Forget the out-of-season produce or tropical holiday snaps, there’s nothing as displacing as the flurry of summer reading lists that emerge in the blogosphere when we’re in the midst of a Southern Hemisphere winter. In summer, I want adventures and escapism, but in winter I want something longer, denser and (probably) more melancholic. I want to return to familiar favourite stories and characters or to get lost in a vividly imagined new world.
Here are my (old and new) picks …
I read Murakami’s Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage a few months ago. I adored it, but was reluctant to review it here because he has such a loyal following and I wasn’t sure I had much to add to the conversation. The story is slow but deeply engrossing. Perfect winter reading … Plus, what’s winter if not a colourless pilgrimage?
David Mitchell is an acquired taste! I have to say, although I loved the Cloud Atlas, I found the movie adaptation much more accessible … (Thanks, Tom Hanks.) His latest work, The Bone Clocks, is a long and fascinating read that will take you through theology, humanity, pure evil and deep love. Tough but beautiful.
Ocean at the End of the Lane was one of my favourite reads last year. So sweetly sinister in a way that only a tale of childhood can be.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s collaboration, the Long Earth series, is simultaneously a study of humanity and a love letter to evolution. The latest installment just happens to come out today …
Anything by Margaret Atwood, but definitely the MaddAddam trilogy for its poignant melancholy and the layering of the story. Similarly, any and all things by Janet Frame. No writer takes me further inside my own head than Frame. I can’t imagine anything better than curling up with An Angel at my Table and a hot cup of tea.
I reread Pride and Prejudice recently. It’s the ultimate affirming, engrossing story to get caught up in over and over again. Equally, watch this if you’re having a really bad day.