Here in New England it is currently a balmy -2 degrees outside. The fun and excitement of the holiday season is over and the routines of school and work are about to begin. Rather than feeling let down, the prospect of some cold, quiet months coming my way actually sounds perfect.
The past few years I’ve started to really embrace those winter hibernation months of January through March. There are less social obligations, a shorter household to-do list (no more presents to buy!), and more time to be a homebody and enjoy those indoor hobbies. If you’re a bookish introvert like me, it’s a great time to recharge your batteries. This winter I’m looking forward to doing lots of sewing, baking, and of course reading.
Here are a few books to curl up with this winter for you and the kids in your life:
The Inspector Gamache series
by Louise Penny
The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny is a new favorite seasonal read for me. I received this recommendation from the wonderful Anne Bogel who hosts my favorite book podcast, What Should I Read Next and writes the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. I would never have thought of murder mysteries as cozy, but these are. They take place in a tiny village in Quebec that reminds me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. There are so many scenes of villagers and Inspector Gamache warming themselves by the fire, sipping cafe au lait and eating crossaint–while trying to figure out who the murderer is of course. I’m not normally a mystery person, and certainly not murder mysteries, but these are more than plot, they’re smart and filled with observations on life and human nature you’ll want to slow down and re-read. I dove in with the newest book, Glass Houses, which I enjoyed, but it was a bit confusing keeping the characters straight. I think it’s best to start at the beginning. The first few books are good, I just finished number 3, but I’ve heard they get better and better.
The Hired Girl
by Laura Amy Schlitz
If re-reading Little Women or Jane Eyre is on your list this winter, add The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz to your reading pile. This Young Adult book was published in 2015, but fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs feels like a classic heroine. It’s 1911 and Joan is facing a life of endless drudgery on a Pennsylvania farm with her brothers and cruel father who has denied her an education and even burned her beloved books. A new life begins when she decides to run away to Baltimore, changes her name, and become a “Hired Girl”. She winds up working for a wealthy Jewish family in this completely absorbing coming-of-age story. I absolutely loved this book, to the point where I was setting my alarm to 5am each day to have time to read it before school. Highly recommend.
The Long Winter
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Feeling like you have a bit of cabin fever? Look no further than The Long Winter from the Little House series. Laura Ingalls and her family are living in De Smet, in the Dakota territory when they must face seven (yes, seven!) months of blizzards from October to April during the terrible winter from 1880-1881. Snow is up to the rooftops and trains can’t reach the town to bring food or fuel. The family is houseband and has to try to band together and make the best of it. Almanzo Wilder (Laura’s future husband) decides to make a perilous journey to get wheat for the starving town. Several days trapped at home at home isn’t seeming so bad now, right? This is part of one of my all time favorite series, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you have never read these books before, go back and start at the beginning with Little House in the Big Woods.
by William Steig
Brave Irene by William Steig would be a great picture book read aloud with your little ones this time of year. Irene’s mother is a dressmaker and has spent hours upon hours making a dress for a duchess, but catches a cold and cannot deliver it. The duchess is counting on wearing that dress to a ball tonight, what can be done? Irene decides to brave a snowstorm and sets out on a journey to deliver the dress for her mother. This is such a sweet story and little Irene is a great example of perseverance. The duchess also reminded me of Lady Grantham from Downton Abbey, which is a favorite show of mine this time of year.
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