Five Cosy Winter Reads

Emma Castle
6th Jul 2016

Only a crazy person would go outside in this weather. If you, like us, have given up on non-essential trips outdoors for the next month or so, here’s a reading list that will keep your body and your mind warm enough to survive until Spring.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Believe the hype, people. Yes, every bestseller list has been carrying this title for what seems like forever but the reason it’s trumping all the self-help and diet books is that it’s a work of actual genius. Set simultaneously in WWII Germany and France, the story follows the lives of two children on opposite sides of the war. Adding to the tension is the fact that the French protagonist, Marie-Laure, is blind, and Werner, her German counterpart is hand-picked to join Hitler Youth and you have a heart wrenching tale of geography dictating your fate. The pair wind up on a collision course that reveals the true tragedy of war in the microcosm of two people’s lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow

Another immensely popular title, and for good reason. Set in the Channel Islands off the coast of England during the German occupation of WWII, this is a curious tale that is part historical fiction and part love story. Under the watchful eye of the Germans, the locals are terrorised and suffer from extreme shortages of food but, in a small act of disobedience, they form a book club which over the course of the war becomes much more than just a chance to share their love of literature. The book is structured as a series of letters between an author based in London and a Guernsey native and culminates in an act of bravery that has disastrous consequences.

The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt

Set around the time of the World Trade Centre bombings in New York, a young boy’s life is ripped apart when he loses his mother in an attack on an art gallery. In the chaos that follows, the boy comes into possession of a small painting by a Dutch master that is both valuable and rare. The story follows the boy’s journey from New York to Nevada where he winds up living with his gambling addicted father and having to make a life for himself in the suburban desert wasteland. Unlikely friendships are formed, criminal activity ensues and fate leads him back to New York and onto Europe to the original homeland of the stolen painting.

A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani

Want to go somewhere warm and exotic but don’t have the budget? Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani will take you on a rip-roaring voyage around Asia that is entirely over land and sea. You see, the Terzani was told by one of the many fortune tellers featured in this book that he should avoid air travel for a year because flying would result in his untimely death. Rather than take that chance, Terzani commits to a year of slower forms of travel, seeking out soothsayers along the way, and the resulting yarns provide genuine insight into the Asian mentality and the region’s superstitions, religion and politics.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

If laughing your way through the ice and snow is your survival style, you cannot go past Jenny Lawson’s semi-autobiographic first novel. Lawson recounts her childhood in the wild southern states of America. Her father was a taxidermist and the family were dirt poor which means they had to make a lot of their own fun, which is hilarious in the redneck-mocking retelling. Lawson rose to fame because of her blog, The Bloggess, and the book is an extension of her off-beat tales of drinking wine slushies, shooing vultures away from the corpse of her pug and buying giant metal chickens to the amusing dismay of her long-suffering husband Victor.