Halloween nears. Winter approaches. In the Northeast we face snow shoveling, icy roads, and bleak grey skies. Our rewards? Sundays curled on the couch with a great book. I could offer lists of classics you can finally settle into, uber-literary masterpieces to read with your dictionary at your side, or I can tell the truth. There’s nothing like a ‘gotta know’ book to get you through a blizzard. (Think Gone Girl … those books you absolutely must finish, cause (as Stephen King says in On Writing) you ‘gotta know’ how it ends.
For me, gotta know can be anything from a memoir on mountain climbing to a novel of a woman battling a town’s humiliation. It’s all about books that stole my sleep:
When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother’s death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of feminine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated—Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.
“…the kind of book you find yourself stealing time from workday chores to read.” USA Today
If you read The Deepest Secret late at night, better drink some coffee. This multi-layered story of a family beset by multiple crises is outstanding—the beauty of Buckley’s writing has us treasure each character, even as we cringe at the choices they make.
“Smart and thrilling…A taut family drama about a mother blindly obsessed with protecting her teen son from the UV light that could kill him.” PEOPLE magazine
In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.
Scott’s characters are dark brush strokes of appetite and deceit.” New York Times
Shelved as YA, it’s is most certainly an incredible read of adults.
A harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina’s great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them.
“This superlative first novel by Ruta Sepetys demonstrates the strength of its unembellished language. A hefty emotional punch.”—The New York Times
Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death.
The next three days were an impossibly grueling ordeal for both men.
“One of the absolute classics of mountaineering…a document of psychological, even philosophical witness of the rarest compulsion” —Sunday Times
Now get yourself a nice wool blanket, some cocoa, and enjoy….