Cold weather never travels alone. It packs many well-loved delights in its frosty bag of tricks, including: hot chocolate, gingerbread, nifty patterned gloves and scarves, pumpkin-flavored everything, frozen breath, crackling wood fires, mulled beverages, and fairy lights. Whilst those are wonderful there are other, lesser extolled, pleasures in which to indulge: mint chocolate brownies, hot water bottle cozies, the scent of real pine, watching snow fall at midnight, and seasonal reading. Oh, seasonal reading! How I adore thee.
Yearly I turn to you, as the calendar begins its long hike through winter’s desolate days…
I seek you out to warm my cold soul and chapped heart…
You do things to me that hot drinks and heavy blankets never could…
What a comfort you are, my winter writers!
There is but one solution when faced with the inevitable onslaught of nasty, chilling weather: arm yourself to the teeth with a weighty supply of wonderful books, and dig in for the duration. As soon as temperatures sink, an instinctual survival mode kicks in and I start to ritualize my life-including a long-standing pattern of reading works by the same authors. The books themselves vary, of course, but their progenitors remain fixed. This time of year my preferences tend towards the following qualities of language, attitude, or thought: severity, hardiness, bareness, intellectual passion, bluntness, pluckiness, and mental or emotional resilience.
Do you read in such seasonal ways? If so, please share your favourite cold weather books and/or writers in the comments! Here is my list.
MY TOP SIX COLD WEATHER WRITERS
REASON: Her solitary, willful disposition.
“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide.”
REASON: No one speaks to my deepest soul the way nineteenth-century Russian writers do, Chekhov chief amongst them.
“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”
REASON: The economy of her writing.
“One need not be a chamber to be haunted.”
REASON: The emotional disconnection that I feel when reading any of Hardy’s writing, coupled with his lovely descriptive powers, is a hypnotically somber experience.
“This hobble of being alive is rather serious, don’t you think so?”
REASON: His insight into the contradictory morality of human nature, and how it relates to matters both domestic and commercial, invites genuine contemplation.
“It’s a release to know that in spite of everything a premeditated act of courage is still possible.”
REASON: Her prickly, bloody, disconcerting, bold, and passionate writing screams “barren, melancholy winter” like no one else on this list.
“I lean to you, numb as a fossil. Tell me I’m here.”