Now that we have given Thanksgiving its due place in the holiday pantheon, we can begin to celebrate the season of lights... as well as snow, frostbite, ice and their remedies, hot chocolate. Winter, in those areas of the world that actually experience all four seasons, can be gorgeous and brutal, exhilirating and debilitating, all within the space of a few minutes. But it has also sparked some of the finest fiction bound between two covers. So grab a cup of cocoa, wrap a throw around your shoulders and keep warm with these chilly scenes of winter:
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is a novel that has been praised for its eloquent dramatization of themes of love, racism, justice and community. It wraps a suspenseful story of a murder trial with a beautiful evocation of lost love, and brooding, poetic descriptions of place and character. It is a blend of courtroom drama and romance that takes place in a small town in Washington. Set in 1954, the novel examines the dynamics of the fictitious community of San Piedro Island after World War II and the aftermath of the Japanese-American internment in that era.
The Golden Compass (originally published in England as Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman is usually designated a young-adult book, but don't let that fool you. It's not just for tweens and teens. It's the first novel in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and it's a wonderous fantasy set in a world that parallels our own, but with magical twists and thoughtful, thought-provoking turns. The novel tells the story of a young girl named Lyra Belacqua who, it turns out, is destined to save the world. Lyra, like the heroes of many children's novels, grows up more or less an orphan, yet lives happily among the scholars of Jordan College in Oxford until her best friend Roger is kidnapped. His disappearance, along with other strange occurrences, sets off a course of events that leads her (with a band of gypsies) into the coldest and darkest part of the earth, the North. You will feel the hostile wind biting your cheeks as you read this book, which manages to be a page-turning thriller AND a philosophical meditation at once.
And that's just a start for your winter's reading... next up, holiday stories!
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