Reading in February
A Dozen Snuggle-Worthy Books
For someone who loves the pleasures of winter as much as I, the arrival of February kindles a feeling of melancholy in my soul. It always seems to get here faster than any other month, almost as if the paucity of its days makes it anxious to get started. Twenty-eight short days left for snuggling down beside the fire after long cheek-numbing walks under low grey skies. While it’s certainly true some of our most memorable snowstorms have occurred in March, when that month rolls into view it seems I’m nearly always thinking of spring, with pictures of new plants for the garden swirling like dandelion floss in my head. So I resolve every year to make the utmost of February’s few days of cold weather comfort and, as good books are some of the certain pleasures of winter, here are a dozen vying for my attention in this last full wintertime month. Hopefully, you’ll find some that interest you as well.
Stay warm and read, everybody!
1. My Name is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
I was one of those people who loved Ms. Strout’s last novel, Olive Kitteridge, so I’m looking forward to diving into this new one. It’s earning excellent reviews and Strout has such a preceptive ear for the inner workings of human beings. Her characters are not always likable, but they are always real.
2. Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
This story always scared me a bit when I was small. That sneezing pig/baby was the worst. But Alice stretched my imagination wide, letting in all sorts of colour and light, and I loved it. This is the 150th anniversary of the publication of this fabulous classic and this is a beautiful edition.
3. Threads, The Delicate Life of John Craske
by Julia Blackburn
The story of a Norfolk fisherman who first went to sea at the age of eleven and who became an astonishing embroidery artist. That is an unusual enough description, I realize, and believe me, the book is so, so much more. I discovered it in the window of John Sandoe Books in London this past September and it has become one of the treasures of my library. It’s wonderful.
4. H is for Hawk
by Helen MacDonald
I have really high hopes for this one. I’ve heard so many raves about it. The story of a woman who attempts to train one of the world’s most vicious predators, the goshawk, as a way to cope with the grief over her father’s sudden death. The writer took her inspiration for this endeavor from the path followed by T.H. White in his memoir, The Goshawk, so yes, I want to read that one as well.
Find H is for Hawk, HERE
Find The Goshawk, HERE
5. The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd
by James Rebanks
One of my favorite reads last fall was A Shepherd’s Life, by Cumbrian farmer, James Rebanks. I simply loved it and wanted more the minute I read the last sentence. Fortunately, Mr. Rebanks has complied with this marvelous book that includes wonderful photography of the land he loves. It’s a joy to read.
Find The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd HERE
Find A Shepherd’s Life HERE
6. When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
The writings of a young doctor facing his own death. This is, admittedly, not the expected recommendation for a book to snuggle up with on a cold night. But I’ve heard so many good, good things. Having read a couple of essays by Dr. Kalanithi in the past, I know he is an elegant, thoughtful writer. To read his account of this inescapable journey seems important to me.
7. Lolly Willowes
by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Cannot believe I’ve never read this.
I’m rectifying that this month.
8. Pack My Bag, A Self-Portrait
by Henry Green
The witty autobiography of a witty novelist.
9. Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter
by Diana Athill
I, for one, need to hear what a brilliant ninety-eight year old woman thinks about the things that matter.
10. Knitlandia, A Knitter Sees the World
by Clara Parkes
I can empirically tell you that knitters knit all year long. I have been observed knitting wool scarves at the beach in August, so I know. But really, winter was made for knitting. It’s hard to beat sitting by the fire with a big white dog asleep beside you (or with his head in your lap) while you knit yourself a sweater more beautiful than anything you could possibly find at Saks. This month is also the perfect time to read about knitting when your hands get tired. Perfect month to release this book. Perfect month to read it.
11. The Corfu Trilogy
by Gerald Durrell
I re-read My Family and Other Animals at least once a year. It’s a joy to me. Now there’s a new edition that includes all the Durrell books set on Corfu in one volume.
Divine to be reading of sunny Corfu just now.
12. Bright Wings
An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds
Edited by Billy Collins
They are the jewels in our garden this month. The ruby red of the cardinal.The sapphire blue of the jay. They gather at our feeders and roost in our trees. We feel so fortunate to share our lives with these feathered creatures. This beautiful book celebrates them and they so deserve that celebration.