Hot summer months might inspire you to reach for stories that take place at a beach, while cooler weather might get you thinking about a Victorian mystery. No matter the weather, local libraries around the country make a concerted effort to make a winter afternoon just a little more interesting.
Amy Funderburk, Recreational Reading Librarian at Southeast Regional Library in Wake County, North Carolina, says it is fun and challenging to come up with a winter reading list that will keep readers coming back for more. “I try to come up with twelve to sixteen titles total,” she says, “to give readers plenty to choose from without being overwhelmed.” She also uses NoveList to find titles that match themes and are read-alikes.
Funderburk says she often looks to the weather for inspiration. “In this part of North Carolina, we can have some warmer days with temperatures in the 60s and then there can be a stretch of some very cold days for us with temperatures not getting past the 30s.” To mimic that type of weather pattern, Funderburk has come up with hot and cold titles for her patrons. Funderburk’s “hot titles to warm you up” not only keep you interested but allow your mind to take a little excursion to some mild-weathered places.
She suggests A Sheetcake Named Desire by Jacklyn Brady, which takes place in New Orleans, and Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, a mystery set in Florida. Without consistent annual snowfall in the Raleigh area, she suggests readers vicariously live through a Maine blizzard by reading Bad Little Falls by Paul Doiron and experience a deadly snowman-building contest in Minnesota with Snow Blind by P.J. Tracy.
Funderburk is quick to point out that North Carolina has enough of its own writers to fill a whole winter’s worth of reading. “We are fortunate that North Carolina is home to countless talented and gifted writers.” To sample just a few, Funderburk suggests those who can’t wait for the first crocus to poke through the ground might enjoy Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews, and for a real North Carolina mystery, The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain. She also recommends The Night Train by Clyde Edgerton, which takes readers into small-town North Carolina in the 60s, and Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington, a murder mystery that is perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.
Folks in Minnesota don’t let frigid cold weather and snow get in their way either when it comes to a good read. The library system in Washington County is part of the Metropolitan Library Service Area (MELSA), which encourages people to get out of the house and visit the library. During the winter months, MELSA sponsors a Winter Jackets program. “We got the name from the red and black plaid mugs we gave away the first year; they looked like a winter jacket,” explains Diane Estreen, an Associate Group Manager with a library in the system.
Bookmarks and a Suggested Reading List can be picked up at any branch to get people started, but anything goes. “We ask patrons to write a short book review about their most recent read and we make these reviews available to other patrons. We get their name and contact information to pull those names for prizes,” she explains.
The program, which runs the month of February in 2013, has become quite popular and the library feels it is a great way for readers to share books with others and also to feel they are a part of the library they visit. Estreen says they wrap up a selection of gently used donated books in a bag and tie a bow around them for the prizes. “It is the perfect gift for those who love to read,” she says.
The library also coordinates programming to entice readers out of the cold. “Once we had a tea with an author’s visit,” says Estreen. “One of my co-workers brought in her Limoges china tea cups and we all enjoyed the tea along with the reading.” It can’t get much cozier than that for a winter afternoon. Estreen says her patrons have enjoyed such programs during the long Minnesota winters. “It is just a fun way to spend part of the cold months.”
There are far more books than winter days, no matter what part of the world or climate you read in. A pick from your local library winter reading list might make your journey to spring a little cozier.
Diane Silcox-Jarrett is a freelance writer from North Carolina who enjoys her winter reads with her two cats nearby.