Gina Vaynshteyn
January 27, 2015 9:19 am

This mighty storm #Juno might have gone easy on NYC (it was totally supposed to wallop the city) but much of the Northeast (we are so sorry Boston) is totally snowed in today. To put some numbers to this madness, more than 50 million people were in Juno’s angry path. That’s a big fat yikes.

When we were little, snow storms meant snow days, and snow days meant hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows and cartoons and wearing fuzzy Tweety Bird pajamas all day long, and oh yeah — NO SCHOOL, SUCKERS. But now that we’re adults (or at least nearing adulthood), snow days mean power outages, boredom, stressing about whether or not we have to go to work, and endless conversations about how much the snow and insane cold sucks. And that can get SO old.

So what to do with this snow day? Instead of joining the cold complainers, or using up the last of your phone’s battery power checking Instagram, or re-watching that super old DVD for the sixth time, why not curl up with a really, really good book? Books are the best forms of escapism anyway, and how amazing is it to just snuggle up with a warm blanket and really delve into a new story? (Answer: Really, really amazing.)

Here are 12 books that will totally take your mind off the fact that Storm Juno is the worst and completely suck you into their amazing and different worlds. Stay safe and warm and well-read!

1. Over Easy by Mimi Pond

Over Easy is a memoir that grapples with growing up, and a not-so-smooth sailing young adulthood. Mimi Pond, who attended art school in the ’70s (only to drop out when she was denied financial aid), tells the story of how she got caught up in the wrong crowd, and how she used that experience to better herself and her art. This memoir doesn’t feel like a typical memoir —it so vividly paints (what’s up, puns!) an idyllic but dangerously aloof California, you’ll feel like you’re the one sitting in a diner and experiencing an existential crisis. In the best way possible.

2. Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

As a first-generation daughter to parents from the Soviet Union, I felt this book SO HARD. Not that you need to be brought up by immigrant parents to enjoy Panic in a Suitcase —it’s also about fitting in, the American Dream, and yearning for the past, themes that are universally shared by us all. The setting, which is Brighton Beach in New York, becomes its very own character worthy of much praise. Akhtiorskaya’s debut novel is filled with so much great language and description, you’ll instantly get sucked into this awesome story.

3. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Melancholic, sweet, quiet but booming in all the right places, Jenny Offill’s novel Dept. of Speculation is a weighty but quick read (you’ll seriously finish it in about two hours, tops). Structured in vignettes, the narrator (The Wife) offers little episodes, glimpses into her life, her marriage, her neuroticism, and her very relatable selfishness. You’ll devour this book like melting chocolate.

4. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

I mean, you should always read David Sedaris if life just isn’t going your way, or if you desperately need to laugh. His most recent book of personal essays definitely won’t disappoint. Whether he’s about to buy the skeleton of a murdered pygmy, or describing what it felt like to get a colonoscopy (pretty great, apparently), Sedaris’ narrative skills are on point as usual.

5. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bee’s mom, Bernadette Fox, is not like most of the moms in earthy-crunchy, unbearable organic Seattle. She’s an LA lady through and through, and when she goes missing, it’s up to Bee to find her. Hilarious, and incredibly clever, Maria Semple (who wrote for Arrested Development) depicts relationships and humanity in their rawest, most vulnerable forms.

6. Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Are you ready for some poignant epiphanies and a serious heart-to-heart with a book about the color blue? Okay, awesome. Because Bluets is going to floor your emotions, and it’s going to get super real. Much like Dept. of Speculation, Maggie Nelson also structures her book in vignettes, although they don’t exactly come together to form a story. More like a big picture. Much like if prose poetry and non-fiction had a baby. Bluets, which is about a relationship and obsessions (to put it simply, but this book is far from simple), is definitely a must-read, especially if you’re looking for something that will push you to think.

7. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

If you’ve put off reading Bonfire of the Vanities because of the intimidating page number and maybe because you already watched the movie with Tom Hanks, then use this time to actually go for it. Seriously. Tom Wolfe’s tactful novel about an ’80s New York and its wealthy elite is super relevant today, and reexamines how much power money and status has (and doesn’t). There’s murder, and a mistress, and literary snark, and it’s just stellar.

8. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves is also really intimidating in terms of page number, but now that you have the time, why not dedicate it to this work of a true genius? Once just fragments on the Internet, Danielewski’s House of Leaves is now a literary cult classic about music, drugs, tattoos, and your not-so-standard debauchery.

9. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is honestly one of the most talented story-tellers of the 21st century, and if you haven’t read any of her work, now is the time my friend. A collection of 12 stories, The Thing Around Your Neck explores the identities of Africans and Americans and relationships and family. Beautiful, tragic, and genuinely heartfelt, Adichie will make you feel so much.

10. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Every single Jhumpa Lahiri story is magic, and this collection is no different. Reading Lahiri is like having your grandmother tell you an animated story at bedtime, a story so rich and fluid with detail and human characters that you can’t fall asleep. If you’ve read Lahiri before, then you’ll know that all of her books deal with immigrants or first-generation sons and daughters who struggle balancing their identities. But above all, these stories deal with what it means to love and be loved.

11. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel 

Basically hailed as The Book of 2014, Station Eleven is easily one of my favorite books of all time. It’s about Hollywood, a ravaging flu, and love (and many, many more beautiful/terrible things). Make some room in your heart for this one.

12. Crush by Richard Siken

I’m going to leave you with an iconic collection of poetry, because snow and poetry go together like PB&J. Crush is about love and how it tears us apart. Siken’s words are gorgeous, violent, sexy, aggressive, quiet, succinct, verbose —they are everything. If you’re not “a poetry person,” I almost guarantee you will become one after reading Crush. I became a poetry person after I read Crush. It just yields that kind of power. Read it. Love it. Indulge in it.

Aren’t you glad that it’s too awful outside to be doing anything besides curling up with the best books?

Images via Goodreads, via

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