The Top 10 (or so) Books to Read in Winter

As I write this, it’s about 30 degrees outside my window. I know, I know. Not exactly the frozen tundra, but it’s still cold. The fireplace is kicking out heat and pretty soon I’ll bundle up to take my dog for a walk. She loves the cold–in fact, she’ll lie down on the chilly ground outback and just survey her kingdom for hours.

Today’s weather has me thinking about books set in the wintertime. This weather is perfect for curling up on the sofa and reading. My list isn’t limited to novels; there are books for grown-ups, books for children, and books that combine the best of both worlds.

So without further ado, I present you (in no particular order) with my list for the top 10 books to read during the winter:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I read this book last year. It was haunting. In the several months that have passed since I finished the novel, I’ve come to regard it even more highly. It’s the story of a couple who are blessed with a magical child in early twentieth-century Alaska. You can read my review here.

 

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

I read this quite some time ago, but it has stayed with me. It’s a beautiful story told, in part, almost like a fairy tale (albeit a very dark fairy tale). It spans decades and has its roots in the starvation of Leningrad. It’s fascinating and spellbinding, and you’ll remember it long after you read it.

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

There’s a reason this book has been read by millions, made into a movie, and spawned countless imitations: it’s really that good. Set in a magical kingdom of eternal winter, it’s the ultimate tale of good versus evil. Younger readers appreciate the action and the family drama that unfolds; adults can appreciate the more subtle messages and dark humor in the story.

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

You know the story: the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on the night before Christmas, prompting Mr. Scrooge to learn a valuable lesson about kindness and generosity. If you’ve never read the original by Dickens himself, do yourself a favor and read it. The language is flowery, much more so than modern novels, but there’s something about reading the words Dickens wrote that makes the story even better.

 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Set in Russia, the coldest of cold places, this book examines the life of Anna, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who refuses to let that be her destiny. As she attempts to build a life with her lover, she faces scorn, ridicule, and social norms that force her to make a devastating choice. Spoiler alert: as with much of Russian literature, this book does not have a happy ending.

 

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Full disclosure: The Long Winter and the rest of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been among my favorites since I was old enough to read them. This one is especially exciting because it tells the story of one particularly bad winter in the Dakota Territory, when one blizzard after another culminates in a shortage of food, fodder for the animals, and even firewood. It’s thrilling to read about how the people of the territory managed to survive.

 

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

This was one of my favorite books to read to my kids when they were little, but you don’t have to be little to enjoy it. A young girl and her father go owling, hoping to see one of the magnificent creatures swoop by in the moonlit darkness. The illustrations are exquisite and the story is timeless.

 

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick

This book, comprised of gorgeous photographs and simple words, is a love story to nature. There’s a stranger in the woods and the animals need to determine whether the stranger means them harm. Spoiler alert: the stranger brings only good.

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

David Sedaris has been called “one of the funniest writers alive” by Economist (because who knows humor better than economists??) and this collection of essays/short stories is an entertaining introduction to Sedaris if you’re not already familiar with his writing. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a Macy’s elf? Check it out.

 

And last, but not least, there is a tie between

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

 

 

and Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M. C. Beaton

 

You knew there was going to be an Agatha on this list, didn’t you? It was a toss-up between Dame Agatha Christie and another Agatha (Agatha Raisin, nosy and forthright brainchild of M. C. Beaton), so I chose to include both.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is classic Hercule Poirot, with the great detective trying to figure out whodunit in the murder of a millionaire businessman. The murdered man is surrounded by enemies on the Orient Express, a luxurious sleeper train that has become stuck in a huge snowdrift, so Poirot has his work cut out for him.

Kissing Christmas Goodbye follows the antics of fireball Agatha Raisin, Cotswolds detective and middle-aged divorcee, as she attempts to curate the perfect Christmas while trying to find the murderer of an elderly widow. M. C. Beaton, who passed away only three weeks ago, is a master at writing cozy mysteries.

What wintertime books do you recommend?

Until next time,

Amy

 

Last Tuesday Book Round-Up

I haven’t posted a Last Tuesday Book Round-Up for a few months, but it’s time I got back on track with it. February was a great month for my reading list, and I’ve been really good about leaving reviews for all the books I’ve read. Remember, reviews are huge for authors, so don’t forget to leave reviews of the books you read!

Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

Set in Louisiana in the summertime, you can feel the muggy heat that seems to make problems worse in this fabulous mystery. Following the deaths of two guests at the Crozat B&B, the Crozat family has to find out the identity of the killer, or killers, before the negative publicity can put them out of business. The main character, Maggie Crozat, has to deal with red herrings galore, a police chief with a grudge against the family, and a big mouth she can’t seem to keep shut.

 

The White Russian Caper by Phyllis Entis

I really enjoyed this book, the second in the Damien Dickens Mystery Series. Set in both Atlantic City, NJ, and Hollywood, FL, it follows Dick and Millie’s investigations into the murder of Miss America. Much of the investigation is shouldered by Millie, but I don’t want to give away more than that. This book was exciting, intriguing, and kept me interested from the first page to the last.

 

One Night in Tehran by Luana Ehrlich

I have to confess that, for all the time I spend on Twitter, this is the only book I’ve bought based on a Twitter post. And it didn’t disappoint. This was a thrilling story about domestic and international terrorism and the efforts of a CIA agent (on forced medical leave) to figure out the identity of an assassin on US soil and to attempt to stop that person from committing any more murders.

 

The Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

This book, based on a true story you might remember hearing about in news reports not too many years ago, follows an American woman on her quest to figure out why the apartment she has inherited in Paris has lain untouched for so many decades. Filled with antiques, artwork, and any number of stories, the apartment takes hold of the main character’s imagination not only because she never knew it existed, but because no one knows why its owner didn’t bequeath it to her own daughter.

 

Tales of Edgar Allan Poe by…Edgar Allan Poe

I picked up this book from the library not only because I wanted to reread some of the stories I hadn’t read since high school, but also because there were stories in it that I had never read. As expected, they were pretty gruesome. If you like horror or the more paranormal-type Gothic stories, this book is for you.

 

Dottie Sprinkles: Fairy Special Winter Wonderland by Pamela Burba

In a departure from my usual type of reading, I sat down one night and read through this delightful children’s book by a woman I became acquainted with in a few of my Facebook groups. The illustrations are enchanting and the lessons in the book are great for kids of all ages.

That’s it for February! Keep an eye out for next Monday’s recipe post!

Until next time,

Amy