reads for chilly winter days

Cue short spew of complaints: a sore throat and sinus issues totally incapacitated me today beyond the ability to sit on my behind and read. You understand how this works. For goodness’ sake, Minnesota is experiencing negative temperatures, so I guess I should be thankful for the excuse to stay inside.

Was I thankful? Hmm… a person like myself who is always going didn’t necessarily see the possibility in a day at home. I wish I could grin and bear nose-blowing better. I wish I could relax and accept book-reading days more graciously. Dozens of children have died from the flu this season, so complaints over a teensy half-formed cold are not earned. But I can’t help moaning when I’m coughing like a smoker and gulping so much tea I could swim in it.

I spent the afternoon mindlessly reorganizing my Pinterest boards. Yeah. I know.

World, I’m sorry I have no tolerance for the slightest of nasty colds – okay? I’m sorry. They make me feel miserable and useless. I know my “to-do” list included the post office, and the gym, and important conversations, and reading smart articles. I just couldn’t rouse the troops. They were, ahem, deathly ill.

You wouldn’t want a sick woman serving you food – and I really don’t feel quite healthy enough to serve you words today, either – so I’ll hire a substitute. Today’s substitute teachers consist of my recent cold weather friends and authors on my English Honors Program book list (do not be deceived, I really did graduate from college. I am, however, finishing this esteemed program on my own time before walking in May).

So without further elaboration on my health problems, let me simply make recommendations to steer you towards more hearty writers. I’m obviously incapable of doing much more than clicking my trackpad and boiling water today. I’ll go blow my nose, and you can peruse the books below at your leisure (or add them to your library queue).

Whether you’re home sick, home sick, or just sick of the darn cold, here are some quality books to get your hands on this winter:


Stephen King’s On Writing: I’ve never read a novel by the King, but I’m gobbling up his memoir/writing guide. It’s hilarious, evocative, and brilliant. It’s also easy to read. If you’re a writer, you’ll read this with a highlighter in hand and a notebook close by. If you’re not a writer, I assure you you’ll enjoy King’s story of how he became… well, Stephen King. Seriously, this is a fascinating book that shows the man truly knows how to tell a story.

(Next on my list: I will brave The Shining, although it is a horror novel, and I do not typically partake of horror, and I’m afraid of reading this once the sun goes down… but if my skirt-wearing, soft-spoken, small-town, girly 65-year-old Western Lit professor can handle The King, so can I!)

I savored One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Oh my. If 2013 leaves you bone dry reeling for a little peace and inspiration, if you’re already caught up in the joy-sucking cares of our tiresome day-to-day world, please. Take a deep breath. Check this book out of the library. Ann will shower you in the grace of her poetry and share her personal journey towards the simplest of life-lessons: the importance of giving thanks. Not only is this lovely book personal and literary, it’s devotional in nature, and it will leave you breathless and chewing on truths that can change your life.

My advisor from Hope College and I took a dare together. Our dare is to read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and then talk about how Rene Girard‘s literary theories apply. I’m halfway through this tome. I’ve gotta tell you, I was scared stiff to begin. IT’S A THICK MONSTER. But once I eased in, I couldn’t climb back out so easy. The story’s gripping. Have you ever heard a murderer’s perspective before? Have you been to 19th-century Russia, St. Petersburg to be exact? Nope, me neither. So read on, dear ones. (Note: get the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It was recommended to me as one of the best.)

Finally, I’ve added The Mystery of God’s Will by Charles Swindoll to my morning devotional time. I’ve just begun, but already I am grateful to Swindoll for this book on such a controversial and important topic. God’s will – how to even begin to explain it? Swindoll brings us into the mystery and gives grace to understand the not understanding, even when we wish we could.

I plan to curl up with Dostoevsky for the evening – considering that I have 250 pages yet to go, I need to get cracking. Lovely!

What have you read lately that you’ve loved and would highly recommend?

Wishing you health, happy reading, and more energy than I had today. Cheers to cold days and good books.


8 thoughts on “reads for chilly winter days

  1. You’ve got some good reads here. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of “Crime and Punishment”. Russian lit was something of a specialty for me in my undergraduate program and this was definitely my favorite work.

    I hope you feel better soon!

    • How helpful to have studied Russian lit (the way names work in Russian culture is still baffling me… I should do some self-study). Anna Karenina remains a favorite and I’m sure after C&P, I’ll be tackling The Brothers K. Thanks for reading!

  2. I just started reading “On Writing” and I love it, too. (Though the part about his ear surgery made me a bit queasy) We’ll have to talk once I finish…if I finish. Feel better, my friend.

    • Yes, the ear part was gruesome, but it illuminated how early formative experiences might have developed his fascination with the horrific! Thanks for the well wishes… yes, we’ll talk!

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