Last December, Crime Reads discussed holiday films in a feature entitled 10 Thrillers You Forgot Take Place During Christmas. Now, Himself’s idea of a Christmas film is more Die Hard than Holiday Inn and, despite my joy in holiday smaltz, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably mine, so I thought it was time for a different tack on my seasonal reading – a more wintry take if you like …
While most of my generation would cite Chronicles of Narnia as much loved children’s books they still enjoy now, I tend more towards His Dark Materials – both are wintry, both adventures where the main characters are children, and both allegories on religion. One disclosure on this particular choice of mine – I was an adult when I read both collections. If not so overloaded with reading options, I’d be considering seasonal re-reads of both collections.
Russian classics tend to feature heavily in wintry books but, as most would be considered far too depressing for holiday reading, I opted for Doctor Zhivago. Still marvellous and bleakly Russian, there’s beauty and romance to enjoy too; having read it while in school, perhaps it’s time for a re-read.
Alan encouraged me to read Dorothy L Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey books and amongst his specific recommendations was The Nine Tailors – a wintry tale set at New Year’s Eve, of bell-ringing and influenza – one bonus being it’s already on my kindle, ready to be enjoyed.
I considered adding a Jack London classic to my list but discarded them as too bleak. Discarded also was Pratchett’s Hogfather on the basis I’d already seen the adaptation and didn’t love it, together with some seasonal James Herriott for being too cozy.
I decided instead to include more murder mysteries and picked an Agatha Christie (for how could I not) selecting Murder at Hazelmoor, which seems to have been re-released as The Sittaford Mystery for some unknown reason. Then on to Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow – a classic Scandi-Noir, published before the term was commonplace. It wins out over Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers – a Kurt Wallender mystery tale of which I’ve already seen two excellent TV adaptations.
Staying with Scandinavian tales, I’m adding a collection of short stories – Winter’s Tales from Izak Dineson/Karen Blixen – as it’s good to have a book you can dip in and out of easily in the Christmas run up.
As a complete change of pace, I’m drawn to Bernice L Rocque’s work of historical fiction based in Connecticut in the 1920s – Until the Robin Walks on Snow – which includes a description of the family Polish and Lithuanian’s Christmas Eve traditions. And finally, Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice which starts with tragedy but ends with Christmas working its magic – for you didn’t think I could totally avoid the magic of Christmas – did you?
Do you find winter a good time for reading, what with its connections to snuggling up on sofas and in front of fires (for the lucky ones among us)? If so, do you select a wintry read, or prefer to escape the cold with something more tropical?
© Debra Carey, 2019