Happy December, y’all!
It is officially Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas Movie Season, which means that, in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also Wrap Yourself in Five Layers of Blankets and Socks While Reading by a Fire Season. Sometimes that season includes reading a nice long novel, so I thought I would suggest a few to you for your cozy nights in.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Am I suggesting this one because I’m still reading it on my lunch breaks? Absolutely. A summary: there are three couples in this family with a bunch of issues. Anna starts an affair with Vronsky because he’s hot (that’s the only adjective I can remember about him). In July I wrote about the interesting contrasts between the three main women in the book, and I stand by what I said. Most of the characters infuriate me, but their decisions are fascinating.
- Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
This one is next on my to-read list, after I finally finish Anna Karenina. Judging by the movie, Bathsheba Everdene rejects one suitor, a farmer, at the very beginning of the story. Then she comes into wealth while he loses his, and two other men fall in love with her. It’s a romance, but not really a gushy one. I’m looking forward to reading this one because it has deeply flawed characters and a strong female protagonist whose biggest need is maturity (not marriage).
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo It should not surprise anyone who knows me that this is on the list. Les Mis is much more than just a musical where everyone dies. Everyone has a backstory, and everyone has deeper motivations than what a three hour musical or movie can possibly show. I think my favorite section is the chunk about Marius. In the book, we read about all his family issues that push him to join the revolution. It’s hard to explain without completely giving the story away, but the complicated relationship between his father and grandfather kind of ruins him for life. I wrote more about this in a previous post, and I definitely think this is the book to start reading this season.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I read this last Christmas because I was determined to read all the books in Classic Alice, and it is definitely one of my favorite novels now. It was so good that I was inspired to read more Russian literature, which led me to Anna Karenina. Raskolnikov plans the murder of this woman he does not like, and he manages to not get caught. The murder itself isn’t what makes this such a great novel, but the impact that it has on his psyche. He gets away with the murder, but then he starts to imagine that everyone he meets knows what he did. His imagination and assumptions of their thoughts are so vivid that I find it hard to imagine any adaptation of the story.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I made a joke about this on Twitter, and I couldn’t resist including it. If you’re reading under five layers of blankets because you’re freezing cold, it only makes sense that you read a book with a character whose heart has frozen cold. Great Expectations relates the adventures of the orphaned Pip as he grows up and meets rich people. The cold hearted character I’m talking about is Miss Havisham, a bitter old woman who was left at the altar (well, left while she was still getting dressed) and therefore never changed out of her wedding clothes. Now she sits in a dark house in a ratty wedding dress with a moldy wedding cake and teaches her adopted daughter to hate men. Over the course of the novel, cold hearts do become warm again, just like your feet when you’re wearing nice slippers, so we have a happy ending.
And there we are. Five books of varying lengths that you can read under a blanket without actually hiding under a blanket. I haven’t finished Anna Karenina yet, but I assume that all five of these have moderately happy endings, or at least ones that don’t make you want to throw a book across the room. Or into the fire.
Happy December, friends. Enjoy a good book on me.