Books to beat the winter blues

Let’s face it: by the beginning of February, the stark beauty of winter is beginning to wear on us, and we’re growing tired of constant coats and fortnight-long colds. It’s important to keep warm and perhaps pick up a book to read you might not have thought to read before. The good news is, spring is right around the corner, and with it, longer days, shorts instead of leggings (…not that I ever wear leggings to school…), and everything outside. But while we’re still stuck in late winter, here are four great classics, one for every week in February, that you’ve definitely heard of and may have already read but that are certainly worth a second perusal; they never fail to put me in a more cheerful mood. So curl up by the fire and settle down with one last cup of hot cocoa.

1. Anything Austen: Seriously, you can’t get more heartwarming than a Jane Austen novel. In the words of an old English teacher of mine: “Read Pride and Prejudice to feel that everything is right with the world.” But Pride and Prejudice is just the tip of the iceberg. My personal favorites are Persuasion and Emma, but I would recommend any of them (except Northanger Abbey, Austen’s Gothic parody, which, despite its satirical merit, isn’t as good as the others).

2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: Before you shake your head and move on to the next book, admit this—the last line of the seventh book (I won’t spoil it, don’t worry) really does make you feel as if “all is well” (okay, I did ruin it, sorry). At first glance just an entertaining story about a boy wizard, the books have a core of timeless themes such as death, loyalty, and love as well as an overarching Christ allegory among other metaphors that make the novels rare works of literary genius.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: While both Brontë and Austen would probably shudder at their mutual inclusion on a list, this staple of Gothic fiction, which follows orphan Jane through young adulthood, is definitely worth a read if you think you would enjoy a mist-shrouded Bildungsroman story that, despite all odds, does end happily.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Set in Alabama in the 1930s, this beautiful book is filled to the brim with never-overwrought heroes and entertaining yet deeply moving children, all of whom will add brightness to your late winter. The basic storyline—Tom Robinson, a black man, is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, and white lawyer Atticus defends him in court—gives but a sketch of what the book is really about: the simultaneity of good and evil in all humans.