Well, first things first, eh? It’s an absolute honour to be sharing Jessica’s space here. I have such respect for her and am thankful for her presence in my life and for her work. Jessica has a gift for friendship, and she has brought richness, conversation, a challenge to be more intentional, and a lot of laughter to my life.
But when Jessica asked me to share my 10 favourite books here, I floundered. Just ten? Ten books OF ALL TIME? I’m a voracious lifelong reader and so the very notion was laughable. Impossible. It can’t be done – not by me anyway. I have favourite works of literature, favourite theology books, favourite memoirs, favourite poetry books, favourite biographies, favourite children’s literature, favourites for Sunday afternoons, and favourites for Christmas Eve. But just ten favourites that encompasses all the seasons and preferences of my life? Can’t do it, Mrs. Turner.
And since I am unable to perform even the simplest of tasks to specifications, I’ve decided to narrow the field a bit to my ten favourite books for a cozy evening. My apologies.
Of course, we read books to be changed, to know we’re not alone, to be enlightened, to be educated. We read to be challenged, to have our brain stretched in a new direction, to grow up, to walk a mile in some else’s shoes, to learn.
But sometimes, especially on the cold nights of winter, I like to set aside my highest intentions and simply burrow into a good book that feels as cozy and satisfying as a freshly laundered quilt. That variety of reading makes me feel more like a person and reminds what I love first about reading – the beauty of a good story.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. This lesser-known novel of Jane Austen’s is one of my two favourites of hers. Anne is a wonderful character, the story is comic, genius, mellow, simply superb. And the climax, in particular the letter from Captain Wentworth, well. SWOON.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. This was my favourite “fun” read of the past summer. The premise of the book has sparked fascinating conversations among my girlfriends. This is one of those books that is just so fun to read and talk over with your friends afterwards.
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. A collection of essays from the ferociously honest and self-deprecating abbess of Momastery, Glennon’s book actually did make me laugh out loud and cry real tears. She’s brilliant, yes, but she’s wise and wry and heartbreakingly real. An evening with her makes me feel glad to be alive.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Almost the entire catalogue of L.M. Montgomery books should be here, they are my ultimate comfort books. (I spent an entire two days last week re-reading Anne of the Island.) I’ve worn out every paperback from that shelf of honour in our home, but I chose just this one for the list. The characters are an absolute delight to me and it’s just a plain happy-ending pure satisfying read. It’s also quite funny.
The Reading Group: A Novel by Elizabeth Noble. I have a weakness, and her name is British chick-lit. Elizabeth Noble is one of my favourites in that maligned genre, and this is my favourite one. It follows a group of women in a book club (books! more books! English characters talking about books!). It’s funny, more insightful and complicated than you’d guess by the cover.
The Forgotten Garden: A Novel by Kate Morton. I love a good mystery. And this is a good mystery. You might not want to start this one if you want to get anything done for the next day or two.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I love, love, loved this book. So delightful, interesting. I missed the characters when it ended, actually missed them.
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I very nearly chose her previous book, Bittersweet, to put here because it’s still so dear to me, but I’m going to go with Bread & Wine. The chapter she wrote about how afraid women are to admit to their hunger is amazing. I love how she writes so effortlessly about the deep things of life, and this book – filled with accessible recipes – is even better than the gathering at the table for this introvert. I like to read about parties more than I like to attend them.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotee Brontë by Syrie James. Jane Eyre was on my first draft of this post – I’ve worn out three copies of that book. So I devoured this novel, set up as a diary, about the author and the lives of the three writing sisters on the moors. I am a sucker for these kinds of books.
And of course, no winter is complete without the Harry Potter series. I re-read the entire series every year or so. The problem with that is that once I pick up the first one, just as a little treat for one evening, then I don’t get anything done for the next two weeks while I obsessively read all seven books, cover to cover, once again.
What about you? What are your favourite books to read on a cozy winter night?
Sarah Bessey is the author of “Jesus Feminist”, an invitation to the Kingdom of God waiting on the other side of the Church’s gender debates. She is an award-winning blogger at www.sarahbessey.com, an editor at A Deeper Story, a contributor for SheLoves Magazine, and a passionate advocate for global women’s justice issues. One of those happy-clappy Jesus-followers, Sarah is a joyful subversive, a recovering know-it-all, and a voracious reader. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their three tinies.