Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Report Inspiration: Winter Reading List

Well, it's officially December, and even though I haven't finished off my fall reading list, it's time to assemble a stack of books to get me through the long winter months. This winter I'm going to tackle a few classics, revisit one or two favorites, and try--really, really try--to get caught up on one particularly lengthy series...

Now, I can understand the logic behind reading summery books in the winter, but when it's cold and dreary, I'm all about digging deeper into all things wintery. What can I say? I have a tendency to wallow. Anyway, I've put together a group of books to take me from December to February. Hopefully, by the time March rolls around, things will start seeming springy.

My winter reads:

1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've never read anything by Dickens. It seems on par with admitting that I've never read anything by Shakespeare. (Just for the record, I've read plenty by Shakespeare.) But even without reading A Christmas Carol, we all know the story, right? I mean, after the Muppets honor something with a movie, it's basically cannon. Still, it's high time I make things official.
2. Little Women, Louise May Alcott
Another classic I haven't read. The shame. This oversight is made even worse by the fact that Catherine has compared us to the March sisters countless times. Oddly enough, I don't think she's actually read Little Women either; I believe all her information is coming from the movie. So maybe both of us will finish LW this winter, and then we'll know how to better honor the spirit of the March sisters. Except not really. Because the character Catherine identifies with dies from TB or something. Whoops. I guess I can't be more specific until after I've read the book.
3. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
Again, I don't know how I missed this. Don't most people read The Call of the Wild in middle school or something? Anyway, my Jack London knowledge begins with the short story "To Build a Fire" and ends with the Disney movie White Fang.  There's a whole lot of nothing in between. So obviously, I have some catching up to do.
4. Never Cry Wolf, Farley Mowat
Now for something I did read in middle school; Never Cry Wolf was my introduction to the concept of nature conservancy as well as how to make a meal of mice. (Don't worry, Mowat includes the recipe in his book. Thanks, bro.) Mowat, a young naturalist sent to the Arctic, discovers and chronicles the secret lives of wolves on the tundra. I haven't revisited this book since 6th grade, but I loved it then...and not just because he used the word sonofabitch. It was pretty major for our class. Oh, how the times have changed.
5. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
Sometimes I look longingly at The Shipping News on my bookshelf and think about picking it up, but after looking at all the books waiting to be opened for the first time, I talk myself out of grabbing TSN again. It's been years since I read it, but I remembered being completely in love with the story of a man returning to his ancestral home on the stark Newfoundland coast. I'm fairly confident TSN will stand the test of time. 
6. If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
Since I'm admitting things left and right here, I'll just say up front that I'm not sure I understand Calvino, but I'm definitely intrigued by him. If On a Winter's Night a Traveler was assigned in one of my classes in grad school, and now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if I might not have read it all. This might help explain why I can't remember exactly what it's about. (Meta-fiction on the subject of reading?) But I know I read some of it because when I opened the book in an attempt to remember what it was about, I found some notes I'd written. Sorry, Greg. I might have given up, skipped class, and gone to Target. But I'm going to make up for it now. Total redemption. 
7.  A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, George R. R. Martin
For serious. I've been sort of reading the Game of Thrones series for like four years. I need to pull things together and make it happen before I completely forget the details and characters and plot-lines and have to backtrack in order to understand what's happening. Nooooo!!! OK, so I have A Feast for Crows and then A Dance with Dragons and then when I finish those two years from now (or the end of February?), the next book will be out. Winter. Just. Keeps. Coming. 

 Is it weird that 6 out of the 7 books have been adapted for movies and TV? I don't know what it means, but if we were in a Calvino book that might be a significant detail. Or an insignificant one. Who can tell?

A few other wintery books I'd recommend:
The Living, Annie Dillard
Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
The Shining, Stephen King
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris

What's on your winter reading list?

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