Books to Keep Away the Cold

Ava Soleibe & Jane Harig, Staff Writer

The season of winter not only brings the holiday spirit, but a sense of coziness, whether that be wearing sweaters, drinking hot chocolate, or getting into a good book. Reading during time off school, say Thanksgiving or winter break, can give people time to really dive in and enjoy a book.

Books give readers a sense of escape and comfort. There are all kinds of books to read, but when the weather gets colder, sometimes it is more comfortable to stay inside, and getting into a good winter read can be immensely good for the mind and soul.

Within the winter book collection there are many different genres to read. Whether it be fantasy, realistic fiction, classics, short stories, or memoirs, there is something for everyone.

Fantasy, being the most published amongst those genres, proves popular with books like the Harry Potter series. Some other titles you may not know include “Winterhouse” by Ben Guterson, “The Doldrums,” “Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse” by Nicholas Gannon, “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend, and “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore.

“Winterhouse,” a modern fantasy that gives off classic fantasy vibes, follows the story of young Elizabeth Somers. When sent to Winterhouse for winter break, Elizabeth has no idea how her aunt and uncle could afford to send her to such an extravagant hotel. Swimming in the indoor pool, cross-country skiing, music performances at night, or a seemingly impossible puzzle in the entrance hall, Winterhouse is a place Elizabeth can enjoy every second of her time off school over the holidays. But when she is swept up in a confusing mystery, along with her new friend Freddy, Elizabeth begins to question the creepy guests, an interesting hotel owner, and strange happenings in the library. Together, Freddy and Elizabeth unwrap puzzles, debunk clues, and solve the mystery happening at Winterhouse. The book is an easy and quick read, but never not exciting. The cozy Christmas spirit is strong in this novel, whether it is the setting that seems to come alive, the lovable characters, or just the overall feeling and writing style. This is the Seattle based author’s first book, though he has written more since. Winterhouse has two sequels, “The Secrets of Winterhouse” and “Winterhouse Mysteries.”

Morrigan Crow is unlucky. She was born on Eventide, and now, a young girl of only 10 years old, is destined to die on her 11th birthday. Interrupting any treacherous acts, a strange orange-haired man with the name Jupiter North appears in a flurry, sweeping her away from her dreadful fate to a mysterious place called Nevermoor. In Nevermoor Morrigan must complete four dangerous trials against hundreds of other kids to get into the Wundrous Society. The only problem is-if she doesn’t get in, it will mean facing her horrible fate. The book provides a new, fresh look on fantasy, and its mystery and exhilarating plot will enchant you into never putting the book down. Characters like ones you have never met, and a world in which you have never visited. Dive into “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan” Crow by Jessica Townsend during your time off school.

More than anything, Archer Helmsley wants adventure. His grandparents sure found it – getting themselves stuck on an iceberg and all. His grandparents are world famous explorers, but his mother will not let him leave the house. Luckily, Archer’s home is far from uninteresting. Living in his grandparents’ house, which resembles more of a museum, the home is brimming with artifacts from their travels. Another bit of luck is Oliver Glub, his neighbor, and Adelaide Belmont, who moved from Paris after a crocodile bit her leg. (She is now sporting a rather fine wooden leg.) Though once Archer starts collecting mysterious clues of his grandparents’ disappearance, he knows it is his time for action. Together Archer, Oliver, and Adelaide find themselves on, quite frankly, the adventure of a lifetime. Make sure to check out “The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse” for a real winter treat! For fans of Lemony Snicket and other whimsical novels. “The Doldrums” is a well spun clever tale for all generations.

Climb mountains, dive in alpine lakes, and let winter envelop you with “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore. A rare few are “graced” with a specific talent in one area (this talent could be anything from strength or speed to being incredible at karaoke), marked by the distinct trait of dual-colored eyes. Typically, gracelings are revered for their natural ability, but Katsa’s grace has made her King Ror’s favorite weapon, and she carries out his dirty work effortlessly. When Katsa meets Po from a kingdom unlike hers, she finds solace in the fact that Po too has been defined by his grace throughout his life. Their matched determination and instincts make them a perfect team for an expedition that could either save the world or send it up in flames. Particular passages that detail Katsa venturing across a formidable mountain pass in the snow send cold deep into the soul. To balance the chilly backdrop of this novel, warm themes of identity, chosen family, and perseverance are present throughout the read.

