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Pick Up a Book: Winter Reading Guide

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Ah, winter. I love it. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the mugs of hot coffee spiked with bourbon, or crunching through the snowpack in the forest. Could be those bitter mornings when I’m shoveling snow underneath the inky pre-dawn sky cursing at the plow for blocking my driveway again.

Maybe it’s all of those things.

Or maybe it’s the chance I have to catch up on some reading. Between the lack of sunlight and the urge to stay bundled up, I finally find the time to catch up on the books I’ve been neglecting, or maybe to re-read a few favorites. It’s great keeping a book on-hand to capitalize on all of the freetime found in our day. It could be riding the train, on our lunch breaks, doctor visits and dentists and mechanics. Winter just seems to add more of those opportunities.

I put together a few of my favorites as book suggestions as a winter reading guide. Trust me, they’re worth your time. And of course, most of these are available digitally. I’m a fan of a real book in my hands, but sometimes it’s easier to read off the screen of your phone, tablet, or other device.

Book Suggestions

Song of Achilles

Fluid prose is found on every single page of this book. Written by Madeline Miller, Song of Achilles is a personal and human approach to the legendary story of Achilles and the Battle of Troy. This is an emotional story filled beginning to end with intense action scenes, periods of reflection, and one of the greatest love stories I’ve ever read. A must-read for fans of classical history, and even God of War devotees. You’ll devour this book in a few short days.

Kings of Colorado

Read the book? Then you’ll get the jacks and Sucrets secret.

This is one of my favorite books ever (check out the last one on this list for my other favorite), but it’s not a story for everybody. Kings of Colorado is about a young man in the 1960’s who is sent to a work ranch as punishment for stabbing his father. This is a story for the guys who grew up as bad boys, misunderstood and cast away by the world at large. The writing is gripping and powerful; it’s the only book that has ever made me weep manly tears. If there’s one book you read on this list, this is it.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Remember the movie with Kathy Bates? Great flick, one of my favorites when it comes to storytelling and character. Although I’m still reading it, Fried Green Tomatoes is just as engaging as the film. The book is written in a conversational tone with no effort to cut corners. It’s one of those books that grabs your interest with the first few words and refuses to let go until you pull your eyes off of the pages. This book is reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor and other southern writers, so if that’s your jam this is one to pick up.

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

Well, there’s no way around this one; I am an unashamed and ardent lover of (almost) all-things Star Wars. If you have even an inkling of interest in the Star Wars stories, you’ve got to check out Path of Destruction. It details the rise of Darth Bane, the creator of the Sith Rule of Two. This is no book with cute ewoks and funny droids to lighten the mood. No, it is a dark and serious tale about one man’s utter lack of fucks to give in his rise to power. The story is my favorite Star Wars tale, and best yet it’s the first book in a trilogy all featuring Darth Bane. A must-read for casual and serious fans alike.

IT

Did you guys like the remade movie compared to its 90’s counterpart? If you read the book version of IT then you’d likely agree that each movie got something right and something wrong. This book is my favorite Stephen King tale, but it’s a mountain of pages to read through. The IT book is far more scary than either of the movie versions and offers incomparable insight into the minds of the characters and, perhaps more significantly, into the mind of Pennywise as well. This is not a story for the faint of heart, and there are some highly controversial scenes in this tale. If you’ve got the gut for it, give it a read.

Visit a local used bookstore and buy this classic for a buck.

The Fountainhead

When I was younger I believed that the philosophies of Ayn Rand were genius. Now that I’m older I see enough holes in the logic to make swiss cheese jealous, but that doesn’t take anything away from The Fountainhead. This is another monster of a book; it starts off slowly like a train but likewise builds in strength and speed until it reaches a breathtaking finale. Although anybody could find benefit and beauty in this story, it’s a must-read for any creative types. In a few words it’s about an artist telling the world to get bent, he’s doing it his way.

Cannery Row

Oh, man, Steinbeck is the man. Most people read The Grapes of Wrath in high school, or maybe Of Mice and Men. It’s a damn shame that these are the most-featured stories of Steinbeck when there’s a work of true beauty in every word of Cannery Row. The characters in this one sit proudly on the throne of Greatest Fictional Characters of the Last Thousand Years. The reader will laugh and weep and cheer with them on every page. When I have a bad day I open up Cannery Row and catch up with an old friend. It’s a short book, probably readable in a day or three if you’re quick and have a few solid hours to invest.

 

We can walk into a grocery story line, train station, or waiting room and find every set of eyes glued to a smartphone. We read a lot, nowadays, but maybe we’re spending too much time on the wrong material.

You can download any of these books in a digital format and use that to fill the space on your phone screen. Imagine reading some worthwhile words instead of the latest dumb shit a celebrity spews.

If you’re like me and prefer a real book in hand, you can purchase any of these books new or used through Amazon and any other book retailer.

Open up these pages and give them a shot, I promise you won’t regret it. And at the worst, you can contact me and we’ll debate the quality of a book.

Happy winter reading, folks.

Matt Suwak
About the Author

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in bird watching and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works during the day as a landscaper and gardener, and by night a freelance writer. He can throw a football ten miles from a stationary position and has grappled mountain lions and lived to tell about it. The lions cannot say the same.

His other writing can be found at www.heyplantguy.com

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