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Winter Reads: A Reading List from Open Book Night


Last month we gathered for Open Book Night to discuss good winter reads. With dark, cold days now upon us, we chose titles that would keep us cozy on the couch with a cup of tea and plenty to think about. We hope you’ll find something you’d like to read on this list ,and suggest your own “winter reads” titles in the comments below.

Open Book Night at Mid-Manhattan Library meets on the second Friday of the month and you’re invited! This is a time for avid readers to get together and swap book recommendations. Our next Open Book Night meets on Friday, January 13 at 6 PM. We hope you’ll join us and share a favorite book that keeps you “Looking Forward, Looking Back.”

Smilla's Sense of Snow

Melissa likes to settle down in winter with a good mystery, set in a snowy, cold place. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg is her perfect winter read. Smilla's descriptions of different types of snow and her icy environs warm her to the core.  And, for a darker, grittier read she also recommends Stolkholm Noir.  It's a collection of short stories, perfect for reading while your soup is heating up.

Jessica recommended Swedish Folktales and Legends. These fantastic stories from a northern land are meant to amuse, teach lessons, spread news and gossip, and entertain through reading and oral storytelling. They were written in Sweden, but the themes carry across cultures around the world; the saved princess, the evil witch, and the vagabond traveler all make an appearance in the dark forests of these tales. She loved them for the sense of company they provide while reading, as she knows they’ve passed between generations evolving details and humor as they went.

Norse Mythology

To further the subject of the fantastic, Elizabeth mentioned Neil Gaiman’s forthcoming Norse Mythology and the gods that strive for relevance in his American Gods.





A New York Christmas

Joan found A New York Christmas by Anne Perry the perfect book to enjoy on a cozy evening. A bride arrives in New York in 1904 in this story that she found to be a “well written and constructed mystery with an interesting background of New York Society.” Joan loved this story for its “picturesque writing of New York social life” at the turn of the last century.







Taking us even further back to the 19th century, Elizabeth said that the theme "winter reads" made her think of long Victorian novels. She recommends the sometimes long-winded but entertaining novels of Anthony Trollope, whose nuanced characters remain highly relatable today. Elizabeth also shared that the Trollope experience might be even better on audiobook, read by her favorite narrator, Simon Vance. The Barsetshire novels, a six-novel cycle set in and around a fictional cathedral city, or The Palisers cycle, six novels set in and around the British Parliament, would keep a reader going throughout a long, cold winter.




Jane Eyre

Another reader is also drawn to the Victorian in winter, recommending Charlotte Bronte’s beloved classic, Jane Eyre. She said, “This is a novel about a beleaguered girl who grows up to become a strong, hard-working, capable, and independent woman. She survives cruel relatives, near starvation and deadly disease to learn how to live according to her own principles.” Our reader found that reading changes when you read it at different parts of your life. She really related to Jane’s serenity and strong sense of self.

Lucy found that The Warren Buffett Way Workbook by Robert G. Hagstrom taught her “the principle of investing in the stock market. It answered a lot of questions about investment. It is a good book for people to learn the art of investment in stocks.” When you’re stuck inside because it’s cold and you’re dreaming up New Year’s resolutions, why not learn to invest in the stock market?

Defying the Nazis

Puvi recommended Defying the Nazis: The Sharp’s War By Artemis Joukowsky. This book began as Joukowsky interviewed his grandparents on their experiences during WWII for a high school project and found that they went to Europe to help with the rescue and relief effort. The title intrigued Puvi because the actual events of these people’s lives were as dramatic and intense as a story of fiction. She told us, “What I took from this book is a question: By learning of the history of many European nations and the USA after WWII, can we regroup and avoid WWIII now?” Certainly something to occupy our thoughts through a long winter.

And, since it’s cold, why not stay inside and check out the PBS Documentary by Ken Burns about the story too!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for Open Book Night on December 9. We had a lovely time talking about books with you and appreciate your great recommendations! Readers who come to listen and hear recommendations for books they might enjoy are also most welcome at Open Book Night. Check out these other reading lists to see books recommended at past Open Book Nights. We hope to hear your reading recommendations at an Open Book Night soon or read them in the comments below.


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Melissa's choice

*Stockholm Noir, surely?

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