Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

A Bookish Guide to Loving Winter

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Yash Kesanakurthy

Staff Writer

Somewhere between starting her schooling in Saudi Arabia and finishing high school in Singapore, Yash Kesanakurthy realized that she disliked school. It was the fateful move to Vancouver, Canada for a BA in Economics (which, surprise, didn't pan out) that led her to the MA program in Children's Literature at UBC. She had fun immersing herself into the academia of children's literature but nothing beat the joy of writing for The Book Wars, being able to set aside classics and pay attention to the culture of contemporary YA. And now, everything is PB/MG/YA and nothing hurts. Well, some things hurt but nothing her bookshelf can't fix. Currently, she is working on her own YA fantasy novel and an all-ages picturebook. Her life goals include: getting a pet dog, getting published, and presenting you dear readers and Rioters with posts that engage and entertain. (Maybe not in that order?) Blog: The Book Wars Twitter: @SeeYashTweet

Or maybe not hating it as much as I do now.

As someone who, until recently, has lived in places where winter (at the most) meant shrugging on a light cardigan, even Vancouver with its “mild” Canadian winter is a hellish experience. So, indulge me as I try to come up with a plan to trick myself into not hating/kind of accepting/someday liking these absurdly short and cold days.

Stage 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside

So stay the hell inside, right? I like to go a step further and dream of summer. Clutch a hot beverage, drape myself in blankets, and read stuff to remind me that a future consisting of long, dazzling sunny days does exist and will eventually come to be. I recommend the following for this Try Not To Hate Winter stage:

  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley: Not only is the title perfect, the character herself is called Sunshine and she derives her magic powers from, that’s right, sunshine.
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Again, the title makes it perfect. A poetic read that will definitely warm you up from the inside out.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Two boys. One who prefers the rain. One who is sunshine incarnate. Every word is magic.

    Stage 2: This Is Not so Bad

    Hopefully, the next stage of my plan involves moving from resentment to begrudging acceptance. The following list of books are aimed at actually getting me out of the house and facing the elements, either in search of a) comfort food, or b) friends who give me hope, or c) all of the above:

    • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley: This should be re-read to remind myself that I, too, love cooking as much as Knisley … and that I don’t have any groceries, so maybe fix that?
    • Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent: There is a whole section about a grilled cheese sandwich. What else do you want?
    • Eating Women, Telling Tales by Bulbul Sharma: A fantastic collection of short stories about food and femininity that are bound to delight, disgust and, yes, distract.
  • Stage 3A: Okay This Is Probably Still Pretty Bad

    Fine. Maybe I can never really get to the stage where I read books like Winter and Wintergirls and think, “Ah, this is the perfect weather for these books” but, dammit, I can try. This stage is all about tough love. I read books that are important and touching and real and … will most definitely make me cry. Obviously the only antidote for that is to leave my warm (but sad) apartment for a cold (but less sad) café in order to meet (and hug) friends:

    • When Everything Feels like the Movies by Raziel Reid: The only way to get over this book is to talk about it. In my experience, blogging about it doesn’t count/help.
    • Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries: A difficult story about a young girl who finds herself without a home at a time where homeless women are disappearing off the streets of Vancouver’s downtown east side. Another one that needs to be talked about and talked about often.
    • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton: I remember when I read Courtney Summers’ brilliant All the Rage. Tiny Pretty Things gives me the same feeling. Who needs a heater when your anger at the world will warm you right up?

    Stage 3B: Just in Case

    If you’re anything like me, I recommend interspersing a list like the one above with some happier stuff (just so you don’t shrivel up from the utter lack of hope); specifically, I suggest these three webcomics:

    • 150 Days: Beautiful art. Warm setting. Fuzzy feelings. Plus, for something that is wordless it is ridiculously eloquent.
    • Rock and Riot: A charming drama set in the 1950s with the cutest characters you’ll ever meet.
    • Always Human: Turns out, having hay fever in a futuristic world is kind of the perfect set up for a meet cute. *swoon*

    So, that’s all I’ve got. If there is a next step, I haven’t found it yet. Does anyone else find themselves counting down to the months to summer? Does anyone else arrange the books they want to re/read by season?