Winter Reading

This hasn’t been a year for reading for me; partly a matter of time, but also because I have been struggling for months(!) with a novel I was determined to finish before starting something else. I failed! I’m still reading the novel: “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving, but have also started some short stories by Lydia Davis, along with some other short fiction.

The best book I’ve been reading recently was this:

Casting Shadows


This is a collection of short stories, published by Word Machine Press, from new writers who developed them as part of their MA course in Professional Writing. These stories were immediately singled out for publishing.

Fancy a good chilling read by the warm fireplace this winter? You will feel your spine tingling, shivers on your goosebumps, your hair standing on end! Each of the eight ghost stories will draw you in making you feel as if you are really there. You can’t put this book down in the middle of a story. However, each is just a few pages long, and if time is short you could fit one in over lunch. You’ll be hooked though, and impatient to read the next! I found these writers all succeeded in making their stories very vivid, and very real… I am reminded of Roald Dahl’s “Tales of the Unexpected”, with a twist at the end – at times almost expected but not always.

An extra point – the illustrations are also remarkable.

The reason I chose this book was one of the writers, Danielle Charles. Danielle has a blog called

The Teacup Chronicles

which was the first blog I ever followed, two years ago. Since then I have taken much pleasure in her moving tales and prose, and her delicious natural recipes. There is something magical about the way she writes, and her photographs are also always a delight.

I hope you will drop by her blog, or even better – buy the book!


Another book I’m dipping into at the moment is also a collection of (relatively) short stories and writings, this time by an old favourite: Charles Dickens, and his Christmas stories in

Dickens at Christmas


Of course, “A Christmas Carol” is in there, which I re-read at least partly every December. But you will also find all the Christmas Books as well as many other Christmas themed tales.

I particularly enjoyed the first story “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” from “The Pickwick Papers”. A miserable grave-digger is kidnapped on Christmas Eve and shown the error of his ways, in a similar way to Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. This time it isn’t ghosts that “spirit” the character away, but a group of rather violent goblins…

There are several very short stories, and a few slightly longer. Perfect for selecting some reading for half an hour or a whole afternoon. Another attraction of this book is its binding and cover. If you are going to look at a book again and again, it has to be a hardback, and my Christmas Carol paperback was beginning to look a bit scruffy. This version is well bound and the cover is very seasonal. A classic.

So, what have you been reading recently? Any tips?


28 thoughts on “Winter Reading

  1. I have just read a few of Charles Dickens short stories, including “The Pickwick Papers”. I love these stories that aren’t well known. They are a fun read, and it’s nice to find these treasures by well-known authors!

    • I agree, although I am rather picky when it comes to classics… I think our school syllabus spoiled some authors for me for life! Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Cathy, some years I have trouble finishing anything I start–The Cider House Rules was one of those I didn’t get through. But, this was a good reading year for me. I just recommended Guests on Earth by Lee Smith to my book club. Some others we read this year that I liked were: State of Wonder, Ann Pachett; The Submission, Amy Waldman; The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner. From several years ago (and now made into a movie) everyone in the club enjoyed The Book Thief, Markus Susak. And one last recommendation described to me as quirky, English (ha! ha!): The Old Filth Trilogy by Jane Gardam. Let me know how you like them if you end up reading any of these. Susie

    • Interesting to hear you didn’t get through the Irving book too! And yet I have so enjoyed many of his others. My book shelf still has lots to offer, since I didn’t get much reading done this year, but I will definitely consider those you mention in the future. I have already read The Book Thief and enjoyed it immensely. I then read his “I am the Messenger” which was different, but I liked it! I do value personal recommendations. Thanks Susie, and have a great weekend!

  3. Funny you should mention Dickens. I just started reading ‘Nicholas Nickelby’, and I’m really enjoying it. What Dickens has to say still seems to be very much on point for the hard hearted era we are living in.

    • That’s another I haven’t got round to reading. You’re right – Dickens would not be out of place as a social commentator in our time. Some problems in the world seem to recur through the ages….

  4. Lovely selection of books for this time of year. Very timely for me as I’ve just finished a novel by Esther Freud, one of my current favourite novelists and needed some nudging towards other good books. It’s terrible when you’re in the middle of a great book isn’t it, you race to the end and then feel sad that it’s over. Must revisit Dickens.

    • I know how you feel – if I don’t have a book on the go I get jittery too! I don’t know Esther Freud, but I have a good one lined up for the holidays recommended by my niece: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Thanks for visiting Andrea!

  5. What a wonderful friend and fellow blogger to pass this information on for the long winter nights ahead. We get our first snow storm from today till Sunday maybe 12 inches It tis that season once again.

  6. It’s always good to get some book recommendations – thank you! I seem to be reading nothing but cookbooks at the moment, so I’ll have to make an effort and maybe try one of your suggestions.

    • There’s nothing like a good read, and I feel much calmer if I have a good book to fall back on, but this autumn I’ve also started a knitting project (new for me!) so that has taken up most of my spare time!

  7. I have to confess that I didn’t get on with Cider House Rules, in fact I doubt I finished it at all! I am currently reading some easy fantasy books of the sword and sorcery variety but have a Margaret Atwood lined up for over Christmas. I liek the sound of your short stories.

  8. It’s a challenge to keep up with reading when we spend time with our on-line reading! But readers always find a way, it just takes a little longer. I enjoy hearing what you’re reading, and I have Dickens Christmas Stories on my shelf, but have never read the compilation. I always intend to. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m currently finishing, “The Book Thief” hoping to perhaps finish it this evening. I’ve loved it! I will make a little journey over to Danielle’s blog. She sounds very talented. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. This sounds like a great couple of books. I always read a couple of mysteries at Christmas. Anne Perry always has a small holiday mystery based on one of her characters. This year it was A Christmas Hope. Then I read the Kate Kingsbury Christmas edition of her Pennyfoot Hotel series. This is the last one she is writing called Mulled Murder.

    • A wonderful book to get stuck into on a cold and dark winter’s day Sharon! I enjoyed it very much and would much rather read a book like that and use my own imagination than watch the somewhat gruesome film. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I promised myself no more movie remakes of such a great tale. We just watched the Hobbit and I have no words to describe how a charming, lively and quietly dignified story became so disturbingly unseemly.

          • Good for you Cathy!! Unfortunately, I went again and again and again and again (that clever Mr Peter Jackson!!) ๐Ÿ˜€ and only wised up last week. Better late than never, eh? Some great stories must be kept intact in the sacred places of the mind and imagination. HUGS x

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