Books,  Gifts

Cold Weather Reads


It’s dark in the morning and dark over dinner, there are cranberries at the farmer’s market and foggy blue squashes on my neighbor’s steps–it must be autumn on the east coast! It feels like everyone in this little family is reaching for a book these days. Between my own book, and the pile of books Joan carts over to me every morning, I seem to spend most of my day reading–which is ideal!

Here’s what everyone is enjoying right now…

Joan, 3yrs old, friendly Halloween books and cozy stories, best read by the stack: The Soup Bone, Halloween Pie, Treasure Hunt, Each Peach Pear Plum.

Lux, 5yrs old: Lux is going to be Medusa for Halloween, a character she fell for after we read Athena. She is so intrigued by all the Greek Gods right now so I was happy to order other books from this illustrated and historically-accurate Olympians series for her. Please note: these are violent and selfish characters, and though I feel comfortable introducing these themes (I vastly prefer them to the same themes introduced in Marvel comic-types), you may not!

Rachael: I just finished Barbarian Days, a surfing memoir by a New Yorker staff writer. The first part and the last part of the book are the best. In the first part, he is a middle school outcast in Hawaii, who grabs his surfboard first thing in the morning. In the last part, he’s in his forties, fifties, and sixties–a successful writer settled in New York, still chasing waves. I had to skim a lot of the wave-description parts throughout, but I loved his humble storytelling style, his affection for the characters in his life, his wry theories about the surf obsessed. You will never look at a surfer the same way again.

Next: I think I’ll try The Everlasting Meal again. I couldn’t get into last time I tried, but a friend argued that it was best read in cold weather as it’s all about roasting, grocery shopping with economy, and planning ahead. Yes please.

Joe: Joe is finishing Substitute, Nicholson Baker’s somewhat dreary nonfiction chronicle of substitute teaching in a Maine public school.

If you’ve never read Nicholson Baker, his fiction title A Box of Matches is absolutely the best cold-weather read! It’s a love letter to fireplaces and thoughtful dark mornings.

What are you reading?


  • Liz

    I loved The Everlasting Meal. Very inspiring. So glad you’re giving it another shot! Definitely try the rosemary cake recipe. 🙂

  • Veena

    I am about halfway through My Brilliant Friend, the first in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, and am loving it. I’m looking forward to making my way through the rest of the series in the coming months!

  • Kimmie

    I just started Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve heard rave reviews about it and started the audiobook but couldn’t finish before it went back to the library (it’s so long!). I’ve also stopped reading about 3 books in the past week because I couldn’t get into them, so I’m excited to check out what you mentioned. Hopefully I can get out of my slump.

    I also blogged about some of my recently read books. You can check it out right here:

  • Ashley

    My favorite all time or cold weather read is the spirit of food. If you haven’t picked it up, I think you might like it. You’ll have to let me know:) People share vignettes about the intersection of food and their perceived holy. One woman finds solice in the rhythm of a farmers market. One family makes noodles and another grieves and celebrates the loss and refunding of identity.

  • Wren

    My favorite cold weather reads are the Harry Potter books. I have no idea why, but I always, always, always (see what I did there?) get a hankering for them in the colder months. I actually decided to hold off on reading The Cursed Child so I could polish off the series with the “Eighth Book” this year. Have you read it? A friend of mine told me it read like fan-fiction, but I’m still eager to know what the storyline entails. Happy reading, lady! 🙂

  • Jean

    The Atlantic magazine has a thoughtful write up on Substitute that made me think of it from a different perspective, which I appreciated.

  • Taylor

    Read Turn of the Screw for my book club, reading Americanah personally, and am starting Falling Free by Shannan Martin because I think it will really speak to where my life is currently. I always want to read a Harry Potter book in the fall but haven’t been able to yet!

    With my daughter, I set out seasonal books too. Loving “Adventures with Barefoot Creatures” and our Babybug subscription.

    • Rachael

      Wow, I just looked up Shannan Martin’s book! So interesting. I’ve been to Goshen a whole lot too. Thank you for mentioning it, I hadn’t heard anything about it. All, props on sustaining three books at the same time!

  • Meghan

    Thank you for sharing so many great recommendations!

    I liked The Everlasting Meal well enough, but along similar lines, I really loved M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf for encouragement about how to feed a family, both body and soul, on very little, and in troubled and uncertain times.

    Right now we have Color Kittens on heavy bedtime rotation, along with Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (a rhyming, or at least a rhythmic, book seems to appeal to both boys at bedtime). My 4 year old has just discovered Peanuts and can’t get enough, even though he still needs someone to help him read the dialogue. He’s been trying to copy all the drawings and words even though he’s not always quite sure what they say! The 20 month old is obsessed with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which is somehow so perfect for that age, when there’s constant indignation over being little and not getting your way all the time. I’m looking forward to getting the kiddo Christmas books out for the season, I think we might have to start reading them a bit early this year.

    • Rachael

      I’ve been thinking about the Christmas books too. Somehow it’s even more fun to think about them before it gets truly Christmas-y. Like a secret you know is coming. I love that Peanuts idea–so fun! I should have written more clearly that Lux isn’t reading herself! We read them to her. We do color kittens too, such old fashioned cats, they are.

      I haven’t read How to Cook a Wolf for years–and in fact, you just reminded me that Everlasting riffs on that (and that was one reason I found it not-so-creative!). I never read it as a mom-provider. I’ll look at it again.

      Thanks Meghan!

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