One of the most sincere and delicious pleasures of the impending winter break is the available time it gives for reading something that is not for work. It’s not like the summer break, which stretches out before you with seemingly endless opportunities for leisure reading. Sadly, only a small portion of this reading is ever accomplished. Sandwiched in between the catch up work from a busy semester (hello Frances Hodgson Burnett draft and database cleaning) and holiday parties, gatherings, and shopping is just a little slip of time for reading. Thus, the winter reading book must be chosen carefully. I say book because really there’s not enough time for more than one novel. It has to be the kind of novel you can dip in and out of, but want to read in one gulp. It doesn’t need to evoke the season, yet, it needs to feel like it is meant to be read on a long winter’s night in front of fire. (Preferably, with a glass of good wine or hot chocolate, calories be damned.)
I haven’t found my winter book yet, though I am in the middle of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, which as it moves inexorably to the horrors of the first World War, seems appropriate enough. (Brittain is the kind of acerbic writer that I feel like I would have been friends with, despite the sting of her wit.) Yet, as best of lists flood the internet, I’m presented with other choices. And really, Brittain is both work and pleasure since I’m reading Testament of Youth because I want to teach a class on women writers of the interwar years. Commentary Magazine‘s best of list includes Janet Lewis’s The Wife of Martin Guerre, the description of which sounds intriguing. I’ve been also wanting to read Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, but again perhaps to0 work related. I’ll probably end up reading the first book in the mystery series my friend Glinda recommended. After all, nothing beats a good ghost story at Christmas. I just finished Charles Finch’s most recent book in his Charles Lennox Victorian mystery series, so I’m kind of in the mystery frame of mind. Any other ideas?