But things have gotten a little more reasonable since then. Today, the high is only supposed to reach 70 degrees, which suits me much better. I actually put on two layers this morning.
I don't have a fireplace at the moment, and frankly it would be ridiculous to have one in a place that never drops below 50 degrees . . . but with the change in the weather, I've been sort of day-dreaming about cold weather and the kinds of books that are best read lounging near the hearth.
Now, any good book is suitable to be read at just about any time, but I'd offer that books incline towards the seasonal. I'd suggest that beach vacations are ideal for something fast-paced, light, or consistently and immediately gripping. Reading in front of the fire, by contrast, is particularly great for books that you'd have a hard time getting through at other times. It's a time for plunging deep into a book, savoring it, and even enjoying the languid or desultory qualities that make it harder to fit in during the normal pace of life. I'm thinking that poetry probably fits best here, too.
To start with, here are the books I've reviewed so far that I think might be especially suited for cold-weather, hunker-down sorts of reading. You'll note that I'm not discriminating based on their recommendation score (Except for Wizard's First Rule and Eragon; I just. couldn't. do it.):
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks.
The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien
A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
The Once and Future King, T. H. White
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
You'll note that these are heavily weighted towards epic fantasy novels; there's just something about magic and castles and dragons that fits when you've got a fire blazing in front of you and snow blowing past the windows outside.
Never Let Me Go is hardly a hefty tome, but there's just something about it that evokes something chilly, whether it's the subject matter or the English setting. And while Twilight is not one of my favorite novels, I'd say it also benefits from reasonably descriptive prose regarding the cold, rainy Washington weather.
I almost suggested Red Mars and 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson for the list, since they're such beasts to get through, but ultimately decided that they aren't actually all that suited (in my opinion) for multi-hundred page reading chunks. They're fascinating and intelligent, but I don't think they require the sort of immersive, forget-about-the-world quality that these others have.
I'd also suggest A. S. Byatt's Possession, Milton's Paradise Lost, Beowulf, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, Asimov's Foundation series, Richard Adam's Watership Down or Shardik, and Frank Herbert's Dune. Dune might seem a funny choice, but it certainly takes some effort to get through, and I think there can be something interesting about trying the contrast of a desert world with cold-weather reading.
Do you think there are books best suited for certain seasons? Which ones would you choose to fit the dropping temperature?