Another Winter Reading List
With January coming to an end, winter is almost halfway through. Snow looms on the forecast, and the mountains I see from my window are dusted in white. I’m lighting candles earlier and earlier in the day (even as the light begins to pick up), and I find myself craving the cozy comfort of books rather than the lure of the television (computer) screen that drew me in all through the autumn. It’s an odd year where January feels welcome after the holiday spirit felt almost inappropriate, and all I want is the quiet comfort of winter after the aggressive cheerfulness of the holiday.
I rounded up all time favorite winter reads for fighting the January Blues last year, but I’m sharing a different list this year, composed of what I’ve actually read this winter, along with a non-detailed list of my next reads.
Books for this Winter:
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion – I somehow made it through all these years without reading any Joan Didion, and I honestly don’t know how or why. Her writing, or at least all the non-fiction I’ve read so far, is refreshing and fantastic, and I just want to keep on reading her work. One of my friends just started a PhD on Didion, which inspired me to pick up some of her books, and I’m so thankful for it. I read The Year of Magical Thinking this past week, and while it’s a tragic and raw account of the year the author lost her husband, very suddenly, a couple of days after Christmas, it is one of the most striking pieces of writing I have ever read. Despite its focus on death, I think it’s a highly appropriate book to read at this time of year. It’s gut-wrenching and terrifying, but somehow, it doesn’t leave you feeling depressed. Instead, it makes you think about the nature of memory and the human capacity for feeling, and it leaves you mentally invigorated.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë – I read Jane Eyre when I was twelve years old, in the middle of summer, and, though I’ve watched the various films many times at different times of year, I never really associated Jane Eyre with winter. Yet, it opens in winter and is an extremely wintery book. I am rereading it now (for the first time ever!!) and am so happy to rediscover it as an adult.
Social Creature, Tara Isabella Burton – We’ve talked about Social Creature on the Attic before, and when better to enter into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite (sorry) than now? Party dresses and ice abound through the novel, and it’s perfect for winter, especially if you love reading about the wealthy and ridiculous as much as I do at this time of year.
Old New York, Edith Wharton – You didn’t think I was going to produce a reading list without including some Wharton, did you? Old New York is a collection of four novellas, each representing the spirit of a decade between the 1840s and the 1870s in New York. I reread “New Year’s Day” at the very beginning of the year, the last novella in the collection, and it’s a chilling, poignant story about the different cycles of life.
The Wings of the Dove, Henry James – When better to get sucked into the long, complex world of Henry James than in the wintertime? We often think long reads are best on long summer days, but my favorite time to read and get sucked in to massive nineteenth century novels is when I can curl up with a blanket and endless cups of tea. This late Henry James novel is one far darker than The Portrait of a Lady and has kept me occupied for many days.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh – If you can’t actually sleep all day, why not read about sleeping all year? A favorite novel of 2018 for many of us here at the Attic, we have more about this novel coming to you very soon!
Swing Time, Zadie Smith – I read Swing Time on a snowy train ride to Paris and then through many snowy train rides through Switzerland, so the novel remains a January read in my mind. The story of two girls who grow up on a council estate in London, dreaming of dancing, and go on to lead two very different lives, Swing Time takes you from London to New York to West Africa and is a fantastic exploration of friendship and personal relationships to culture.
The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro – Not a winter narrative by any means, but this modern re-exploration of Arthuriana (or post-Arthuriana) evokes hibernation and is a beautiful consideration of collective memory.
Strapless, Deborah Davis – A dual biography on Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau (better known as Madame X) and on John Singer Sargent, Madame X is an enthralling read and a perfect gateway book for getting into more non-fiction.
My Winter Reading List:
With my thesis finally behind me, my TBR pile is climbing high with books I’ve been excited to read but couldn’t quite justify before. Here is what I’m planning to read over the next couple of winter weeks:
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