10 Books to Warm You Up This Winter

When it's too cold to go out, snuggle up inside with a red-hot read.

curl up with a good book

The crisp autumn air and frosty mornings are warning us of the long winter that lies ahead. As much as we might like to hibernate the way some animals do, a better way to endure the cold is to snuggle up next to a roaring fire with a good book and some tea, wine or whatever else warms our cockles. Here, 10 amazing reads to help get you through the chilly months.

1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Reminiscent of Gone Girl but written with a decidedly more poetic hand, this jigsaw puzzle of a story forces you think beyond the stereotypes we associate with the institution of marriage. The main characters are Lotto and Mathilde, a husband and wife who meet in college, endure lean times as Lotto fails at his acting career, then rocket to fame and fortune when he becomes a successful playwright. The first section of the book is told by Lotto, while Mathilde covers the second part to fill in any gaps and completely change the reader’s perspective of what seemingly occurred in the first half. The question is, which character believes in fate and who cannot contain his or her fury?

2. The Coincidence Of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. If you are looking for a romantic read, then dive into this delectable book about a girl, Lou, who struggles with her personal and professional life as a chef and owner of a French restaurant in Milwaukee, WI. On one of her most challenging days, a British food critic dines at her establishment and writes a scathing review leaving her wondering when her bistro will close and offering him a chance at becoming more well known. One things leads to another in this story and an unexpected romance develops. Only time will tell if their relationship will remain strong when they both discover the truth about each other.

3. Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. This true story, which is currently being translated into a film starring Chloe Grace Moretz, will leave you with chills and have you questioning your own brain and the way it works. The author had a dream job writing for the New York Post when she was suddenly overcome by a mental illness that sends her life spiraling out of control—and has doctors scratching their heads. The book covers the very long month during which Susannah suffered this terrifying ordeal. Our advice: Read the book before you see the movie.

4. The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens. Wolf is a teen that plans to kill himself in the mountains, but when he meets three women—a widower, a triathlete and a rebellious teen—his plans change as he tries to help them through the dangerous terrain and make it back down alive. The characters must dig deep for mental strength and physical endurance as the days pass and the conditions worsen. This story, told as a flashback to Wolf’s son, has a surprise ending.

5. Slade House by David Mitchell. Set in a British town, this story is about a house that holds a deep secret that would alarm the locals if they were aware of it. Every nine years, the residents (a brother and sister) extend an invitation to a person who is lonely, depressed or withdrawn from society. At first, their guest doesn’t want to leave, but by the time they discover what really goes on in this house, it’s too late. This story, which spans 30 years, offers a fresh twist on the haunted house horror story.

6. The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. This book became so popular in Estonia that it was turned it into a board game. Now, translated into English, the novel sweeps us into a story about a boy named Leemet who lives in a primitive village and is the last to speak the native language, Snakish, which allows him to control woodland creatures. A fantasy fable that has bears, frogs and a louse, this tale will take you to a place you could never imagine on your own. The author also describes a 13th-century Estonia so well that readers will want to visit this country for themselves.

7. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. From the author of The Devil In The White City, Erik Larson’s new historical nonfiction concerns itself with the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania, which in 1915 was hit by a German torpedo between England and Ireland, resulting in the death of 1,198 passengers and crew. Larson has a knack for intertwining characters and telling a story from different perspectives, and his latest endeavor is a suspenseful and engaging read. Readers will particularly enjoy discovering little-known details of the incident that are both riveting and revealing.

8. The Heart You Carry Home by Jennifer Miller. Becca’s father, King, is a Vietnam vet who has struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), leaving her and her mother to live without his presence most of the time. Now, Becca is engaged to a soldier just returning from his second tour, and her mother tries to prevent her from making the same mistake she did. When her fiancé turns violent, Becca runs to her father for advice. Although some parts of the story seem far-fetched, the book takes you on an unexpected journey into the minds of those suffering from PTSD and sheds light on a topic that is rarely addressed.

9. All The Houses by Karen Olsson. Helen Atherton is living in L.A. and not having much success as a screenplay writer. After her father suffers a heart attack, she returns to Washington, D.C., to take care of him. While she is home, she uncovers things about her father’s past in politics, specifically how he was involved in the Iran-Contra Affair—and how that entanglement led to her parents’ divorce. This book is a great examination of the relationship between father and daughter, as well as internal family issues among siblings.

10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This is the story of two sisters living in France during WWII. Vianne, the eldest, watches as her husband leaves to fight at the Front. She must take care of their son and make some unimaginable choices as enemies invade their town and her home. The younger sister, Isabelle, falls in love with a man who wants to fight the Germans within France. After he betrays her, Isabelle joins the rebellion and learns the consequences and realities of war.

