Part Two: Winter Recommendations from Bloggers, Commenters & Friends

"Lavacourt under Snow," Claude Monet

“Lavacourt under Snow,” Claude Monet

It’s winter!  What are you reading?

It’s time for cocoa and books.

And so I asked several bloggers, commenters, and friends for winter recommendations.   Fiction? Poetry?  Nonfiction?  Cozy? Mysteries? Classics?  You’ll find it all.

You can read Part One  here.

And now:


tale-of-cuckoo-wood-albert-paperback-1957697-mJean writes,

Currently, I am reading “The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood” by Susan Wittig Albert. It is the third in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. Normally, I am not a “cozy” mystery person, but I love Beatrix Potter (her 150th Birthday was celebrated in 2016) and these books are delightful! Please note: you must be able to suspend all sense of reality when the animals start talking. If this type of book doesn’t interest you, I recommend “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve read it three times and each time, I just fall into the story within the first paragraph. Who wouldn’t want to find the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? A great family saga for long winter nights is “Greenbanks” by Dorothy Whipple. I’ve been turning to old favorites too. Willa Cather, Jane Austen (especially “Persuasion”) and you reminded recently me how much I love “On the Eve” by Turgenev. I must reread it soon!


Elaine Pigeon of Pigeonfiles:  Reading and Travel Writing  writes,

odd-women-gissing-6a00e55268c31388330154378a1673970c-320wiAlong with a small online group, I’m reading George Gissing’s The Odd Women [1893]. The novel is a response to an actual imbalance in the ratio of women to men in England, resulting in a shortage of marriageable males, which led to the emergence of the “New Woman.” While the so-called new woman earned her living by writing, other women were forced to find jobs and these were quite limited: service, governess, companion, shop girl, or type-writer. The narrative hinges on three middle-class sisters who must make their own way in life and a feminist figure, who tries to help these women by offering office training, the best of the available jobs for women. While this background is interesting on its own, Gissing also provides a feminist critique of marriage that is quite the eye-opener.

Gissing wrote 23 novels, yet many readers have not heard of him or read him. He is a rewarding find, so we plan to read his most popular novel next, The New Grub Street, about the conflict between hack writing versus art. Gissing is proving to be a great find.

I also started reading the bio on the fascinating Jean Rhys and another one of her short novels. To counter her rather grim take on life, I am also expanding my reading of Clarice Lispector, another modern writer who in her experimental writings is more uplifting. This should keep me busy for a while.

Joan Kyler of Planet Joan writes,

I’m about a third of the way into Pere Goriot. After a slow start, I’m dying to know what happens to Goriot, his daughters, and the characters at Maison Vauquer. I’m also reading Richard Adams’ A Nature Diary and Jo Nesbo’s Cockroaches. I like a bit of variety in my reading. I wish I could read a book a day. As I’m reading and enjoying ‘this’, I have my eye on ‘that’!


Lory Widmer Hess of  The Emerald City Book Review writes,

troy-chimneys-img_0781-e1454393078788In 2017 I’m trying to tackle a bunch of books that have been sitting on my shelf for some time. This shouldn’t be such a chore — when I got them I was really excited to read them, but somehow I’ve never managed to crack them open.

First up was Troy Chimneys by Margaret Kennedy, a multi-layered, enigmatic historical novel that I really enjoyed once I got past the epistolary framing device in the first few pages. I’m now reading I Was a Stranger by John Hackett, who was wounded and captured in enemy territory during WWII, but was helped to escape and sheltered by a family in Holland. His loving portrait of these courageous people is a bright light during a dark time.

Next I think I might do a reread of an old friend like The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin or Midnight Is a Place by Joan Aiken. With its dark Gothic atmosphere and alternate-historical setting, the latter feels especially appropriate for winter reading — although LeGuin’s anarchist utopian planet could be calling to me too.

Stephanie writes,

As I grew older I began to read more than one book at a time. At first it felt undisciplined. It has come to feel prudent as in: I don’t have enough time to read just one book. That said, I’m currently reading Middlemarch, Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs (wonderfully well written), Pine Island Paradox (Kathleen Dean Moore) and A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm (Edwin Way Teale). The fiction book I last finished was Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.



9 thoughts on “Part Two: Winter Recommendations from Bloggers, Commenters & Friends

      • I had not been aware of Richard Adams’ death. Watership Down is fabulous. It was one of the books that my husband and I read aloud together nearly 25 years ago. We still often use names and expressions learned from the book.


        • Oh, it is a lovely book! I also very much enjoyed Shardik, but then seemed to fall behind with his books. Watership Down was one of the great books of the ’70s/


  1. Elaine,
    I was glad to read your recommendation of The Odd Women. I have enjoyed dipping into it again, and the discussion of it, at least in the peripheral way I have participated. Nice to see friends here!


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