Curl Up With A Fireside Read
An open fire is to winter what sand is to a beach – not absolutely essential, but much better when they’re together. A fireless winter, much like a stony beach, can still be enjoyed, but there is something special about the flickering flames, the welcoming warmth and the crackling logs that gives everything, and everyone who ventures near, a kind of glow (metaphorically and literally).
There is a fascination with fire; something mesmerising about its flames, and when you add a good book and a comfortable chair to curl up in, there is no better place to while away a happy hour or two. Or more if you can get away with it. But what books should you choose to make your snuggly, fire-warmed nest of cushions and cosiness the best place to be? Should it be a classic you’ve always wanted to read (or one that you’ve already read over and over again)? Should it be something totally new and out of your usual genre? Should it be moody and magnificent or funny and fabulous?
Why not take a look at these suggestions, and get your kindling (and maybe even your Kindle) ready…
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge sits in his house without a kind word for anyone; he just wants to be left alone until the ‘humbug’ of Christmas is over. But four ghostly visitors – his former business partner, followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-to-Come – show him the error of his ways, and by the time Christmas Day dawns, Scrooge is a changed person.
Published December 1843
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is one of the world’s greatest tales of unrequited love, captivating readers with its intense passion and drama since its publication in 1847. The powerful, complex bond between Heathcliff and Catherine that unfolds in the wild, romantic landscape of the Yorkshire moors is beautifully presented: “May you not rest, as long as I am living. You said I killed you — haunt me, then.”
Published December 1847
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village – a village before electricity or cars; a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a distant past.
The Murder At The Vicarage by Agatha Christie
This is Agatha Christie’s first ever Miss Marple mystery. “Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,” declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, “Would be doing the world at large a service!” It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity.
Published October 1930
The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London. Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past — locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult. The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in the colonial era of Ceylon.
Published September 2015
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks
In his most extraordinary book, Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. These are case studies of people who have lost their memories and with them, the greater part of their pasts, who are no longer able to recognize people or common objects, whose limbs have become alien, who are afflicted and yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. In Dr Sacks’ splendid and sympathetic telling, each tale is a unique and deeply human study of life struggling against incredible adversity.
Published September 2011
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
This simple and haunting story captures the transience of life and its surrounding emotions. To The Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf’s novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children’s perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class structure in the period spanning the Great War.
Published May 1927
London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
Much of Peter Ackroyd’s work has been concerned with the life and past of London, but here, as a culmination, is his definitive account of the city. For him it is a living organism, with its own laws of growth and change, so London is a biography rather than a history. It differs from other histories, too, in the range and diversity of its contents. Ackroyd portrays London from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the 21st century, noting magnificence in both epochs; but this is not a simple chronological record. There are chapters on the history of silence and the history of light, the history of childhood and the history of suicide, the history of Cockney speech and the history of drink.
Published August 2001
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON’T PANIC. The weekend has only just begun…
Published October 1979
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A plane crashes on an uninhabited island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. The boys’ delicate sense of order fades, and their childish fears are transformed into something deeper and more primitive. Their games take on a horrible significance, and before long the well-behaved party of schoolboys has turned into a tribe of faceless, murderous savages.
Published September 1954