Winter Reads

There’s something about cold weather and dark nights that make me want to find a book full of snow and curl up on the couch. If you feel the same, check out one of these recent titles.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – In early 1900s Russia, young Vasya roams her father’s rural estate on the edge of the forest, communing with the spirits of her house and woods. When her father remarries, her devout stepmother Anna prohibits the family from practicing the rites that honor the household spirits. As the town priest supports Anna and the townfolk follow their lead, the helpful spirits weaken and the frost-king returns, with only Vasya capable of helping.

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice – As winter arrives, power and cell service go out on a small Anishinaabe reservation in northern Canada. In a bid to survive, Evan Whitesky attempts to fortify the town by drawing upon traditional methods of survival. When a stranger arrives from the south, he throws the equilibrium out of balance and internal struggles in the community are magnified into life-and-death issues.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield – On the dark and stormy winter solstice of 1870, a man barges into the local inn with a drowned four-year-old girl in his arms. When she suddenly comes back to life hours later, many in the village want to claim her as their own, and in so doing reveal tales of family and secrets.

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson – The idyllic Northern Iceland fishing village Siglufjörður becomes isolated each winter, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. New to town, rookie policeman Ari Thór Arason is missing big city life and feeling claustrophobic. When a snowstorm blocks the tunnel and Arason finds a local author dead and another woman stabbed, he realizes he and the town are trapped with a killer.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – In this lush reinvention of Rumpelstiltskin by way of Eastern European folklore, three women in Old Lithuania attempt to make decisions that will regain them control of their lives. Can Miryem, daughter of indebted moneylenders, turn enough silver into gold to gain her freedom? Can eternal winter be forestalled? What deals will she and others be willing to make to save themselves and others?

Winter by Ali Smith – In this second book in her Seasonal Quartet (after Autumn), Art Cleves is on his way to his mother’s house in Cornwall for Christmas, along with a woman he met at a bus stop and hired to impersonate the partner he’s recently broken up with. They arrive to find his mother and her house in disrepair, and call her sister in to help set things in order. Family secrets, family dynamics, and contemporary issues come to bear.

If you have a little one you’d like to snuggle up and read with, try Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell. In this largely wordless picture book, a little girl and a wolf pup both get lost in a snow storm. How will they both make it home? Both the story and the ink-and-watercolor illustrations are a joy to share.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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