Reading in Winter

Can there be a better season to read than in winter? There isn’t anything cosier or more heartwarming than curling up in the warmth with a good book whilst the bitter cold freezes your car windscreen outside.

But it’s not as simple as grabbing the nearest book from your TBR pile and settling down on the sofa, there are a few things you need to do first.

Gather your candles, your warmest, softest blankets and make a large cup of steaming coffee. And it’s no good trying to get warm and cosy with a book set in high summer, you need to read a book that exaggerates your feelings of warmth and protection in your own home.

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A few of the best books I have read that help create that ‘positively Arctic outside’ feeling are:

December by Elizabeth H Winthrop

December in New England, the season of snow, log fires and happy families, Except not for the Carters. Their 11 year old daughter hasn’t spoken for months. Given up on by experts and misunderstood by her parents, Elizabeth’s future looks far from promising. But perhaps there’s a reason for her silence? Perhaps it’s the fault of her parents? Will their marriage crack under the pressure?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I was so late to this particular party that all the lights had been switched off and the doors locked before I even arrived. However, am I glad that I got to it eventually! There cannot be a more winter-y feeling book than one where every other chapter is entitled ‘SNOW’. I hardly dare write a synopsis as you have all without doubt read it, but just in case:

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third? What if there were an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

I suppose it would be remiss of me not to include a detective novel, seeing as winter is usually associated with that particular genre. I have read a lot of crime fiction and, with the exception of a few, find them to be little ‘throwaway’. Exciting to read but disappointing at the end. And often pretty forget-able. An author I discovered recently is Sarah Ward, whose book reads like a compelling Scandi-noir, she pays particular attention to setting and the starkness of the winter landscape.

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

And a couple more:

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Eckback and To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (who also wrote The Snow Child) are recent books I have reviewed which fit into this category too.

Happy reading!

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