Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter Reading Series, Part 1- ADULTS

If you live anywhere remotely close to where I do (well, except for maybe Florida), it is likely that winter has set in by now, and how. It is cold, sometimes too cold to even snow, and, if you again, like me, live in a city, space is cramped. What is one to do? Read, of course!

I have found that a good book on a cold winter's night can be just what my mood ordered (plus, Glee is on hiatus) and since I do feel the winter has a tendency to get adults down more than children (those of us who are past our snow-angel prime...I know, I know, never too old!) I have decided to, just this once, make this blog about grown-ups. In my mind the winter is the time for meat, for length, for a novel that will work it's way into your heart and spend some time with you. Below are my top five book choices for winter reading. Enjoy! And stay warm.

1) The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.

This novel is one of the most fascinating character studies I have read in awhile. Set in New York directly before the fall of the twin towers and with a cast of characters, the book asks that age-old question that has been the underbelly of human existence since the beginning: what is truth, and what does it mean to be an authentic human being? I loved it.

2) The Last of Her Kind by Jenna Blum.

Ms. Blum is not only a sensational writer but a remarkable researcher. The book, chronicling the lives of two German women during the Nazi occupation, is a heartbreakingly accurate account of war and the things we do to survive. I especially liked the emphasis on the idea of "remembrance" and how we all bear the burden of our past in different ways. A truly fantastic novel.

3) Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.

This memoir holds a special place in my heart and I revisited it this winter when I gave it to my father for Christmas. Gopnik, as some of you may know, is a beloved New Yorker writer who moved his young family to Paris in the 90's. Through his expat eyes, one encounters the very real diversion (and subsequent marriage) of the odd, unpredictable nature of the French Life and the timeless romanticism of this beloved city. It is funny, quirky and incredibly lovely. *Read with a glass of red wine and a warm blanket.

4) Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins.

This is another classic favorite of mine and a book I recommend again and again. It is a tale about science, love, and the questions that lead man beyond the realms of human control. It takes place mostly at a research facility in the states during WWII where radioactivity was being explored and tested.

5) My French Life by Vicki Archer.

I was gifted this book last week for my birthday and tore through it. The gift-giver knows I am painfully in love with all things French and came across My French Life thinking it would make a nice coffee-table adornment for my apartment. It does, indeed, but it's also a delicious written window into French life. Meaty perhaps it isn't but divine it definitely is. With rich, edible descriptions of French food, poignant anecdotes about French lifestyle and sensibility and enviable examples of French fashion it is a book to read and re-read. Paired with the delectable text are wonderful photographs by Archer's longtime friend and colleague, Carla Coulson. Enjoy with a cocktail and drift away along the Seine.

How about you all? Any favorite winter reads?


  1. Ooh...I will definitely be checking out your first to recommendations. They sound excellent.

    A good winter read, eh?

    "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Hugo.
    "The Brothers Karamozov" by Dostoevsky.
    "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay.
    "Great Expectations" by Dickens.
    "Walden" by Thoreau.
    "The Once and Future King" by TH White.
    "My Antonia" by Cather.

    And of course, who can say no to rereading the Harry Potter books?

  2. The HP's most definitely belong in the cozy winter months, excellent point!

  3. I love winter! It's a time for writing, for reading, for Rufus, for not feeling guilty for staying inside and writing and reading! I love how clean the world looks, how white and pristine, like a blank sheet of paper! So, naturally, I'm of the mind set that one can literally conquer any text, but, if we're going to be traditionalist, I would recommend something that came from the mighty Russian winter, something like, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov". But, there's also something about David Markson for me that's so very snuggly with a blanket. Maybe it's because "Wittgenstein's Mistress" takes place on a beach and I want to think warm thoughts, maybe it's because "Reader's Block" asks the reader to chose where the protagonist lives: on a beach or in a cemetery in the winter, and my mind just lurves going back and forth between the beauty of those two options. Maybe it's because both of the books mainly deal with reading itself.

    But really, winter is a time to pick a book, probably a long, hard one, and hunker down and finish it before that summer sun rises. This winter, I chose "The Iliad" and I couldn't be happier!

  4. Thank you for these book recommendations! I loved "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnik (especially the Barney essay). My other favorite essay of his is "Bumping into Mr. Ravioli" from The Children's Gate. I will add some of the others to my reading list.

    My parents were in Paris and Nice over the holidays and are planning to retire in the south of France. I will have to give my Dad the Gopnick and my Mom the Archer - such good recommendations!

  5. Teresa...PLEASE pick up the Archer for your mother! It is about the restoration of a country home in Provence and it's just breathtaking. Happy trails to your rents!