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Books to Help You Escape a Long Winter

It’s been a long, hard winter and it’s not over yet. Whether you’ve been snowed in up north, iced over down south or in the middle of a drought out west, it feels like it’s been winter for about a year and a half already. And according to a groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA, we won’t be seeing spring any time soon. So what are we frustrated travelers to do?

Winter is always a slow time for me, travel-wise. Sure, there are holiday homecomings and visits around town, but my big trips are usually scheduled for the nicer weather of spring and summer. Winter is a time to hibernate and dream and plan. It’s a time to save my pennies and hunt for deals online and wrap myself in the warmth of fuzzy pajamas and hot cocoa, while dreaming of beaches and sunshine and international jet setting.

But while my passport may be taking a rest in the winter months, that doesn’t mean I’m not traveling. I can escape to exotic locales; I can even time travel. That’s right; my winter adventures are contained within the pages of books.

I love to read; I’ll read anything from YA romance to history texts to murder mysteries. If there’s a good story to get lost in, then sign me up. And when I can’t be traveling myself, the next best thing is to lose myself in an amazing story. Here are some of my favorites from this winter, so far:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes: This tale has two interwoven storylines, one set in a German-occupied village in WWI France and the other set in modern-day London. Besides the amazing settings, the story centers on a lost painting, lost innocence, and love lost and found again. I couldn’t put this one down. But if you prefer stories set only in the present-day (and love a good tear-jerker that will make you think), check out Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: I know this book has been out for a few years, but if you haven’t read it yet, stop what you’re doing and get it. Seriously. It’s like a European Grand Tour, in book form. The story goes from England to France to Turkey to Romania and on and on as we join in a scholarly scavenger hunt through history for the one and only Dracula. The story is full of old ruins and dusty archives, and I found myself getting completely lost in it (in a good way).

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: So, there’s no exotic setting in this book (unless you consider Nebraska to be exotic), but this story affected me more than anything I’ve read in a long time. It’s about Cath, a college freshman trying to figure out where she fits in, in a new town, a new school and without the constant presence of her twin sister. Cath is a writer, and Rowell’s depictions of Cath’s struggles (with her classes, her budding relationships and, ultimately, herself) brought me right back to my first year of college. I cried, I laughed, and I stopped reading for a little while just so the book wouldn’t end.

So there you have it, the books that have gotten me through the polar vortex. I think I’ll have time to finish a few more before spring hits; any recommendations for me?

What books are getting you through the winter?

Tweet me @StephSpitler

Image via Shutterstock

  • Kristina Swallow

    I read ‘me before you’, which was excellent. I’d also recommend ‘gone girl’ because the book is smart and I’m not sure the film will capture all of it. Jodi Picoult’s ‘the storyteller’s was an amazing story combining present day with one of the worst acts of genocide from the past.

    • Fiona Bruise Carton

      I picked ‘Me Before You’ up thinking it would be a quick, light hearted read. God I was so wrong about the latter, I bawled crying!

      Also, Gone Girl was a complete page turner, I couldn’t put it down!

      Both of those books really surprised me, were more wonderful than I expected!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      “Me Before You” was awesome; I sobbed! And I loved “Gone Girl” too. Have you read Gillian Flynn’s other books? They’re just as good as “Gone Girl”! I’ll have to get that Jodi Picoult book; I love her.

  • Susie Wittbrodt

    Just getting into the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth and I love it! The first movie is coming out this year so I wanted to have at least # 1 under my belt before Hollywood tainted my imagination. :)

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I’m heard lots of good things about the Divergent trilogy. I’ll have to check them out (I like to read the book before seeing the movie, too). Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Micah Labishak

    Elizabeth Kostova’s The Swan Thieves is fantastic. I’d also recommend Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch came out toward the end of last year and is worth every single one of its 718 pages. The Secret History, also by Donna Tartt, is dark and dangerously absorbing.

    I just started Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapaldi, which is billed as a kind of bohemian Brideshead Revisited. Next up, a couple of Tammy Wynette biographies. Happy reading!!

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