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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mid-Winter Rut Reading List

Winter's my favorite season. I love the crisp-ness outside, and the coziness inside. That being said, though, Februaries have a tendency to play with my mind. I always associate them with being busy, being bored, and having wet slush instead of pretty snow, which of course doesn't raise my opinion of them.

But what better way to banish the February-blahs than with reading? If you're stuck in a mid-winter rut, try out these books for instant boredome busting. I've included two picks for each featured genre; one I've read and highly recommend, and one I can't wait to try myself. Happy devouring!

Nothing beats a good adventure novel to break up winter's monotony, right?

Totally Recommend: The Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer is my go-to adventure novel (reading book 6 right now, and loving it!). They're full of twists, pirates, witty banter, romance; and have a really strong female heroine. What's not to love?

Can't wait to Try: The Agency series by Y.S. Lee. These have been sitting in my Goodreads account for awhile, and maybe this is the winter I finally get to them. Set in Victorian England, they follow young orphan Mary Quinn, who is being taught at a girl's academy that is really just a cover-up for an all-girl investigative unit. Sounds fun!

And what about the kings and queens of winter reading: cozy crime?

Totally Recommend: While Agatha Christie is the queen of cozy crime, might I branch out and suggest a less popular (but awesome) series, instead? The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith follows Precious Romotswe, a 'traditionally built woman of Botswana', as she sets out to found her own detective agency. Each back features several mini mysteries, as well as a more personal plot. They're easy, quick, and funny, a light-hearted but still good read for winter nights.

Can't Wait to Try: The Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter. So, I've watched Inspector Lewis, the spin-off show from the original Inspector Morse, and really liked it. Mum's read these books, and says the mysteries are really good, although Morse leaves a bit wanting in terms of a lovely main character. But, I still can't wait to try out another mystery series. You can't ever have too many, right?

Missing your favorite books, but don't feel like re-reading? Fan-Fiction is the answer!

Totally Recommend:  The Fitwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy by Pamela Aidan. Aidan has basically split Pride and Prejudice into three parts, telling each from Darcy's viewpoint. I thought her depiction of him was believable and genuine, and the she did a good job re-telling the events in P&P. Definitely a fun read. Warning: this book will get you in a total Austen mood.

Can't Wait to Try: The Austen Addicts series by Victoria Connelly. This totally falls into the chick-lit category, but, well, who cares? These books follow modern Austen-obsessed women through their own (and slightly familiar!) romances. Plus the titles are too cute. A Weekend With Mr. Darcy? Beat that!

How about something dark, and moody (like the weather outside!)? Here's my Gothic picks:

Totally Recommend: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the first full-length Victorian novel I ever read, thus putting in a special place in my heart. I've sung it's praises before, and it's still one of my favorite reads for the fall/winter. There's something about the weather matching the mood of the book that makes me happy!

Can't Wait to Try: The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. They just turned this into a PBS special, under the name 'The Making of a Lady', and of course I have to read it before watching it! The book seems very raw and unique, qualities that will definitely make this a book to amp-up your winter reading.

And what would be a reading list without fantasy?

Totally Recommend: I've been re-reading Tolkien's works lately, and obviously recommend each and every one of them. The Two Towers, though, has been on my mind a lot lately. It's easily my favorite of the trilogy (by a small margin, but still), mainly because of all the happenings with Rohan.

Can't Wait to Try: The Inheritence Cycle series by Christopher Paolini. Yes, yes, I know it's practically a sin in the fantasy world to not have read these, but I've never gotten around to it. Eragon, though, is currently sitting on my shelf and I have a hunch I'll be picking it up soon. Dragons are easily one of my favorite aspects of fantasy, so I'm excited. Plus, I've read some about Christopher Paolini, and he seems really cool!

But what about romance? We just had Valentine's Day, after all!

Totally Recommend: I'm actually reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen right now, so of course it makes the top of my romance list! While any Austen is utterly fantastic, Lizzy will always be my favorite heroine.While the romance genre is so large it should be split into sub-genres, in my mind, nothing beats a classic.

Can't Wait to Try: My Mum read Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell last year, and fell in love with it, so of course I need to try it. I was bad, and watched the mini-series, but that only heightened my interest in the book. Written in an Austen meets Bronte style (or at least that's what it feels like to me), the book is darker than Austen's novels, while still offering sweet romance, sympathetic characters, and the charms of a quaint English town.

But what if your reading moods are turning towards non-fiction this winter? Biography:

Totally Recommend: While I am by no means an avid non-fiction reader, Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence made me resolve to pick up these important reads more often. I loved this book because of how honest and thorough the writing was. While we know very little of Jane Austen herself, through letters and family history, Spence paints what appears to be an accurate picture of this remarkable woman. I appreciated that he mused about what we don't know about her, without putting words in her mouth.

Can't Wait to Try: How To Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life by Melissa Hellstern was one of the first books I ever added to my Goodreads list, which means I should probably pick it up soon. 'More philosophy than biography', according to Goodreads, it takes from Interviews and those who knew Audrey to create a look into the one of the most iconic women of Old Hollywood. The book talks about the art of living genuinely, with femininity and kindness, areas we all admire Audrey for.

That's it for my list! Books really are the best remedy for perking up from the winter blues, right? I just have one more question for you: what are you reading?

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  1. If you do get around to reading Inheritance, keep a pad of paper and pen nearby to keep track of all of the fantasy authors and tropes used. :-P I never got past the first book for that reason. But I read TONS of fantasy, I don't know how much of it you've read -- it could be that you'll later read other books and think they ripped off of him! (... also, totally upon reflection, I have no guarantee that the authors I first encountered these tropes with were being original -- they probably weren't).

    But if you don't mind a decently written, if not overly original high fantasy, it wasn't bad. They're an easy read and cute.

    1. Hmm, I hadn't heard that before! Something to think about. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Right now I am reading a biography of Mohammed. Previous to that I read "Ibn Saud" which is a biography about the man who founded Saudi Arabia.
    A book I highly recommend for you to read is "Stuffed" by Patricia Volk - you will love it - it is nonfiction but so funny!
    p.s. - you can borrow it - if you are interested.