A Perfect Reading List for Staying Indoors
Our resident reader with a cure for the winter blues
Before I, the Wondercade Bookstorian, proffer my list to you, Neil has agreed to indulge me a smidgen of soapboxing. In this day and age, there appears to be a consensus that winter is the most contemptible time of the year. It’s bleak, it’s dark, and the mercury and capacity for joy are equally low. Yet it’s this very cooped-up state that beckons people into my world, where a simple story — ideally accompanied by a roaring fire and warming libation — has the capacity to outdo all of your real-world escapades from the rest of the year. And do I have some stories for you…
If you feel your attention span has been decimated by the cheap thrills of endless streaming, I suggest rehabbing your concentration with Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu. Think of it as a short story collection for people who don’t like short stories, or a literary version of Black Mirror that employs a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer.
If true crime is your guilty pleasure, Devil House by John Darnielle is a meta pathway into the genre I doubt many have tread before.
But for those simply seeking a page-turner — which is never as simple as it seems — Antoine Wilson’s Mouth to Mouth binds together a near-death experience, deception and the machinations of the art world in a story within a story. And it’s a debut to boot.
All right, enough with the pulse-quickening fare. For those who prefer their reading paired with hot chocolate rather than a dram and a nightlight, why not delve into a book you’ll dine out on for months?
In Seven Games: A Human History, Oliver Roeder’s subjects include checkers, backgammon, chess, poker, bridge, Go and Scrabble, and his illuminations and anecdotes are arguably more thrilling than the games themselves.
Meanwhile, in biography-land, Buster Keaton is finally getting his due. There are two competing tomes about the vaudevillian-turned-moviemaker, including James Curtis’s definitive doorstopper Buster Keaton…
…and Dana Stevens’s livelier Camera Man, which argues for his unique genius. Dealer’s choice there.
For the wee readers with oversized imaginations, put a copy of the late Gary Paulsen’s Northwind in their hands. (I’d venture to guess most of you have read Hatchet, that classic tale of wilderness survival.) This final novel is a fitting end, with a child once again among the elements but this time traversing fjords.
The teenagers in your household may prefer Ironhead, or, Once a Young Lady by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem, which is newly translated from the Dutch by Kristen Gehrman, as it offers a new take on the escapism of a young woman disguising herself as a man in order to break free of her circumstances. Then again, those circumstances — of forced marriage and brutal war in the early 1800s — are rather more than pulse-quickening.
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