What does the word “winter” evoke for you? Snow-covered ground, majestic pines, dripping icicles? The natural world is stunning – and even scary – in winter, so this season, our reading list focuses on books with nature as a theme. Curl up on the couch with your favorite throw and get reading!
'In the Midst of Winter,' by Isabel Allende
Newly released in paperback, Isabel Allende’s latest novel, In the Midst of Winter, begins with a New York snowstorm that forces two unlikely people together: an aging professor and a young undocumented Guatemalan immigrant. In a time when we are all living in online bubbles with like-minded people, its nature that is able to pierce those bubbles, forcing two strangers who never would have crossed paths to meet, and even find common ground and humanity. If you have not read Allende since The House of Spirits was on your summer reading list, this is a great time to revisit the adored Chilean author who President Obama awarded the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s latest novel, The Great Alone, begins with a familiar phenomenon: a soldier returns home after the Vietnam war, and has trouble re-acclimating to society. After moving his wife and daughter to a small cabin in Alaska, the relocation to the wild, natural world seems like a panacea; but soon, reality sets in – reminding us, and the Allbright family, that wherever you go, there you are. It’s a riveting page-turner, but be prepared: this book contains domestic violence, and gets as bleak as the Alaskan winter.
'Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver,' by Mary Oliver
Think of this collection as a Greatest Hits album of one of America’s greatest living poets; Oliver chose these 200 poems herself, from her 50-plus year career. And we chose Oliver’s book because, as the bird on the cover suggests, her poetry is largely inspired by nature. From the spirituality of the sun, lighting “the faces of the tulips,” and, “the nodding morning glories,” (“Why I Wake Early”) to the “miracle,” of hatching, “redbirds’ eggs,” (“This Morning”) to the wisdom of the, “birds who own nothing — the reason they can fly,” (“Storage”), plants and animals are omnipresent themes in Oliver’s work, and often, even, evidence of God. Mary Oliver has already received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize — but now she can add the highest honor of all to her list: Parachute Reading List Recommendation!
'This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America,' by Jeff Nesbit
Did you enjoy reading about all of those plants and animals in Mary Oliver’s poems? Well, then Jeff Nesbit has some bad news for you… This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America is a call to arms that frames the ravages of climate change as not just imminent, but current, and outlines the ways climate change is already impacting us, from disappearing bees and widespread droughts. But it’s not all doom and gloom; Nesbit argues that we can still change the course of history, and outlines how, in the book’s final section: “The Blueprint.”