Gone Girl Is a Dark Look At Marriage

When it comes to relationships, how many of us are pretenders?

Gone Girl marriage
Insecure Nick likes the way the world sees him when he's married to Amy.

Warning: This article contains spoilers. Lots of them.

Tell me. Would you stay with a lying, cheating husband? Would you live with a man who uproots you from the big city to a small Midwestern town, uses your inheritance to fund his business, then considers trading you in for a younger, sexier woman? Would you manipulate a pregnancy with this guy, then pretend to the world that the two of you have the perfect life, the perfect romance, the perfect relationship?

You would if you were Amy Dunne, the twisted wife who goes missing in the new David Fincher movie Gone Girl, based on the bestseller by Gillian Flynn. But wait, you wouldn’t let him off the hook so easy. Not right away. First, you’d plan an elaborate revenge that involves faking your own death and turning your husband into the most hated man in America. But in the end, because you are so twisted, you’d have a change of heart and find a way to keep him by your side, on your terms, for better or worse. //READ MORE

Happy 75th Birthday, Madeline!

She may be tiny, but this storybook heroine has clearly got staying power.

Madeline turns 75

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…”

So begins the 1939 children’s book Madeline. Set in picturesque Paris, Ludwig Bemelman’s classic tells the story of a brave little orphan who takes a trip to the hospital to have her appendix removed. The book’s whimsical art, cheerful humor and rhythmic text have made it a favorite among schoolchildren—and Francophiles—for generations.

While tomorrow is the official 75th birthday of the book’s publication, the New York Historical Society in Manhattan will be celebrating Madeline’s dodranscentennial with an exhibit that runs through Oct. 13. The show features nearly 100 related works, including drawings from all six Madeline books, Bemelmans’ sketches of the old Ritz Hotel in New York and murals from a rediscovered Paris bistro.  

With her flaming red hair, little blue dress and yellow hat, our storybook heroine is perhaps most loved for her feisty spirit, so it’s no surprise that chutzpah-admiring New Yorkers have decided to honor her in this grand way. Can’t make it to New York but want to get in on the celebration? Dust off your old copy of Madeline and read it to your kids (or yourself) while indulging in some hot cocoa and croissants—a snack that Madeline would have gladly sunk her teeth into.

Live a Passionate Life, Dorothy Parker Style

10 quotes from the irreverent, sassy literary heartbreak kid.

Dorothy Parker

She was a poet, short story writer and satirist. She was the original party girl and relationship cynic, and one of Hollywood’s blacklisted. And her round table at the Algonquin made Sir Arthur’s look like it belonged in a romper room. In honor of her birthday, 10 famous quotes from the irreplaceable Dorothy Parker.

1. “If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.”

2. “Living well is the best revenge.”

3. “I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”

4. “It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes.” //READ MORE

Return to the Garden of Good and Evil

Revisiting Savannah, two decades after the book that uncovered its quirkiness.

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah
Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah was the "garden of good and evil" depicted in the book and film. Photo by STEVEN JO

It’s been two decades since John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put Savannah, Georgia, in the spotlight. Unveiling a host of quirky characters in the telling of an infamous murder trial, the book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and became the longest standing New York Times best seller in history. By the time it was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood in 1997, everybody who’d read it wanted to visit Savannah—and see for themselves all the eccentric personalities and mysterious places depicted on its pages.

During a recent visit to this historic coastal town, I noticed that what made Savannah famous before Midnight‘s publication—the stately antebellum homes, the abundant squares, the artists and jazz musicians that breathe life into the downtown area—was still intact. But what about the darker and more enigmatic aspects of Savannah that drew folks into Berendt’s story and gave the city a more lurid allure? And what about the real-life characters and colorful sites that fans attempted to track down through the years? //READ MORE

A Coffee Table Book For the Shoe Fetishist

A lush new tome traces the rich history of our favorite fashion accessory.

The Shoe Book by Nancy MacDonnell

Can’t cram enough footwear into your closet? Then you’ll salivate flipping through Nancy MacDonnell’s new shoe lover’s bible, The Shoe Book. The 380-page tome chronicles the compelling history of this functional yet aspirational accessory, tracing its origins from ancient Armenian sandals to Dorothy’s ruby slippers and beyond, and exploring the technologies and design techniques that go behind a truly remarkable pair of shoes. The book is also filled with interviews with influential shoemakers such as Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik, marvelous quotes from fashion icons like Marilyn Monroe and Sara Jessica Parker and, of course, pages and pages of gorgeous shoes, in the form of both colorful photos and original designer sketches. //READ MORE