December 1, 2022
Interim Director of the Dorset Museum
Winter is always the time I read most. Life is a little slower, and there are fewer opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, another of my favourite pastimes.
I enjoy nothing more than curling up on a sofa with a cup of tea and a good book, especially during the Christmas period, when I usually try to have some time off.
Most of the books here have Dorset connections and include adventure stories, fantasy, spy, thrillers, literary fiction, and memoirs. I hope that you will find some inspiration here for your own reading, or seasonal presents for loved ones.
My Winter reads
Wintering: The Power of rest and retreat in difficult times by Katherine May
A book that has much to say about what winter rituals can teach us about resting and retreating during difficult periods. I devoured this in the winter of 2020 as I Christmas’d at home away from family, and still think of it often.
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The classic 1973 Christmas fantasy novel for children and adults alike. The action starts for protagonist Will Stanton on the winter solstice, and builds up to Christmas Day, as a mystical battle between Light and Dark takes place.
Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
Hardy draws upon memories of his childhood at Lower Bockhampton for this novel, which begins as the Mellstock church choir make the rounds on Christmas Eve. During the evening band member Dick Dewey catches sight of newly arrived school mistress Fancy Day, and a love story is born.
The Chosen by Elizabeth Lowry
This beautifully written and poignant novel imagines the early winter of 1912, as Thomas Hardy’s wife Emma dies. This is one to read at your own pace in the winter months as time moves more slowly. Even if you are not a Hardy fan, the book has much to say about grief, loss and regret.
Brother.do.you.love.me by Manni and Reuben Coe
A new memoir from Dorset publishers Little Toller. Mannie Coe leaves his life in Spain to take his youngest brother Reuben out of a care home and to live with him in an old farm cottage in the countryside in Dorset during the stillness of winter. They begin an extraordinary journey of repair, rediscovering the depths of their brotherhood.
The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner
If you are looking for a weird and wonderful novel to while away the winter months, this might do the trick. Townsend Warner’s remarkable writing is at its best as she tells an English convent during the 14th century over a period of 40 years. Fascinating characters come and go and there is very little plot, but it’s extremely absorbing none-the-less.
The Spy who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre
Poole-born John Le Carre’s classic 1963 cold war spy thriller is the perfect yarn for the winter months.
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