Winter reading suggestions

Deborah CookLife 33 Comments

Editor’s note: Please welcome back Deborah from Debbish (dot com) who’s been sharing her favourite new releases with Styling You readers each month.

Winter is finally here so it’s the perfect weather to curl up by the fireplace with a glass of red wine, some chocolate, a fluffy blanket and a book.

Although… I live on the Fraser Coast in Queensland so it’s really not that cold. So I’ll just skip the fireplace and blanket. Picture me instead with my bottle glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, bag of Caramello Koalas and a book or three.

In honour of the colder weather I thought I’d mix things up and share with you some of my all-time favourite books and series for your reading pleasure.

Room by Emma Donohue
This is quite possibly my favourite book ever. Donohue does an amazing job with this novel about a young woman who’s been held captive for seven years. The novel unfolds through the eyes and voice of her five year old son, Jack. It’s cleverly written and is as much about life after, as it is about life inside, room.

If you don’t get a chance to read this then make sure you watch the movie as it does the book justice and includes some wonderful performances.

room pic

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Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett
Another contender for my favourite book EVER is this 2011 debut novel by Parrett. I was a latecomer to its brilliance and only recently listened to the audiobook (narrated by David Wenham), which I adored so much I bought a print copy as soon as I’d finished. I also loved Parrett’s 2014 novel, When the Night Comes which also features lyrically beautiful writing and an achingly poignant plot.

But that later release is edged out of my all-time-faves list by Parrett’s earlier work about two young brothers and their distant and abusive abalone fisherman father.

Aussie Parrett’s passion and respect for the ocean is obvious as it’s akin to another character in her books. Spoiler-alert… you will need tissues. Lots of them.

past the shallows pic

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The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna
This is another book beautifully written from a child’s point of view. It’s one I also read some time after its release and… I fell in love. Like Parrett’s work, it was Laguna’s writing that won me over – her words and her phrases gliding effortlessly from the pages. The voice Laguna gives to our narrator Jimmy (aged 6 then 12) is delightful. He’s autistic and amazingly conscious and connected to everything around him. Laguna deals deftly and pragmatically with domestic and family violence in this Miles Franklin Award winning book. The issues are complex and Laguna pulls no punches.

It’s a book that stays with you and is – most definitely – worth a read.

eye of the sheep pic

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The Complete Works of Jane Austen
Six years ago I went to fat camp. It wasn’t actually called that, but that’s what it was. Knowing I had a month away from civilisation, diet coke and carbohydrates I took this tome with me, suspecting it would be heavy going… so I was surprised when I lapped it up.

In all honesty Austen was incredibly long-winded, but she’s also delightfully sardonic. I can’t even imagine how ahead of her time she was. Instead of finding the novels dreary and heavy-going (Wuthering Heights I’m looking at you!), they’re witty and entertaining. So if you’ve been nervous about embarking on Austen, never fear – she’s wordy but not dour.

complete works of jane austen

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JD Robb’s In Death series
If you’ve got a year or two spare, you might want to embark on this futuristic police series as the 43rd ‘In Death’ book is soon to be released… and that doesn’t include a number of short stories and novellas.

Set in 2058 (ish), we follow the exploits of New York Homicide cop, Lieutenant Eve Dallas; her mega-wealthy husband (and former do-er of illegal deeds) Roarke; and a merry band of helpers.

JD Robb is in fact the queen of romantic suspense, Nora Roberts so we’re (mostly) offered a good balance between the two. And although I do groan (and not in a good way!) at some of the sex scenes, it’s a pretty good series. There’s a crime to be solved in each book and the overarching plot arc involving Eve and Roarke keeps me coming back for more.

jd robb post pic

Spenser for Hire by Robert B Parker
Another of my guilty secrets is a series which kicked off in 1973, featuring old school gumshoe, Spenser.

Parker wrote in the vein of Raymond Chandler so you won’t find complex psychopathic serial killers here. Rather, there’s burglaries, the odd murder or two and some infidelity thrown in for good measure.  The thing I love most about this series however, is Spenser and his smug wise-cracking ways. He’s got a strong sense of right and wrong though plays fast and loose with the law.

