Our Reading Lives

Cold Weather Oldies

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When the days get shorter, the nights colder, and when my Vitamin D levels start to drop dangerously low, I know it’s time to break out the cold weather oldies. What are cold weather oldies you ask? These for me are usually books read in my childhood or early adolescence that bring me back to a less complicated time. They’re usually coming of age stories featuring young protagonists who must overcome some sort of internal or external challenge in order to understand their true selves.

With everything going on in the world right now, sometimes I selfishly long to shut everything out and reach for the safe and familiar: a book to give me hope and restore my wonder—a book that doesn’t surprise me and one that allows me to bask in nostalgia. For one reason or another, it’s the cooler weather that brings on my cravings for these old favourites.

As a young child I loved, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I’ll admit to even crawling into the back of the coat closet with my mother’s fur coat on, hoping and wishing I’d find an exit to a land where magic was real and talking animals existed. Back then, good and evil was so black and white—and it seemed inevitable that good would always prevail.

Then there was the Harry Potter phase. I remember one night being so engrossed in Goblet of Fire that I stayed up from dusk till dawn because I couldn’t put it down. As much as I love reading now, it’s been a while since I’ve read with such enthusiasm. I could blame it on not finding that same magic in books today, but it’s probably my age and the fact that I can no longer function past midnight.

I capture the castleBut the book that is my ultimate cold weather comfort read, and the one that I feel like re-reading every year without fail is, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. To me it’s perfect, and if I had to choose just one, probably my all-time favourite book. I remember coming across a used copy at home one day on top of a large pile of weathered books. This was likely this was a thrift store purchase by my dad would sometimes surprise me with books he thought I’d like.

I was immediately drawn to the cover: it featured a powdery green floral pattern. Also on the cover was a quote by J.K. Rowling that read, “This book has one of the most charismatic characters I’ve ever met.” I read it in my late teens when the world was filled with so much possibility. Like the narrator Cassandra Mortmain I loved to read, loved to write, and was just starting to get crazy about the other sex, all the while trying to discover who I wanted to be.

While there’s no way to go back to those days of innocence, re-reading these books allows me to escape back to a time when my only concern was how to stay up reading past my bedtime without getting caught.

What’s your favourite cold weather oldie?