wintering cover art

Wintering

Written by: Katherine May
Narrated by: Rebecca Lee
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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Best Seller!

As heard on NPR Morning Edition and On Being with Krista Tippett

“Katherine May opens up exactly what I and so many need to hear but haven't known how to name.” (Krista Tippett, On Being)

“Every bit as beautiful and healing as the season itself.... This is truly a beautiful book.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

"Proves that there is grace in letting go, stepping back and giving yourself time to repair in the dark.... May is a clear-eyed observer and her language is steady, honest and accurate - capturing the sense, the beauty and the latent power of our resting landscapes." (Wall Street Journal)

"May writes beautifully.... A contemplative, hopeful, consoling book.” (NPR)

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 breakup, 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.

©2020 Katherine May (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“There is power and clarity and wisdom to be gained from accepting these difficult times. Wintering offered me empathy, acceptance and perspective that will stay with me long after the pandemic.” (New York Times)

“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.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Beautiful...She is a poetic observer of the natural world, and quotable lines abound...I want to share Wintering with all my friends who experience winter blues, and keep a copy close at hand for the inevitable winterings of my own life.” (BookPage)

What listeners say about Wintering

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

So very good!

Such a magically written remedy for the winter season and mental health. Savor the stories.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply beautiful.

I loved this book so much. Katherine’s writing is soothing and poetic. Living in a place where winter is long, very cold and often hard, this book was a perfect listen during February/March. Highly recommended.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • TC
  • 2021-02-13

I was hoping for something more

I loved the flow and lilt of the words and the narrator’s treatment of them, but I think I was expecting something more...clear in its guidance. There were interesting pieces all the way through and I really loved learning about different cultures’ approaches to literal winter as well as May’s approaches to winters of the soul. But it didn’t always hang together or build on itself, at least until the epilogue. I’d read it again and may buy it in paper to be able to refer back to bits, but I had hoped it would be more somehow.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful ode

For those who struggle with the season, either internally or outwardly, to those who rejoice in the snow and have experienced a few winter times of their own- this book is for you. I just completed my first listen, definitely not my last!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Real and beautiful

A beautiful acknowledgment that living calls us to wintering also. Not to be ignored and pushed away. Wintering is a place of healing. Grateful for this book.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A refreshing perspective

I have recommended this book to 3 friends already but feel that anyone would benefit from reading/listening to it. It describes how our society encourages burn out and how we guilt ourselves and each other into a state of being constantly productive- and then feeling like a failure when we crash. But also how to combat this with different perspectives, practices and personal stories/knowledge. I learned a lot and felt validated in my own experiences, which was a nice feeling! Loved the book and the narrator :)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • A
  • 2023-01-28

A Book We All Need

This book is a beautiful meandering meditation that reminds the reader that you are a human being...not a human doing. Real, raw, beautiful, and greatly appreciated.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story

Enjoyed that it is a nice story with a bit of a fable. Wish it had a bit more of a punch line at the end but overall an enjoyable listen

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Validating, thoughtful, comforting

It’s what I needed, when I needed it. Beautifully written / magnificently read. It’s wise and nurturing.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Winter Solstice

This book covers the writer’s experiences from fall to first robin.
Writing is interesting, narrator has very pleasant voice.
I enjoyed the whole book.

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