Weekend reading: Something warm

The view from my window is of pure white today, the only contrast being the brick houses and bare trees that look almost black against the snow. Smoke puffs from a chimney across the street, a hint of warmth inside, but otherwise everything looks frozen.

It’s a perfect day to read, curled up on the couch, under a quilt, the lamp on the table illuminating the page, the wind outside a gentle roar, the perfect accompaniment to the frozen landscape.

I remember reading Smilla’s Sense of Snow during one winter, and never being warm. I finished The Shipping News in January too, and felt cold and damp for days. As a child, The Long Winter had me burrowed deep under my covers, wondering what it would be like to be Laura and to wake up with a thin sheet of ice covering your quilt. In that book, unlike  Little House in the Big Woods, it was too cold even for Pa to play his fiddle, so it wasn’t hard to imagine the terror of a coyote’s wail during a long winter night. Remember Cold Mountain? Yes, it was.

With a weekend forecast calling for more snow, and another polar freeze setting in early next week, what’s a winter-weary reader to do? I propose we turn our attention to warmth. Here are five books, all great stories set in sunny, tropical climes, that might help take the chill out of winter, at least for a little while.

Tourist Season, Carl Hiaasen. Florida state political scandal gone hilariously wrong.

Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley. Los Angeles noir, a great mystery and unforgettable characters.

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Epic story of three characters against the backdrop of violent struggle to establish the independent republic of Nigeria.

Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter. Think Elizabeth Taylor on the Isle of Capri. Funny, poignant, old Hollywood.

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett. Terrorists hold hostage an auditorium full of dignitaries in a small South American country.

What about you? Any warm weather reading to recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

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