Earlier this week, as I watched snow fluttering by my office window, I took a moment to daydream about curling up by a fireplace with some hot cocoa or wine or hot whiskey, reading an appropriately wintery book. Naturally I then had to think about exactly which books might fit the bill, and the first that came to mind was Little Women, with its general vibe of New England Christmas. Though on reflection I don’t think it’s true, in my mind every key scene in the book happens in front of a fireplace (where Amy does burn Jo’s manuscript) or frolicking about in the snow.
On the bleaker side of things, I also thought about the Jack London short story “To Build a Fire,” which is definitely not how I’d like my winter to go.
When I polled the office, Sharon reminded me of how much winter plays in to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books: “I am fully prepared to navigate blizzards with a clothesline or twist hay into braids for the fire among other traumatizing winter survival skills.” Now I know if we ever set up an apocalypse emergency system here at the office, I should pick Sharon as my buddy. And bonus points for the venerable LIW, one of them is even called The Long Winter.
Jane voted for our very own David Morrell’s The Spy Who Came for Christmas. Miriam picked The Cider House Rules and Snow Falling on Cedars, plus Holidays on Ice, while Michael thought of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (which Intern Elie also cited). Jessica came up with The Corrections and James Joyce’s “The Dead.” John’s vote was for Russell Banks’s Affliction. Jim chose The Shipping News, which Stacey seconded, and Frankenstein. And Intern Jordan made a strong case for Rachel Conn & David Levithan’s Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares that made me want to run to the store after work and pick it up.
There were two votes for Snow—but for two different books by that name. Jessica went with Orhan Pamuk, while Jim picked Maxence Fermine. And there were two for Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale, including Sharon and Intern Francis, who is reading it right now. Plus three for the Harry Potter books, from Interns Tatiana, Amy, and Elie.
A few people came up with books that might not be quite winter books, but have a winter feel to them nonetheless, including Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (Miriam), Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Mike), The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Into Thin Air by Jon Kraukauer (both Stacey). On a similar note, Intern May Zhee reads a lot of Russian novels that feel wintery even if they’re not, like Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago.
So now that I have such a long list of wintery reading options, all I need is some snow days to curl up and give them a go. What are your favorite winter reads?