Reads for colder months

Posted on January 16, 2020


We're all fans of 'stuff' here at Clearbox. We've got Beyonce fans, yoga fans, celebrity cardboard cutout fans, Guns n Roses fans, dogs called Carrot fans, Butterscotch Angel Delight fans, trash TV fans, German language fans, transatlantic holiday fans, wine fans, Boyzlife fans (obviously) - the list is endless. 

Amy LOVES reading. Honestly, she's like a walking encyclopaedia of literary knowledge. It was her turn to write something for the blog, so she naturally chose books. Here's Amy's recommended reads for the harsh winter months.   

With the colder months well and truly here, and Storm Brendan and his siblings battering at the door, there is nothing I enjoy more than cosying up in front of the fire with a book (what a cliche, I know). 

Books keep me sane on the commute, and as the resident book nerd of Clearbox, I’m always keen to try and convince my colleagues to pick up some new literature. It’s no surprise, then, that when the chance to write a blog arose I wanted to take this first opportunity to suggest some reads for the colder months. 

I’ve intentionally curated a list of books with deep connections to the landscapes and climates of their settings. Whilst we batten down the hatches as the last of the Winter weather passes, it’s good for the soul to re-encounter literature that celebrates the seasons and the incredible longevity of the natural world we live in. 

For that reason, then, here are some options for when you need a touch of quaint English countryside, bone-creeping cold spots, or even escaping this world altogether…

Underland - Robert McFarlane

Robert McFarlane’s Underland is a wonderful read. McFarlane takes readers on an at times surreal journey though some of the world’s most fascinating underground spaces, from the catacombs of Paris all the way up and through the glaciers of northern Greenland. Combining magical depictions of landscape and space with beautifully lyrical language, Underland is both a nature and book lover’s dream. Exploring folklore and myth as he goes, McFarlane unearths many hidden mysteries of the lesser explored caves and cavities of the earth. In my opinion, it’s a book best consumed over long periods whilst cosied up somewhere with views of the countryside or ocean. 

The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Jessie Burton

The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a sassy feminist fairytale retelling of the classic Grimms’ tale. By reclaiming the princesses’ voices it depicts a set of strong, clever, courageous sisters who have each other’s backs and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. Although technically a children’s book, it’s a tale that anyone can appreciate. Burton pairs her story with gorgeous illustrations by Angela Barrettt that bring the tale’s jewel encrusted forests, feather boa adorned animals, and magical underground parties to life. You can easily dip in and out of this one, but I enjoyed reading it over a couple of sittings.

Ghost Wall - Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss is the most chilling read on this list, if that’s what you’re after from your Winter literature. Moss tells the story of Silvie, whose reenactment obsessed historian father takes his family on an ‘experiential archaeology’ field trip with some of his university students to live out the experiences of Iron Age inhabitants of the Northumberland countryside. The narrative takes a dark twist, however, as the reenactments begin to swerve all too closely into real life. Ghost Wall is a short book, but it’s harrowing.

Lanny - Max Porter

It’s no secret that Max Porter is my favourite author. Whilst Grief is the Thing with Feathers is my favourite book of all time, Lanny has made it onto this list instead for its much more optimistic ending. Lanny tells the story of Lanny Greentree, an odd, whimsical little boy living with his mum and dad on the rural outskirts of London. Lanny’s deep connection with the earth attracts the elusive figure of Dead Papa Toothwort - a mythic character from the village’s long-told folklore - and strange things begin to happen in the lives of the boy and those who love him. If you like slightly bizarre reads, steeped in humanity and magical realism, then this is for you. There’s much, much more to it than that, but I’ll let you read it for yourself…

Want to read more in 2020? Why not start here.