One of the best parts about the holiday season is finally having the time to address that growing pile of books accumulating dust on your bookshelf. When the weather starts to turn, there’s nothing like setting up with your fuzziest blanket, warming your hand on a nice cup of hot cocoa and getting lost in a great book. We all know it’s way too cold to go outside anyways.

Bookshelf filled with a variety of books

Here is a curated list of books, new and classic, that you can delve into this winter. They are also all vetted as fantastic last minute gifts!

FICTION

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (Literary Drama). On the coat tails of his New York Times bestseller, The Kite Runner, Hosseini returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about family, friendship, salvation and love, chronicling three decades of Afghan history.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel, Maria Semple (Literary Comedy). This soon-to-be motion-picture is a witty dramedy about a family in crisis after its matriarch disappears.

 The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah (Historical Fiction). This #1 New York Times bestseller and Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year tells an unforgettable story of love and strength in the face of war. It follows a courageous and graceful narrative of two sisters surviving in German-occupied, war-torn France, unveiling a part of history that is seldom seen: the women’s war.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (Literary Fiction). This is a story about two women and two men and their love lives with one another in 1968 Prague. It is considered the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers.

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann (Literary Fiction). This sweeping and radical social novel follows the lives of four seemingly disparate people who get seamlessly woven together by a single event: witnessing the true event of when a mysterious tightrope walker performed his greatest act between the Twin Towers. It is a dazzling portrait into the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

NON-FICTION

The Hot Zone, Richard Peterson: This fast-paced scientific thriller traces the true events surrounding an outbreak of the Ebola virus at a monkey facility in Virginia in the late 1980s. What follows is a terrifying, yet addictive, true account of horror-movie like depictions of Ebola outbreaks and infestations and how the human race struggled to contain the contagion.

Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain: The late Anthony Bourdain shared this deliciously funny anthology of wild-but-true-tales of life in the culinary industry at an early age. Craftily written and unapologetic, the cook-turned-chef-turned-world-traveller didn’t hold back when retelling his escapades of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine.

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, Anthony Ray Hinton. When Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in 1985, he knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed the truth would set him free. But with no money or and no privilege in the Deep South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution and would spend the next three decades on Death Row. This is a true account of finding resilience and hope in the darkest hour.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith. This semi-autobiographical novel written in 1943 explores the life of a young and impoverished girl growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls. Full disclosure; I haven’t read this one personally, but you can bet that it’s on this year’s wish list. In the last two weeks, four separate people have told me that this is a must-read, all-time favourite book. Not to mention, it has retained its spot on the New York Times Bestseller List for more than seven years.

This memoir follows a dysfunctional, yet vibrant, family; a father who is charismatic but who suffers from a crippling drinking habit; a free-spirited mother who evades her responsibility of raising a family; and the Walls children, who learned to take care of themselves in order to survive.

By Bianca Chan, BJ 2017 (Carleton)

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