I know everyone is always talking about summer reading, but winter is my favorite time to read. Sure, it's lovely to sit on a beach with seagulls soaring overhead and waves crashing nearby, burying your feet in the sand and your nose in a book. But I find it's equally grand -- if not more so -- to battle the winter months (if you live on the East coast or anywhere cold as I do) with literature.
I admit I've always used books as an escape, and what better way to escape freezing rain, wind, snow and frigid temperatures than with a spicy little contemporary novel or a big, thick tome like the appropriately-titled Middlemarch?
Now, I review books for money (granted, very little money), and it's part of the work I do as a freelance writer. But I'm not talking about those books right now. I'm talking about the books we pick out that are pure pleasure, not for homework, review, or study -- the historical novels, the romances, the books you choose just for fun. These, of course, could include "serious" literature if that's what floats your reading boat, or even weighty, scientific nonfiction (a chemist friend of mine is always reading such books -- books I wouldn't even approach with safety goggles).
My favorite book of all time (next to Autobiography of a Yogi) is Pride and Prejudice (perhaps also the favorite book of zillions of others across the globe, judging by all the movie remakes). I'm quite sure I first read that book in the winter months while sipping endless cups of English Breakfast tea (and I'm not even a tea drinker!). I hazily remember snuggling under my covers, reading away happily in a dim, wintry light, totally amazed by the plot and characters, completely smitten with both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, totally immersed in their oh-so-British world. After all, winter is the perfect time for entering another universe, in my opinion, because our surroundings are too cold and bleak to face (unless you are a skier, which I am not). And even if your book of choice takes place upon the boggy, foggy moors, you are still safe and warm in your own little house as you turn the pages.
I have to admit that I also used reading a lot when my kids were young. Of course, I read endlessly to them, but that's not what I mean: I also read endlessly to escape them. I remember many a wintry day when my three lads were young when I wanted nothing more than to flee into the arms of the Count of Monte Cristo or Mr. Rochester, and while my kids watched Sesame Street or played endless games of Candyland, that's exactly what I did. The demands of motherhood are great, after all, and sometimes you just need to get away from it all, without really getting away at all.
So, enjoy these wintry days of reading; hunker down with the latest bestseller or classic. I'm not going to tell you what to read; no doubt, you're a grown-up and can choose for yourself. But if you're unlucky enough (as I am) to live in a frosty climate (or unable to afford a tropical vacation), remember that reading a really good book can be the greatest escape of all.
Since, as they say, "We can't control the weather," my advice for the winter months is to put your hats, mittens, and snow boots away, lock up the car keys, and read to your heart's content.