Of stories lost, of men and women fighting the odds, of heroes and villains making winters more endurable. This holiday, all I want to do is bask in the musings of authors old and new, sharing with us great works that can only be felt when read on a cold winter day, snuggled up on a corner of a warm house. For book lovers, here are five great books recommended for a holiday read; and though you may have read them all at one point, it surely is a pleasure to pick them once again because the stories don’t seem to fade away, no matter how often you read them.
1). The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
An eerie coldness, a heart-throbbing sensation and a mysterious woman in white… seems like the perfect book for a sleepless winter night. Hailed as one of the first and most influential mystery books of the Victorian era, ‘Woman in White,’ is a combination of Gothic horror and psychological realism that one rarely gets to read elsewhere. Published in 1859, Collin’s novel still holds the same powerful impact that can shake modern readers to the core. It made a sensation out of the author and that was rightly so.
The plot revolves around Walter Hartright, a young drawing-master, who meets a mysterious, distressed woman dressed in white, on a lonely street in Hampstead. From there, the story moves on to various segments where the mystery of the woman unfolds and Walter is embroiled in complexities of love. Who is the woman and how does she changes Walter’s life? Read to discover!
2). The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
A dark night, a desolate opera….a voice singing as sweet as a nightingale, a phantom living in the gruesome depths of the underground; masked and hidden from the world, falls in love with the angelic sound, ventures into the realm of unsettling emotions, into the tragedy of love. What is this phantom? Who is this angelic voice and what will become of her? Perhaps one of the most spine-chilling, intense and arguably the best musical thrillers of all time, ‘Phantom of the Opera’, is one book you can read a thousand winters and still never bore of. The dialogues are powerful enough to move you to tears. Think Wuthering Heights was tragic? You still have to experience the cruelty, pain and anguish in Phantom of the Opera.
3). Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
A bittersweet, complicated novel of human relations, morality, love and the extraordinary life of ordinary people. Be warned though, this is that one book that could actually leave you feeling miserable over the holidays. If you’re prone to sensitivity, you can skip it. But, for me, this seems to be the kind of book that would keep me engrossed and take me away to the dark nights of France. It’s a nostalgic journey, that seems best enjoyed only during winters.
But nostalgic experiences apart, the book can be thoroughly enjoyed if you have a generally good understanding of the French political history and society during the late 1700s and early 1800s when the French revolution took place. The book was released in 1815, just two decades shy of the French revolution and so the political stigma and social problems remain fresh. However, the story is NOT about the French revolution as many people misunderstand it to be so. Therefore, read it with a pinch of salt.
4). The Best of Wodehouse by P.G Wodehouse
Alright! No more tragic stories, I seem to have ruined your winter enough. So let’s move towards some humor. Ofcourse, when it comes to classic humor, nothing beats the witty characters, the hilarious confrontations of P.G Wodehouse’s most amusing short stories.
Since all his books are amazing, it’s hard to pen down any one, but fret not! You can get all of his best works in a single compilation named, ‘The Best of Wodehouse.’ His best characters including both antagonists and protagonists like Augustus “Gussie” Fink-Nottle and D’Arcy “Stilton” Cheesewright with the formidable Aunt Agatha, leave you in fits of laughter and turn your holidays into an escapism you wouldn’t want to return from. So go ahead and get a few laughs after some serious readings.
5). The Complete Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde
Hey, how could you ever go through a winter reading list without including some fairy tales, afterall, it’s this time of the year that we tend to believe most in fairies, miracles, kind spirits and so on. So for those of you who want to totally escape realism and wander in the land of the unknown, try out Oscar Wilde’s Complete Fairy Tales. Happy stories, with happy endings unlike Grimm Brother’s grim fairy tales (it’s highly recommended too).
This did come as a surprise to me when I first encountered the book. I never knew Wilde authored fairy tales too and though they are not his finest, they still serve as good stories to perk your imagination. The best part is, those who have kids can easily turn this into a bed-time reading activity.