“Winter: Five Windows on the Season”
By Adam Gopnik; Anansi, 256 pages
While I am very glad that I do not live in an area that experiences months of snow and freezing temperatures, I have to admit that our recent string of dry, cold days has been a welcome change from our typically wet December weather. There is something quite lovely about a frost-covered landscape, and driving to work on a cold, frosty morning makes me think of going to school when I was a little girl. Growing up in the Southwest, there weren’t many chances for days off from school due to snow, but on that rare, magical occasion when Mother Nature decided to blanket my desert town with a beautiful snowfall, I wasn’t the only one to thrill at such an uncommon sight.
The beauty and harshness of winter has inspired writers and artists throughout the centuries, and Adam Gopnik has now added his thoughts to the seasonal repertoire. Dividing “Winter: Five Windows on the Season” into five chapters — Romantic Winter, Radical Winter, Recuperative Winter, Recreational Winter and Remembering Winter — the author offers a tribute to the coldest season of the year. He references a variety of poets, painters, composers, explorers and thinkers in this beautifully written book. You’ll discover interesting commentary on winter-related pieces from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s letter to his wife about a winter walking trip. Monet’s snow scenes of the 1870s and 1880s are discussed, as are Christmas stories by Charles Dickens and South Pole expeditions by famed explorers Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen.
With plenty of cold, foggy days ahead of us, this is the perfect time to grab your favorite hot beverage, curl up next to a warm fire and dip into Gopnick’s celebration of Old Man Winter.
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She blogs at youbetterreadnow.blogspot.com.