Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wintery Reads to Curl Up With...

Hi All!!

I don't know about you guys, but for me late fall into early winter conjures up images of curling up alongside a roaring fire with a great book.  Quintessential winter activity.  Or of hunkering down in a cozy cafe with a gripping read.  Really, any time, day or year to me is "the time" to read great books.  But something about this time of year, the dip in temperature outside, the barren, spindly trees, the biting winds and the increasingly ever-so-enticing indoors beckons, along with a great book.

Therefore, I've come up with a list of those which I would label as especially fitting wintry reads:

Empire Falls:  The perfect small town story.  Not only is this story gripping and entails a slight bit of mystery and suspense, but the small town feel of the book is incredibly cozy.

The Big Stone Gap:  Another great small town tale, super charming, lovely, relatable and inviting to curl up under a cozy blanket with.  And when you get hooked, don't despair.  Its a series!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:  A classic, lyrically written, charming coming of age story about the Nolan family growing up entrenched in poverty and thrown amidst numerous life obstacles, narrated by the wise, romantic, wise-beyond-her-years, poetic Francie Nolan.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  Its incredibly written and a wonderful read.

M Train.  Fans, get excited.  This is Patti's follow up to Just Kids (her phenomenal winner of the national book award first memoir and hands down, one of the best books I have ever read in my life).  Crack open this encore to her first for more of Patti's philosophical, poetic musings. 

The Harry Potter series.  Is there ever a bad time to read this series???  I will answer this one for you.  No :-)

Where She Went (Sequel to If I Stay).  Yes, its a "young adult" story, but the plot-line is unique and captivating.  The first one is about Mia who, thrust into a coma after a devastating car crash with her family, is able to hear those around her while immersed in her comatose state.  She must decided after having lost her entire family in the crash whether to "go" or whether to stay, meaning, return to her life on earth but now, without her family.  "Where She Went" is the romantic and magical sequel.

The Night Circus: This story contains the illusions of Harry Potter but the magical scenes are even more visually stunning, captivating and spellbinding.  The story is romantic, thrilling and dark.  This is a book that really intrigues the senses of the reader and swirls to life ones imagination.  This tale truly beckons.  

The Secret Keeper:  I really loved this one.  A suspense story right up until the very end, giving its big reveal only upon its conclusion, the build up is a slow burning, mesmerizing unraveling of an intriguing mystery as well as a heart rendering love story.  

A Dangerous Fortune:  This book endures as one of my all time favorites.  The book starts off at an all-boys school among four close friends, young teenagers.  One boy murders another while the four are cooling off, escaping the summer heat in the respite of a quarry.  This book spans over decades and takes us from the glitziest ballrooms to the grittiest brothels, following one family and the lengths they will go to in order to keep this secret covered up.  The story grabs a hold of you.  The characters are complex and fascinating.  The villains are awesome and sinister.  I've read it many times and will continue to read it sporadically throughout my life.  Its that good.  

Its Just a F*cking Date:  This is a fun one!  By the authors of "Hes Just Not That Into You" (though I wasn't a big fan of that one.  Merely scanned that one, didn't bother to read it.  But thought the writing was kind of lackluster and dull).  This one is witty and insightful.  

The Goldfinch.  As I have said before, this will always be on every one of my book lists :-D.  One of my favorites ever.  Magnificent.  Mind-blowing.  Totally enrapturing and captivating.  Enough said.

The Secret History.  This is a dark one.  By the same author as The Goldfinch (though the Goldfinch is better by leaps and bounds).  This story takes place tucked within the mountains of a New England college, focusing on five young college students who form a secret society of sorts.  This book is about the sinister...terrifying...malevolent side of human nature, as well as is just plain creepy in general.  Certainly an intriguing read, I plowed through it pretty quickly.

White Oleander: I read this one years and years ago, though remember loving it, the story really striking a chord with me.  I suspect will say this one better then I could (it having been so long since I read it), so here is their synopsis:

Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery - but their idyll is shattered when Astrid's mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison. White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrid's journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances. Each home is its own universe, with a new set of laws and lessons to be learned. With determination and humor, Astrid confronts the challenges of loneliness and poverty, and strives to learn who a motherless child in an indifferent world can become. Oprah Winfrey enjoyed this gripping first novel so much that she not only made it her book club pick, she asked if she could narrate the audio release.

Sherlock Holmes:  Classic stories and there is a valid reason for this,  Enthralling, fascinating and superbly written.  Sherlock Holmes stories are must reads.  They are lots of fun to try and unravel the mystery by oneself before Sherlock reveals it for us.

Tuesdays with Morrie:  This is another one that will always remain one of my favorites.  A true story, about a teacher to the author of the book.  Morrie was always the authors favorite teachers in school.  Morrie is one of those teachers who moves their students deeply, one of the few people who truly takes time to listen to others, who values and cares for people very much.  One day, Mitch (the author) finds out that Morrie has a terminal illness, so he pays a visit to his old teacher.  This starts a weekly routine during which the two of them meet.  To talk, reminisce, but mostly for Morrie to tell Mitch what he feels have been the most important lessons of his life.  What follows is a deeply emotional, insightful, moving book chalk full of life lessons that are thought provoking and deep.

Dear John:  This is a great Nicholas Sparks story.  John, an angry, rebellious teenager, has no clue what to do with his life so he enlists in the army.  Then he meets Savannah, a woman he falls deeply in love with.  While off fulfilling his duty, the two correspond through love letters, and during the times he can get away, they spend time together.  However, upon the occurrence of 9/11, John feels he must re-enlist.  They initially try to make it work but eventually, John receives a heart crushing letter from Savannah, telling him she has fallen in love with someone else.  Upon returning home from duty, he must face with the fact that she is still his greatest life love, but is married to another person...
Warning: this is a tear jerker.

How to Win Friends and Influence People:  One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.  The synopsis follows the theme of its namesake, giving one the tools and ideas in order to win friends, communicate well with people, influence others and how to be likable in general.  An easy, relatable read, this is definitely worth reading.  In fact, I would argue that it should be required reading in all high schools.  I suspect we would have a lot more happy, socially adept people if we did!

Mating in Captivity:  This is one of the top non fiction, relationship/sex books I have ever read.  I highly, highly recommend this for all (as with the previous book, How to Win Friends..).  Another book that, if it were required reading, I suspect we would have greater romantic relationship success as a collective whole.  Really readable, interesting, insightful and thought provoking.  It will cause you to consider your long-term relationships in a much different light.

Here is the synopsis from

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.
Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.

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