Summer is in full swing, and it is HOT outside here in Florida (heat index of 105 degrees, anyone?). It’s officially the time of year when the only survivable locations are poolside or inside with the air conditioning on high! One of our favorite ways to beat the heat is to settle in with a good book and an ice-cold drink. I’ve rounded up some favorite chilly, winter-y reads to distract you from the summer heat and keep you cool all season long.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set during WWII in Germany, this novel follows the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl living with a foster family outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. This book, narrated by Death himself – who is surprisingly cheeky – masterfully explores the darkness of the time period, while maintaining hope and joy in the story. It will keep you hooked, and the backdrop of a winter wartime Germany will have you thankful for your warm summer.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
If you haven’t read A Game of Thrones, you’ve likely at least heard of the book thanks to the massively popular HBO series by the same title. This novel is an epic fantasy set in the fictional world of Westeros, where just about everyone wants to sit on the Iron Throne and rule the seven kingdoms. The political intrigue and drama that ensues is widespread and intense with a vast cast of characters many of whom you love, but more whom you love to hate. The plot in this book is thick enough to keep you thoroughly emmersed as you soak in the AC on your couch, and the oft-repeated reminder that “winter is coming,” will remind you that the summer heat will soon pass.
81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska’s Frozen Wilderness by Brian Murphy
Shortly before Christmas in 1943, five Army aviators left Alaska’s Ladd Field on a routine flight to test their hastily retrofitted B-24 Liberator in harsh winter conditions. The mission ended in a crash that claimed all but one—Leon Crane, a city kid from Philadelphia with no wilderness experience. With little more than a parachute for cover and an old Boy Scout knife in his pocket, Crane now found himself alone in subzero temperatures. Crane knew, as did the Ladd Field crews who searched unsuccessfully for the crash site, that his chance of survival dropped swiftly with each passing day. But Crane did find a way to stay alive in the grip of the Yukon winter for nearly twelve weeks and, amazingly, walked out of the ordeal intact. I don’t care how hot it is outside – this book will have you reaching for a blanket.
Lamentation by Joe Clifford
If you’re feeling a dark small-town mystery full of secrets and suspense, this might be the book to cool you down this summer. In a frigid New Hampshire winter, Jay Porter is trying to eke out a living and maintain some semblance of a relationship with his former girlfriend and their two-year-old son. When he receives an urgent call that Chris, his drug-addicted brother, is being questioned by the sheriff about his missing junkie business partner, Jay feels obliged to come to his rescue. After Jay negotiates his brother’s release from the county jail, Chris disappears into the night. As Jay begins to search for him, he is plunged into a cauldron of ugly lies and long-kept secrets that could tear apart his small hometown and threaten the lives of Jay and all those he holds dear.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
In this novel Eowyn Ivey transports a classic Russian fairly tale to the 1920’s Alaskan wilderness. Alaska is a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
If you haven’t read this classic (or if you haven’t read it since childhood), now might be the time to bump it to the top of your reading list! The Pevensie children are sent to the English countryside to escape the Blitz, and stumble upon a wardrobe that connects our world to Narnia, a magical land frozen in an endless winter. Together, with the lion Aslan, the children embark on a journey to dethrone the White Witch. Narnia’s cursed winter will remind you that summer is nice while it lasts.
What are your favorite chilly reads? Let us know in the comments below!