Winter. The weather outside is indeed frightful, and it's true, the fire really is delightful. I'm not the biggest fan of winter, but it has its high points. For one, it's eerily beautiful outside; with thick, foggy steam rising from every available chimney, the entire world blanketed in white. From the warmth of indoors, the frosty exterior is truly lovely to behold. Especially in the morning, when dawn casts everything in a shade of pink and the air is thick with fog.
Yes, winter makes me poetic. Winter has a great many effects on me, from my intense need for sleep and comfort food to my voracious reading habits. Over the past couple of weeks I've gobbled my way through a staggering amount of books. It was only today, when I ran out of books to read and had to make a trip to the bookstore that I realized how many I'd gone through. Santa had been good to me this year in the book department, and having run out after only nineteen days was a little surprising. So, I've decided to give you the highlights of all the best I've read so far this year. Winter is definitely a time for reading, so grab a soft blanket, pull your chair up close to the fire and get ready for some good reads.
The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
A girlfriend suggested this one to me, and I'm so glad she did. It was lovely. It tells the story of Dora, a young woman unable to make up her mind on what she wants out of life. When her grandmother (who raised her when her parents died), Mimi, has a stroke, Dora drops everything and drives home to see her. She ends up taking over her grandmother's vintage clothing store while she's in the hospital, and discovers a whole new side to herself when she indulges her grandmother's longest wish - for her to wear vintage. She discovers a whole new side of her grandmother as well, when she finds out that Mimi has been writing stories to go along with the dresses she sells.
It's a wonderful tale, full of the power of vintage and guaranteed to get you perusing vintage shops. Seriously, not long after reading this book I found myself shopping on websites for vintage dresses. There's nothing more enticing than old school glamour.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I'd wanted to read this one for a very long time, so I was extra excited to find it under the tree for me this year. This novel tells the story of Rose, who on her ninth birthday discovers she can taste people's emotions in the food they make. Unfortunately, it has a rather eye opening effect, and Rose discovers that her mother, who seemed happy and content, is actually rather hollow and unfulfilled. Her gift reveals a world of secrets to Rose, secrets she's not so sure she wants to know.
This book was written in a very unique style, with no quotation marks around spoken words. It was a little confusing at times, but gave a nice flow to the story. It was such an interesting idea, I really couldn't put it down. It's the kind of book you'll think about for days afterward. Not to mention, it really makes you hungry for lemon cake with chocolate icing.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I first heard about this book while I was competing in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The author had written a pep talk for those competing, in which she described her own trials while working on The Night Circus. She had several mysterious characters doing mysterious things very mysteriously, but it wasn't going anywhere. So, to shake things up, she took all her characters and put them in a circus, just to see what would happen. And what happened was a masterpiece. It is a book so intoxicating to read that you never want it to end. It's so visual and stimulating, so imaginative and fantastical. I really can't say enough good things about this book, but since I refuse to give anything away, I'll have to leave it at that.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Filled with strange and disturbing old photographs, the story itself is just as strange. It tells the story of Jacob, who goes on a search for answers after the horrific death of his grandfather. It turns out that the fantastical tales his grandfather told him about his childhood are true, as are the dark, nightmarish monsters that had hunted him all his life. And those same monsters are now hunting Jacob.
I loved the sheer strangeness of this book, particularly the photos. It was such a creative idea, with a new take on the idea of mutants and strange abilities. I had a really hard time putting this one down.
And there you have it. These are the best of what my winter reading olympics have so far had to offer. I hope they offer you many a comfy and cozy evening of reading, inside by the fire. Spring will come one day, but until then, there's always good books.