"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best Fireside Reads

Since winter is kind of a joke where I live, people have to make up ways of knowing when it's actually here. For some, it's pulling out boots and scarves (many of which are more decorative than they are warm), and for some it's the moment they start selling the pumpkin lattes at Starbucks. In our house we know it's not the holiday season until there is a blazing fire in our fireplace.

So, in honor of our first warm, toasty fire, I've compiled a list of great fireside reads. Get some logs going, curl up in an armchair, and enjoy any of these on a wintry night.

1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Reason: This book is perfect for any time you want to lose yourself in a simpler time. The characters are sweet, the descriptions are delicious, and the book itself is a beautiful testament to enjoying the little things in life.
Quote: "The weary mole also was glad to turn in without delay, and soon he had his head on his pillow, in great joy and contentment. But ere he closed his eyes he let them wander round his old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight that played or rested on familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously part of him, and now smilingly received him back, without rancor." 

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Reason: This book has it all: humor, tragedy, love, family, scenes of decadence and of poverty.  Being surrounded by the four March girls was like being around the sisters I never had. If books could have hearts, Little Women would have a big one.
Quote: "On Christmas night, a dozen girls piled onto the bed which was the dress circle, and sat before the blue and yellow chintz curtains in a most flattering state of expectancy. There was a good deal of rustling and whispering behind the curtain, a trifle of lamp smoke, and an occasional giggle from Amy, who was apt to get hysterical in the excitement of the moment. Presently a bell sounded, the curtains flew apart, and the Operatic Tragedy began."

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Reason: I love this book. Seriously. I can't recommend it enough. It's mysterious, atmospheric, and beautiful in a ghostly way. Perfect for a dark and stormy night.
Quote: "All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind, and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."

4. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Reason: If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know that Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors. This book is the second in The Books of Bayern, a series set in the same world as The Goose Girl. I promise, after reading this book, you won't look at fire the same way again.
Quote: "She was aware of all the living around her. She could feel its heat- the trees, the sleeping animals in their arms or in holes in the ground. Even the frozen grass was still alive at its root, still emanating tiny strings of heat. Her sense of it was much stronger than at first, and she knew she could draw on it at any moment."

5. The Tales of Beedle and the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Reason: Actually any of the Harry Potter books would be a great fireside read, but I chose this one because of its format. These are strange and beautiful stories that deserve to be savored, especially for those who want to disappear into the world of Harry Potter without re-reading the lengthy books.
Quote: "'Now you are healed and will know true love!' cried the maiden, and she embraced him. The touch of her soft white arms, the sound of her breath in his ear, the scent of her heavy gold hair: All pierced the newly awakened heart like spears. But it had grown strange during its long exile, blind and savage in the darkness to which it had been condemned, and its appetites had grown powerful and perverse."

6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Reason: This is another book that I absolutely love. It is whimsical and lighthearted, but it also has a thread of sadness running through it that I can't quite explain. Overall, its more beautiful and fascinating and complicated than I ever imagined it would be, and I highly recommend it.
Quote: "Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John's, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, and Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents; but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other's nose and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more."

A few more recommendations:
-Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
-The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
-Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
-Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
- Anything by Edgar Allen Poe

Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my list and if you have anything to add I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

ps. Stay tuned for more! For the next five days that I'm off from school I will be doing a blog post a day. Tomorrow's post: People Who Rock My World

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to put a vote in the column of the somewhat obscure Newberry winning "Hitty" as well. Considering the year that it was written, it was a groundbreaking story to tell to little girls, daringly opening the whole world to them.
    And I have to mention the fabulous illustrations by Dorothy Lathrop.
    See some of Ms Lathrop's work here: http://theanimalarium.blogspot.com/2011/09/dorothy-lathrop-exquisite-love.html