Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Mary Lawson’s Road Ends (2013)

You might think Struan is an unlikely setting for a novel. A town you can walk through in under ten minutes (even on slippery wintry surfaces).

Knopf Canada, 2013

“Walking from one end of Struan to the other takes less than ten minutes. If you kept walking south and east eventually you would hit [...]

Derek McCormack’s Christmas Days (2005)

When I was a girl, I had the same kind of advent calendar that Derek McCormack describes receiving every year from his mother, the flat ones made of cardstock, with winter scenes decorating them, little images behind each flap as you discovered them. No toys, no candies.

House of Anansi, 2005 Designed and Decorated [...]

The Winter Book

When I was a girl and allowed to choose my own books for a special occasion, I always selected an anthology. If I’d spotted a book like Rotraut Susanne Berner’s The Winter Book, it would have been a shoe in.

First, my choice was practical: they were larger books.

(Well, if someone is buying you [...]

A Man and His Moose: Erlend Loe’s Doppler (2012)

First, it’s small enough to fit in a pocket. The book, not the moose. And there’s something charming about that, right?

House of Anansi, 2012(Trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)

And something seductive about the idea that you can easily sit down with a book and meet its characters and [...]

“Fits” Alice Munro

It’s not something you hear much about anymore: once, people more commonly pitched fits, threw fits, had fits, staged fits.

Hissy fits. Crying fits. (Now rants and tantrums.) A fit of rage. A fit of pique. A fit of temper.

Blustery and ephemeral. Unpredictable and dramatic.

Fits, whether in human nature or in outdoorsy-nature, are at [...]

Monica Dickens: World’s End Series

I borrowed books in this series repeatedly as a girl. I knew exactly which shelves they were on.

If that old library was still operational, I think I could find them in an instant.

What I wasn’t so sure of, was whether I would enjoy the stories as much as an adult.

Monica Dickens’ World’s [...]

Fifth Window on Winter: Remembering

One of Anansi's 5 gorgeous covers: how to choose?

The final window opens with talk of ice wine, the paradox that “the hardest weather makes the nicest wine”.

And then I learn a botanical term, vernalization, which refers to “seeds that can only thrive in spring if they have been through the severity of [...]

Fourth Window in Winter: Recreational

Adam Gopnik’s notes for this lecture/chapter read like this: “Chance to talk at length about ice hockey.”

If the idea doesn’t thrill you, don’t let it put you off the book entirely. The rest of that page and the next is about the Russian troika “racing through the snowy wastes”.

Because it is, as the [...]

Third Window on Winter: Recuperative

Adam Gopnik’s third lecture considers the making of the modern Christmas, winter’s holiday.

He describes it as a “profoundly compound festival” and discusses its origins.

It marries “not just many different pagan holidays but also the two chief kinds of festivals that exist in the world: the reversal festival and the renewal festival”.

There’s talk [...]

Second Window on Winter: Radical

Just one of the five beautiful covers Anansi has produced for this year's Massey Lectures

Adam Gopnik begins his second lecture on winter (first, here) by asking whether we remember that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein plays out in the northern, Arctic reaches.

I didn’t remember that: did you?

Nonetheless, I don’t have any trouble conjuring [...]