Classics such as “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis, and “The Blue Castle” by L. M. Montgomery have lasted generations with timeless writing and the enchanting wonder of coming-of-age plots.

“The Blue Castle” by L.M Montgomery, the beloved author of Anne of Green Gables, is a 1920’s spin on adolescent rebellion, but the era is insignificant, because once you get swept into the story, you will lose all sense of time. Wistful Valancy Stirling has an undeniably miserable life, shackled by her judgmental family and the impending threat of becoming an “old maid.” The only place she finds solace is her blue castle, a figment of her dreams. Everything changes when Valancy receives a letter with news that makes her feel an absolute need to break her mundane daily routine and live her life with no regret.  She begins by moving out of the cold (metaphorically and literally, as Mrs. Stirling is opposed to fireplaces) Stirling household, and starts working to support herself. Soon, the mysterious and clever Barney Snaith enters her life, only the first of many surprises Valancy never saw coming. Through Valancy’s adventures, readers learn the joy that comes from living life to the fullest and finding one’s own definition of freedom. The picturesque descriptions of the Canadian wilds that Valancy becomes acquainted with make this book a perfect winter read, “Winter was almost intolerably beautiful. Days of clear brilliance. Evenings that were like cups of glamour-the purest vintage of winter’s wine. Moonlight on birches in a silver thaw.”

“Little Women” speaks for itself as one of the most beloved reads in literary history. Readers will often identify with one or more of the four March sisters: Jo, the spirited writer, Meg, who has an infatuation with the finer things, Beth, pensive always, and Amy, whose greatest asset is her ambition. Semi-autobiographical, Louisa May Alcott retells life with her three sisters in the late 1800s, herself in Jo’s role. The March sisters grow up in a home where all are welcome to come in from the cold and have a cup of tea. This book feels like seeing the first snowfall of winter, living room dancing, inhaling the scent of baked goods, and spending time with people you love. It is a quintessential coming-of-age story that has spanned lifetimes. Each sister undergoes hardships and growth, writing their own stories of woe and wonder, staying together through the trials of first love, purpose, friendship, and loss. An honorary member of the March family is Theodore Laurence, affectionately called “Laurie” by all and “Teddy” by Jo. One of the utmost debates held in literature is whether Jo should have married Laurie, so read “Little Women,” and take a side. As one of the first renowned novels about women, written by a woman, this book’s revolutionary commentary and focus on gender stays relevant today, and its feminist messages are compelling. The homely, atmospheric feel of this book, along with its lengthy two parts make it an ideal winter break read, after all, the first line is “’Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” invites one and all to delve into the mystifying world of Narnia. When Lucy Pevensie stumbles upon a forest of glittering white through the back of a fateful wardrobe, she instantaneously ropes in her three siblings: Peter, Susan, and Edmund. Narnia is something of a daydream, but its allure is poisoned by the tyrannous White Witch, who has placed Narnia under a curse that brings everlasting winter. For the first time in a long time, there is hope when the Pevensie siblings join Aslan, Narnia’s favorite hero, in a power struggle against the White Witch. Trees will tell, courage will rise, and tea parties will occur in this feat of imagination by C.S Lewis.

Lastly, for fans of nonfiction and stories from real life, “Christmas on Jane Street” by Billy Romp and Wanda Urbanska is a memoir.

White Pine, Fraser, Douglas Fir-whatever the Christmas tree, Billy Romp knows everything there is to know about it. The Romp family has had a tradition since 1988. Together they pack up their camper van from snowy Vermont and head to the corner of Jane Street and Eighth Avenue in New York City, to sell Christmas trees. The ongoing generosity of the neighbors, shopkeepers, and workers of Jane Street truly drive the Christmas spirit, making every Romp family stay an exciting one. One year was especially memorable for Billy Romp. The year he saw his daughter grow up before his eyes, and when he saw the Christmas spirit shine right in front of him (to put it lightly). Enjoy the story of a family spending their season spreading good cheer together. Yes, yes, it is sappy, but it is a solid read with good insight and it is a true story.

Hopefully, one of these eight captivating reads piques your interest as we enter the winter season. Go on escapades with the March sisters and Laurie, be daring with Morrigan Crow, explore the luminous Winterhouse, or banish winter with the Pevensie siblings. The adventure is yours for the taking.