Parker consistently offered readers fast-paced witty dialogue and remarkably sturdy plots. After Parker’s death in 2010 his Estate decided to continue the series with new authors. And I for one am relieved that Spenser lives on.

spenser pic

And that’s it for me. Sadly my ‘to be read’ pile almost qualifies me for an episode of Hoarders, so I won’t  get to re-read any of these faves for some time.

Do you read more in winter?
Do you have favourite books or series?

debbishDeborah Cook blogs about books, not-dieting and life in general at Debbish. Her life-long love of reading was only surpassed by her addiction to vanilla diet coke (which she has now given up!), baths, chocolate and champagne.

Comments 33

    1. He’s great and there are a gazillion books in the series to start on. It doesn’t matter a huge amount if you don’t start at the beginning. The overall story arc isn’t dominant.

  1. Great recommendations Debbie! I’ve been super curious about the Robb books, they are quite popular here at the store…but there are so many! 🙂

  2. It took me a minute to figure out that it IS winter where you are at. The Room is something I am definitely interested in reading, and watching. Thanks for highlighting that. Great list!

    1. I tried to include a couple of series Ness, for those who wanted to bunker down under the blankets and read. Both the JD Robb and Robert B Parker series have been going for yonks. I discovered them years after they started and (one Xmas holiday) reserved copies at my local library and read one after the other. (Cos they were so old they weren’t hard to get a hold of!)

  3. Great post, as usual, Deb, and I love your witty cross-out (from bottle to glass of wine).

    Your thoughts on ROOM make me want to start reading…I did see the movie and loved it, so why not read the book?

    J. D. Robb is an author I love, although I’ve only read the first three books in the series. Time, and all.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh yes Laurel, Room is great. Donohue does an amazing job writing from Jack’s viewpoint and I LOVED the way he identifies the objects in the rooms – saying goodnight to Lamp, Cupboard etc… It’s done really well in the book and as it’s all from his viewpoint it’s kinda bittersweet that he doesn’t understand what’s happening.

  4. Oh so many books I need to get! I have been rereading many of the classics with my girls at bedtime because the twins have the concentration but are only just learning to read. We are reading the Little House on the Prairie series at the moment and it has been so fun. I.think they are a bit.young for Jane Austen but it would be nice reading those books to them in the future!

    1. I loved Enid Blyton when I was first learning to read… Famous Five, Secret Seven, Wishing Chair etc. Then I moved onto Trixie Beldon – loving a good mystery even then!

    1. The movie’s great Trish. I was surprised by the casting of Brie Larson as I wasn’t a fan of her ditzy daughter character in United States of Tara, but I’m now a huge fan!

  5. Excellent list! I used to watch Spenser for Hire with Robert Ulrich on tv a long time ago. Funny I just thought of that as I read your recommendation for the book series. Now I’m interested in looking for it. Thanks, Deb!

    1. I’m not sure Ulrich fits my idea of Spenser but don’t think I ever saw the series. I liked Tom Selleck in Parker’s Jesse Stone series (translated onto TV) though!

    1. Oh yes Sandra, but it’s definitely worth it. A wonderfully written book. I borrowed it from the library at the time (way before I started blogging about books) and went out and bought it as soon as I’d finished it. (Like Past the Shallows!)

  6. I read Room and found it heart wrenching and could barely contribute in bookclub but I will see the movie on your recommendation. The only other book that did this to me was Something About Kevin, just chilling. Love Favel Parrett and Sophie Laguna, excellent recommendations and yes I read more and e-versions during winter! My faves include Kate Atkinson and re reading Helen Garner, her recent collection of short stories is like a box of yummy chocolates!
    Thanks Cheekie

    1. Perhaps knowing what happens makes the movie more bearable Cheekie. Brie Larson won all of the Best Actress awards and she really deserved it.

      Oh and I felt the same as you in We Need To Talk About Kevin!

  7. I love finding a new writer to follow and I like the sound of the JD Robb series. My favourite genre is crime fiction (although I dabble elsewhere) but as an avid traveller if I get a sense of place as well as the crime then I’m in for the series. I am a huge fan of Ian Rankin’s Rebus books set in Edinburgh and I’ve recently started on Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti books set in Venice.

    1. I’ve read some Rebus novels Johanne but am not a devoted follower. And I tried to get into Leon’s series but struggled to relate. I dream of travelling to Italy at some point so perhaps that’d help! 😉

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