“The whited air”- books about snow

I suspect Emily Brontë was a smidgen overwrought when she described snow as “O transient voyager of heaven! O silent sign of winter skies!” but Yorkshire and consumption can make one edgy, and really I’m sure we’d all agree, snow is rather cool (pun!).

We all hanker for snow in my household  even the pathetic dusting Christchurch receives; a day off school/work and the opportunity to stoically trudge around the back garden in a doomed but gutsy manner à la Robert Scott. Ah yes, a little flurry of the white stuff transforms our city, and it certainly adds instant atmosphere to any book.

And there is a surprising number of books which feature snow, either in the title or content:

  • Miss Smilla’s feeling for snow by Peter Høeg- published to great acclaim in 1992, this is a  fantastically strange literary mystery. With its part Inuit heroine and setting in Copenhagen and Greenland, this is the ultimate in snow-flakey fiction.
  • Snow falling on cedars by David Guterson- another literary mystery, this time set on the Washington State coast in 1954. A  local farmer of Japanese descent is being tried for murder, and while the worst snow for decades falls on the courthouse, the local town is burning with prejudice.
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk- set in Turkey on the Armenian and Georgian border, the central character Ka, a poet, arrives as the snow begins to fall. Ka gets drawn into the local political tension between secularists and Islamists. The conflict between traditional and modern Turkey is controversially explored in this snow titled novel.
  • White Fang/ Call of the wild by Jack London– companion novels and classic tales set in the deep snow of Yukon Territory, Canada and featuring noble animals and feral humans.
  • The snow tourist by Charlie English- we are all familiar with the concept of eccentric, solar toupee clad Brits exploring the hotter parts of  the globe. Instead, Charlie English, associate editor at the Guardian, dons thermals to find ” the world’s purest, deepest snowfall”. He pays visits to Northern Canada, the Alps, Vermont, Syracuse and even Scotland to see the snow and delivers snow-lore and a multitude of snow facts.
  • The people’s act of love by James Meek- Siberia post -1919 revolution and a convict escaping from the northern most gulag is captured by a renegade Austrian army unit. Throw in a beautiful widow, a religious cult and the seriously inhospitable climate et voilà, a Man Booker nomination.
  • Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist- a Scandinavian vampire tale and reviewed on this blog last year. Our perspicacious reviewer Mo-mo noted its ” icy Swedish settings”, adding “if you’re looking for something a little different from your run-of-the-mill fang-tastic potboiler, Let the right one in might be just the thing”.
  • The worst journey in the world: Antartica, 1910-1913 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard- survivor of Robert Falcon Scott’s disastrous expedition to Antarctica, Cherry-Garrard’s first hand account is considered a chilly classic.

A good book, a log fire, jazz and mulled wine

Winter has arrived. After a mild autumn, some of us will be scrambling to cope with the cold. We all have different ways of doing this.

I like the good book, log fire, quiet jazz and mulled wine approach. The good book and jazz are easy, but it’s a pity I don’t have a log fire: the heat pump doesn’t provide quite the same ambience.

The mulled wine will be made from a recipe in a book I discovered recently: Hot Toddies: mulled wine, buttered rum, spiced cider and other soul-warming drinks. Mmmmmm!

One of my friends has just bought 15 pumpkins to store in her garage to help her with her winter survival necessity: pumpkin soup. Looking for soup ideas? Think library.

Another friend has just whisked out her knitting needles to knit a stripe hoodie for … wait for it … her dog! If you are more worried about your dog’s wellbeing than yours, try Knits for dogs and cats.

Then there’s the friend whom I really can’t identify with, who is getting excited about his way of keeping his body warm: running in the SBS Marathon on 6 June.

What’s your winter-warming plan?