5 excellent books to read during the winter holidays
The winter solstice brings the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. A great night to read.
I have taught English and creative writing in profitable Binghamton, NY for over 40 years—always reading, writing, examining and judging– so it wasn’t hard for me to find something to read. Just to choose.
I’ve selected five books for the darkest time of the year to save you from the same indecision.
1. Henry David Thoreau, “Walden Pond(1854)
Thoreau’s Walden Pond America’s most famous nature book is filled with the author’s observations of the forests near Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. Walden It begins in July, but Thoreau welcomes winter in some of the book’s most beautiful passages.
“The north wind had already begun to cool the pond,” writes Thoreau, “by the time it entered the winter season.” Needless to say, he didn’t stay inside much.
Most of us won’t lie facedown on “just an inch-thick ice,” as Thoreau reports, but we can read that he did it while staying warm. Thoreau noticed frozen bubbles stacked “like a string of beads” or “silver coins pouring out of a purse.” She catalogs the colors of the pond – how she loves to catalog! – from “transparent” to dark green, “opaque and whitish or gray”. In winter, he burned the pine, rotting logs, walnut tree, dry leaves, and logs he had dragged home while he was slipping in the pond. The fuel provided him with warmth, cooked food, and companionship. “You can always see a face in the fire,” Thoreau wrote.
In the winter, it hosted rare people like Bronson, the father of writer friend Louisa May Alcott. But mostly he encountered the fox, squirrel, nightingale, jay, and the striped owl, which he described as the “cat’s winged brother.” Thoreau delights in the sound of melting ice and describes the moonlit rescues of the hikers he accompanied to the borders of civilization.
Five cold episodes Walden For those who haven’t read this powerful book and come back to it, prepare a winter sample.
No poet has sung the winter quite like the award-winning poet and New Englander Robert Frost. In his wonderful work “Standing in the Forest on a Snowy Evening,” he pays homage to the solitude of winter:
“Between the forest and the frozen lake/The darkest evening of the year.”
Robert Frost’s Poetry It weighs over 600 pages. You come too, A beautifully compiled edition of poetry for young people, less than 100.
Both books feature popular mid-winter favorites. Even their titles show the poet’s strong connection to the barracks: “Searching for the Sunset Bird in Winter”; “A Hillside Thaw” (“Ten million silver lizards from the snow!”); “Goodbye and Keep Cool”; “A Piece of Old Snow.”
In “Birches,” Frost talks about branches that turn raindrops into ice crystals that melt with sunlight.
“Fragmentation and avalanche on the snow crust-“
“Such heaps of broken glass to sweep”
“You would think the inner dome of heaven has collapsed.”
Frost’s poems are easily memorized and are very pleasant to read aloud during heavy storms.
As Frost has written for all ages, so did Dylan Thomas. A Child’s Christmas in Wales– available in the original Tiffany blue New Directions paperback edition, elegantly decorated with illustrations by Ellen Raskin – a winter poem made to be sung. We can even hear the poet saying it out loud. 1952 record.
You don’t have to be Welsh to enjoy Thomas’s childhood by the sea. You don’t even need to celebrate Christmas.
“One Christmas was so similar to another,” the poem begins, “that I can never remember if it snowed when I was 12/six days and nights/or 12 days/12 nights when I was six.”
Italo Calvino combines magic, metafiction, philosophy, danger and love. A Traveler on a Winter’s Night. Calvino’s most surprising work challenges readers’ assumptions about reading and storytelling.
It’s not exactly a novel, but contains the first chapter of 10 novels invented by 10 fictional authors. Is it still winter? A reader may wonder. Has it ever been winter?
As Calvino admits, “The only truth I can write is the truth of the moment.”
Some gardeners spend all winter daydreaming. Others spend it heavily planning.
A Garden of Hundred Packs of Seeds He proposes a radically old-fashioned approach – simply growing a garden from seed. Author James Fenton explains:[S]The folly was part of what I was after: buy a pack of nasturtium seeds and plant them, grow very tall sunflowers – that’s what gardening means.
A garden doesn’t need expensive starter plants or even a plan. As in gardens, the big question in life is: What do I want to grow?
Winter reveals simplicity: the stark black-and-white landscape it offers, the bare-bones landscape. It encourages readers to do the same, freeing themselves from unnecessary things and making room for life. As there is a famous proverb, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, there will be less joy in your life, but the same amount of snow.”
Also, as December ends, we turn the corner towards the light.
Liz Rosenbergprofessor of English, general literature and rhetoric, Binghamton University, State University of New York.
This article has been republished at: Speech Under Creative Commons license. To read original article.
Our new weekly Impact Report newsletter examines how ESG news and trends are shaping the roles and responsibilities of today’s managers. Subscribe.
#excellent #books #read #winter #holidays