Warm reads for cold nights




Since last winter was a bust, this is my first “real” winter in Vermont. February dragged on and on and now in the first week of March, it is snowing outside. WILL WINTER EVER END?! I am beginning to think I am living in the “Game of Thrones,” but where is my pet direwolf?

Some people like to read books set in the icy cold tundra in this season while I prefer to escape winter to something warmer. Don’t you just want to read about Mexico, India or even the American South? If you are longing for a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny but have no money or time, look no further than these sunny, warm and delightful get-away books. (Or you could always just get one of those lights that trick your body into thinking that it is sunny.)

‘Dune,’ by Frank Herbert
I am so eager to get away from winter that my first suggestion to get warm is to read this sci-fi classic set on a dusty, hot desert planet. Herbert creates a vast and complex system of ancient space politics and peoples, then sets them at one another’s throats over land, money and drugs. This book is said to be as influential for science fiction as “The Lord of the Rings” was for fantasy. (Ace Trade, $18)

‘Fat Tuesday,’ by Sandra Brown
A tale of murder, mayhem and love set in sleazy, swampy, sweaty New Orleans. Can’t get much farther away from icy winter in Vermont than this mystery featuring an incorruptible ex-cop and a sketchy lawyer who will do anything to get what he wants in this Mardi Gras thriller. (Grand Central, $7.99)

‘Swamplandia!,’ by Karen Russell
A National Book Award nominee follows the saga of the youngest alligator-wrestling Bigtree family members. Set in the Everglades, this book is so moist, hot and alive — you will consider turning on the dehumidifier in your house while you read. Weird and full of unforgettable characters, this one will keep you warm and wondering. (Vintage, $14.95)

‘Outlander,’ by Diana Gabaldon
You might be wondering why this time-traveling book set in 16th-century Scotland is on my list of books to keep you warm. It’s because this absorbing and heartwarming classic is full of such passion that you cannot help but feel a little steamy. (And get ready for the happily-ever-after ending!) Especially recommended for readers who loved “A Discovery of Witches.” (Delta, $17)

‘Prince of Tides,’ by Pat Conroy
Conroy’s book is described as a “thunderstorm of a novel.” Tom Wingo uses his twin’s third suicide attempt to trace back three generations of his destructive and dysfuntional family while having a passionate love affair with her therapist. This book will make you fall in love with the virtue and cruelty of South Carolina’s lowlands. (Dial Press Trade, $16)

‘Animal Dreams,’ by Barbara Kingsolver
Oh man, I never want Kingsolver’s books to end, and this novel is no different. She is a beautiful story crafter, with characters that are complex and relatable. This book is her second — set in Arizona and following Codi who, while trying to avoid life, falls deep into her past. The lush hot springs, dramatic vistas and ancient pueblos will make you wish you were in the Southwest. The cover even makes me thirsty. (Perfection Learning, $24.45)

‘Like Water for Chocolate,’ by Laura Esquivel
An oldie but certainly a goodie, this romantic and heart-wrenching book is set in Mexico at the turn of the 20th century and tells a bizarre tale of the all-female de la Garza family. Food takes on mystical qualities in this book, and Esquivel structures her story into 12 monthly chapters, each centered around a recipe with exotic ingredients that is central to the plot of the chapter: Christmas rolls, wedding cakes, quail in rose petal sauce, turkey sauce, chorizo, matches, ox tail soup and more. The spice alone is sure to keep you warm. (Perfection Learning, $24.45)

If for some reason you really can’t get enough of winter (are you crazy?), here are a couple of icy tales depicting the majesty and relentless nature of wind, snow and icicles.

‘The Voyage of the Narwhal,’ by Andrea Barnett
An award-winning, gripping and almost true story about an icy 1855 Arctic exploration and its accompanying scholar-naturalist, Erasmus Darwin Wells. This one will give you shivers and yearning for the warmth of your woodstove. (W.W. Norton & Company, $14.95)

‘Winter’s Tale,’ by Mark Helprin
A magical masterpiece set in wind-bitten, apocalyptic New York winter. This book is about a thief who falls desperately in love with an unearthly and delicate girl. Richly described and often unbelievable, this book takes you on journey of love and winter in New York. (Mariner Books, $16)

‘Game of Thrones,’by George R.R. Martin
Winter is coming. After long years of summer, the Stark family knows that darkness is on the horizon to the north, but poisonous treachery in the royal family draws them south into a deadly court battle. What will happen as this family is put to the ultimate tests? A high fantasy book where you cannot fall too much in love with the characters lest Martin kill them off. This novel is full of court politics, deadly winter and the testing of family loyalty and honor. (Bantam, $18)

Happy reading, Rutland.

Lyndsey Runyan is the adult services librarian at the Rutland Free Library. Contact her at lyndseyrun@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @jtebbsyoung.