With the cold winter nights drawing in and the indulgences of the festive season behind us, we’ll all be on the look out for something to keep us going and ward off the gloom throughout January and February. But while it’s tempting to cheer ourselves up by eating fatty foods and drinking too much alcohol, there is a solution that’s easier on both the waistline and the wallet. By getting really hung up on a good book, you can fill those long nights with magic and adventure – escaping to worlds where summer is endless and you never feel the cold.

 Try some chick-lit

Ideal for those who aren’t entirely convinced that a book can take the place of their favourite TV show, ‘chick-lit’ is light-hearted literature generally aimed at the young female demographic. But light-hearted doesn’t have to mean bad – there are several fantastic titles out there that have sold millions of copies around the world. Some of the best known are the Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding – a humorous series of books chronicling the life and loves of a thirty-something singleton in London. However, fans of the genre know that chick-lit is about much more than Bridget: literature aimed at addressing the issues of modern womanhood accounts for a large proportion of national book sales, with many popular titles remaining at the top of bestseller lists for weeks on end.

Explore stories from days gone by

historical booksA genre that has become increasingly popular in recent years is that of historical fiction. Typically fictional novels inspired by real people or events from the past, historical fiction weaves an educational narrative with an exciting story that’s sure to keep the reader gripped from start to finish. Famous examples of the genre include the series of books by Philippa Gregory that tell the stories of famous women throughout the history of the British court, and Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and The Girl at The Lion d’Or, both of which take a fictional take on the consequences of real wars. Historical fiction can help you learn about the past as well as enjoy a gripping read – just be sure to do your research well to establish what is fact from fiction in your chosen story.

Get stuck in to non-fiction

A great way to fill those long winter nights is to spend them learning more about the world. While it’s easy to get sucked into the elaborate, fantasy world of fictional books, you can often find wonders and marvels just as great reading non-fiction works about real people and events. Perhaps there’s an event in history that you’ve always wanted to learn more about, say the sinking of the Titanic or the advent of the Second World War? Sites like Amazon can help you track down the most popular titles on just about any subject, and you can use the reviewing system to work out which ones might be best for you. Like to follow the world of your favourite celebrity? Whether they’re a modern icon or a star of days gone by, you’re sure to find countless biographies and autobiographies chronicling the details of their life. Pick one of these up – again it’s a good idea to check online to find which has the best reviews – and find yourself transported into the lives and loves of some of the most influential people in history.

Discover a whole new world

epicGone are the days of epic fantasy novels being solely the preserve of self-professed geeks. While many of us will have dabbled with the likes of The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia in their youth, now its perfectly acceptable to admit enjoying fantasy novels as an adult too. Popular adaptations of books like the Game of Thrones series have kick-started a new trend for adult fantasy, with the books by George RR Martin delighting (and disturbing) new readers every day. Other popular choices are books by classic fantasy and and science fiction authors such as Douglas Adams and Philip K Dick, along with more modern authors aimed at a younger audience like J K Rowling and Suzanne Collins. Don’t feel like spending your evenings reading? Websites like Audible will let you browse and download audio books of all your favourite titles, which you can then listen to from your computer or mobile device.