Local Lifestyle

Curl up with a good book this winter

by Kate Evans

If you’re looking for a relaxing pastime this winter, reading a good book on a snowy, chilly day in a cozy arm chair can fit the bill.

Here’s a collection of books to check out that  includes new releases, classics, biographies and adult and children’s books that might get everyone through the blustery weeks ahead.

Ella Fitzgerald

Historian Judith Tick paints a compelling portrait of the legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald in her biography “Ella Fitzgerald: Becoming the Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song”.  Fitzgerald’s incredible voice and her musical spontaneity and improvisation dazzled audiences around the world for decades.

Tick explores Fitzgerald’s troubled childhood, her first performances, the big band/jazz world in which Ella performed, her prowess as a female bandleader and her pioneering vocal jazz and scat singing.

The Bee Gees

Bob Stanley’s “The Bee Gees: Children of the World” tells the story of the famous talented child-star brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibbs, their musical parents, their top hits and their climb to the top.

The family moved to Australia when the brothers were very young.   Eventually the family moved back home to the United Kingdom and the boys had a half-hour television show. Their musical careers and hits build from there.

“The Sorcerer’s Stone”

“Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone” is J.K. Rowling’s first book in her Harry Potter series.

The orphaned infant wizard Harry Potter grows up at his muggle aunt’s and uncle’s home. As he turns 11 Harry is invited to attend the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and he learns how his parents really died at the hands of the evil wizard Voldemort.

Harry meets Ron and Hermione at Hogwarts and they discover a three-headed dog Fluffy guarding the philosopher’s/sorcerer’s stone, which can create an immortality elixir.  The trio believes that someone is trying to steal the stone, but it’s not who they expect.

“To Kill A Mockingbird”

Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a gripping tale of life in the South through the eyes of young Jean Louise Finch (Scout) as her father Atticus, a middle-aged local lawyer, defends Tom Robinson, a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Scout, her brother Jem and their  friend Dill up fast that summer.  They try to draw out their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley and also attend Robinson’s trial.  Atticus stand guard at the jail protecting Robinson from a lynch mob.  Jem and Scout  are attacked on their way home from a Halloween pageant at school and are saved by an unlikely stranger.  The book is a timeless gem.

Agatha Christie

The masterful Agatha Christie triumphed in her novel “Murder On the Orient Express-Hercule Poirot”  as she features Poirot investigating a murder onboard the luxury train as he returns to London from the Middle East.

The train becomes marooned in a huge snowdrift in Yugoslavia and an American businessman Samuel Ratchett is found murdered in one of the compartments. Ratchett had tried to hire Poirot to protect him from death threats he’d received, but Poirot refused, saying he didn’t like his face.

It becomes apparent that Ratchett was not who he said he was.  The other passengers have  red flags in their pasts and Poirot continues to dig deeper while the train remains stuck in the snow with a murderer onboard.

“Watership Down”

Richard Adams novel “Watership Down” is about a small group of rabbits with their own culture and language that escapes the destruction of their warren.  It follows their adventures and trials finding a new home.

Fiver, a seer rabbit, has a vision about the warren’s pending destruction.  He and his brother Hazel can’t convince their Chief Rabbit that they need to leave.  The brothers convince a small number of buck rabbits to leave with them.  They survive encounters with wild animals and menacing rabbits from other factions as they try to find safety and a permanent home.

“The Snow Child”

“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Iney tells the tale of a childless older couple homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness that had wanted a child of their own.  Jack and Mabel even create a girl out of the snow and give it a scarf and mittens, but the scarf and mittens disappear and their “snow girl” is found in a heap.

The couple see a child’s footprints in the snow and even see quick sightings of her in the woods.  In time they learn that she’s a real child living alone in the woods after her father died.  Whether she turns to Mabel and Jack or keeps living in the snow remains to be seen.  The book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in fiction.

Children’s books

In “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen, a little girl and her dad go owling on a winter’s night. The woods are dark and still and so quiet.  Her dad calls to the owl with no reply.  Sometimes an owl responds and sometimes not, but they always hope to hear one on their nighttime walks.  The book is a great read-aloud and bedtime story.  John Schoenherr is the  illustrator.
“The Snowman” is a 1978 wordless children’s picture book written  by British author Raymond Briggs that he illustrated with colored pencils.

A young boy builds a snowman that comes to life at midnight.  The two play together with toys, home equipment and other items while trying not to wake the boy’s parents. They make a meal and eat and then go outside and fly over the fields and watch the sunrise.  The book has won numerous awards and was made into an animated TV film in 1982.

No matter what your reading preference, settle in with a new book or old favorite as you wait for spring.