As the days get shorter and colder, there’s no better time to curl up and enjoy a good book. Whether you’re looking for a page-turner to help pass the time on a long flight or an enchanting tale you can share with loved ones, this list has a little something for everyone. Here are our top five books to read over winter break.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
This book tells the fictional tale of Tova Sullivan, a 70-year-old custodian, and her unlikely friendship with Marcellus, a surly, giant Pacific octopus. Set in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, this story is told sometimes from the perspective of its human participants and other times, quite hilariously, by Marcellus himself. This book is a fascinating story about family, community, and aging, told with humor and heart.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
In this touching memoir, Michelle Zauner shares her experiences growing up as the daughter of a white father and Korean mother in a small, Oregon town before moving away and pursuing a music career. When her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Zauner struggles not only with the thought of losing her mother but also with losing the primary link to her Korean heritage. As she prepares to lose her mother, Zauner does her best to heal their relationship and reconnect, often over the Korean dishes they both love. While there are moments of heart-wrenching sadness and loss, Zauner beautifully balances these with the joys of love, connection, and self-discovery.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
While a cookbook may not be what you’d expect to find on a top 5 reading list, Jerusalem is a beautiful book filled with incredible recipes and inspiring stories. The book focuses on both the Jewish and Arab culinary traditions that come together in this divided city. Many of the recipes focus on fresh and simple ingredients, making them a delicious respite during a season of hearty, holiday meals. However, more important than the recipes themselves, is the idea that even in the face of division and conflict, food can bring people together.
A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold
This classic work of conservationist literature was first published in 1949, and though I’ve read it many times, I still enjoy revisiting it as I reflect on the past year and think about the year to come. With the keen eyes of a naturalist, Leopold poetically chronicles one year on his family farm in rural Wisconsin, recounts his experiences traveling the US as a naturalist, and calls for the development of a land ethic in which people value the land and their connections to it.
Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest by Phoebe Wahl
Share this enchanting book with the little ones in your life, and help spread the seeds of Leopold’s land ethic. This book follows Hazel, a tiny forest witch, through four different tales- one for each season. With delightful illustrations and skilled storytelling, each tale evokes a sense of awe and wonder for the natural world.