Winter Reading List

If you’re not literally vacationing this winter, you can still enjoy a great literary escape. These six novel selections will carry you away to another time and place.

Published in S/ magazine, Winter 2014.

COMING OF AGE

Set at the turn of the century, An Italian Wife introduces readers to a young woman who is dreading an arranged marriage that will relocate her from Italy to America. The story follows multiple generations, showing the young woman’s daughter as she settles into 1950s suburbia, and her granddaughter as she is caught in the 1970s whirlwind of drugs, sex and rock and roll.

An Italian Wife by Ann Hood (Norton).

OLD MEETS NEW

The latest novel by Sarah Waters begins in the home of the widowed Mrs. Wray and her single daughter Francis, where they eagerly await the arrival of their new lodgers. Set in London during the 1920s, The Paying Guests flawlessly portrays the disillusioned post-World War One era and brilliantly blends romance with psychological suspense.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Random House).

APOCALYPTIC APOLOGUE

California is a haunting post-apocalyptic story that explores human nature and survival. When Los Angeles crumbles into dystopian ruins, lovers Frida and Cal are forced to choose between a life of solitude in the wilderness or joining a nearby settlement of paranoid, mysterious people.

California by Edan Lepucki (Little, Brown and Company).

BON APPÉTIT

Ann Mah recounts her time in the gastronomic paradise that is France as she explores the different regions and the dishes that each area is best (and least) known for. Along the way, we settle with her into the charm of French culture.

Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah (Penguin).

MURDER & MYSTERY

M.L. Longworth takes readers to the remote Mediterranean island of Sordou in the fourth installment of her riveting mystery series. Murder on the Île Sordou tells the story of an eclectic group of tourists whose vacation quickly turns from soothing to sinister when one guest is murdered and a vicious storm cuts off all communication to the mainland.

Murder on the Île Sordou by M.L. Longworth (Penguin).

ARTISTIC WONDERS

Ali Smith’s latest novel is taught with the same tight prose and intriguing plot that she has become known for. In How to Be Both, we see two narratives that transcend time: that of a renaissance artist during the 1460s, and that of a child raised by a 1960s flower child, as they are braided into one compelling tale.

How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton).