It was fall for about five minutes where I live, and then winter came. And with it came a lot of snow. Did the snow melt right away? No, of course not. Is it still around? Indeed it is. It seems like winter makes itself known every time I look out the window these days, which means it’s time to grab my blanket and head for the couch. Today I want to share five books perfect for these cold, wet days.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Naomi Cottle is a private investigator called upon to find a missing child who disappeared when she and her family searched for a Christmas tree in the forest. A former missing child herself, Naomi is specially equipped to find the missing girl. But, as she begins her search in the snowy woods, memories from her past come back in dreams and force her to face things she thought she’d forgotten. This novel is as atmospheric as they come.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I love novels with a strong sense of place, and The Hunting Party delivers. The story is set at a luxurious, remote lodge where a group of friends come together to celebrate the new year. A blizzard snows in the group, ensuring no one can leave the property. When someone is found dead on New Year’s Day, everyone becomes a suspect as old memories and resentments surface.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Small Things Like These is a novella set during the Christmas season in Ireland. It’s 1985, and Bill Furlong is an honest and hardworking husband, father, and man of faith. He works as a coal merchant and makes a startling discovery when he drops off a delivery to a local convent. This is a slim book but one that will stay with you.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Set in 1920s Alaska, The Snow Child tells the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple who builds a child out of snow. The snow child disappears, but a little girl named Faina appears in the woods. Who she is and where she came from are the questions that power this memorable story. This type of book isn’t what I usually reach for, but I’m glad I read this one. The isolation and brutal cold of winter felt palpable in these pages.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
January and February can be difficult months. The holidays are over, your New Year’s resolutions are probably broken, and winter days can seem longer than ever. Wintering is the perfect book for times like those. Katherine May writes about difficult seasons in her own life and how she learned the importance of rest and reflection. Reading this book felt like a warm hug, but not in a creepy way. You get it.
Do you have any go-to winter reads? Are there certain books you like to pick up in the colder months?
After taking a year off from writing, I missed this space. But I’m back with new ideas and posts to share, and I want to start with my favorite books of 2022. I set a goal to read 75 books this year, and I reached that goal with a few days to spare.
Keep reading to see which titles I loved the most.
My Top 10 Reads of 2022
The Butterfly House by Katrine Engberg
The Butterfly House is the second book of a Danish crime series following two detectives, Jeppe Kørner and Annette Werner, as they solve murders in Copenhagen. In this volume, they’re trying to find a serial killer who uses antique medical tools on their victims before leaving them in public fountains. Clues lead the detectives to a hospital and former psychiatric facility where questions arise about how patients were treated.
The characters here are well-developed, the writing is engaging, and the setting is exactly what you’d want from a dark crime novel. If you’re a fan of the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, don’t miss this book.
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
Dinosaurs was a wonderful surprise. I had never read Lydia Millet before, and I wasn’t even sure what Dinosaurs was about, but I picked it up anyway. I’m glad I did since it became my favorite book of 2022.
The story follows a man named Gil who starts a new life by walking from New York to Arizona after a breakup. Independently wealthy, Gil seeks volunteer opportunities to help bring meaning to his life. He becomes close with the family next door and embraces his new role as a friend and mentor to the couple’s young son.
If you need a lot of plot in your fiction, this isn’t the book for you. But if you want a beautifully told story full of love and hope, don’t miss this gem.
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is one of my go-to authors, one whose work I know I’ll always enjoy. Happy-Go-Lucky might be my new favorite collection from him. Many essays address his time in New York during the Covid-19 pandemic and his complicated relationship with his dying father. In true Sedaris fashion, he brings humor to bleak situations. We could all use some of that after the last few years.
If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
A debut of interconnected short stories, If I Survive You follows a Jamaican immigrant family after they settle in Miami. The protagonist is Trelawny, the family’s younger son, who can’t quite live up to the eldest. He believes he’s meant to be a scholar, but life unfolds differently than he expects. Though this book addresses topics such as racism, classism, and immigration, there’s plenty of humor and lightness to be found. I love this book and can’t wait to see what’s next for Jonathan Escoffery.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Klara of this book’s title is an AF, an Artificial Friend for a sickly 14-year-old girl named Josie. Josie saw AFs in a store’s window display and immediately felt a bond with Klara, who comes home with Josie and her mother. As Klara grows to know Josie, she comes up with a plan to end her sickness. Klara and the Sun is wise and tender with important things to say about science, friendship, and what happens when those two things are combined.
Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
In 1996, teenage Frankie met Zeke and finally found a friend, someone who saw her and encouraged her creativity. The two designed a unique poster and hung it all over town. The cryptic, dark artwork took on a life of its own, scaring the townspeople, who were sure something deadly was coming their way. When a reporter calls thirtysomething Frankie and wants to do a story about the Coalfield Panic, Frankie has to face her past and the choices she made with Zeke. Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a perfectly nostalgic novel about two misfits and the power of art.
This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley
I first became aware of Cole Arthur Riley through her excellent Instagram account, @BlackLiturgies. I knew I’d love her book, and I do, but it surprised me how slowly I wanted to read it. I’m usually a fast reader, but the essays in This Here Flesh deserve to be savored. I took my time, underlining sentence after sentence. In prose that often reads like poetry, Arthur Riley explores faith, family, Christianity, and the stories that shaped her. This Here Flesh is a gorgeous book.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow follows 30 years in the lives of Sam and Sadie, two childhood friends who decide to create a video game together and ultimately become business partners. I expected this book to be lighter than it is, but its depth was a pleasant surprise. Sam and Sadie are well-developed yet flawed characters I rooted for and got frustrated with in equal measure. They love each other, but this book isn’t a love story. They play and make games together, but this book isn’t about gaming. Instead, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a thoughtful, sprawling story about how friendship can sometimes save us.
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
When searching for possible book club selections for the student and staff multicultural book club I co-lead, I picked up When Stars Are Scattered. I started flipping through it and was immediately absorbed by the true story of Omar and Hassan, two brothers growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing war-torn Somalia. Hassan has special needs, so Omar becomes his caretaker, a situation that becomes more complicated when Omar has the chance to attend school.
I don’t read graphic novels very often, and I read middle-grade books even less, so I’m thankful to have stumbled upon this wonderful title. Kids and adults will both appreciate this one.
You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves edited by Diana Whitney
Anthologies rarely, if ever, appear on my favorites list, but this poetry collection is special. Editor Diana Whitney chose poems from a diverse array of poets, including Amanda Gorman, Kate Baer, Andrea Gibson, Elizabeth Acevedo, and many more. The poems would be enough, but the book is also full of beautiful, brightly-colored illustrations. I read this book on a day when I felt down and discouraged, and it was just what I needed. Consider reading this next time you need some comfort and inspiration.
Here’s a list of other books I enjoy and recommend in the order I read them:
And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems by Erica Martin
Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese-American by Laura Gao
The Angel of Rome and Other Stories by Jess Walter
Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman
The Appeal by Janice Hallett
The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency by Pete Souza
2022 was a great year for books, and there are already many 2023 titles I’m excited to read. I’d love to hear what books you loved this year. What books were your 2022 favorites?