Top Ten Tuesday - That Artsy Reader Girl

Ten Books With Snowy Covers

That Artsy Reader Girl hosts Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly themed blogging meme for book lovers. This week, the theme is a holiday/seasonal freebie, so I’ve chosen to feature ten books—which I either own, have read, or both—that have snow on their covers.

1. Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

  • Hideaway Fall Publishing, 2018
  • Cover designed by Hot Frog Original
  • Art by Paul Morton

This book is snowy from the inside out. It came up on NetGalley as an ebook to read instantly, and I’m so glad I clicked ‘download’. The subject is both ordinary but anticipatory, mysterious and charming. I’ve seen a few reviews lately of M. Jonathan Lee’s new book 331, and I’ll definitely be reading it (plus working on his backlist of titles in the coming months/year). You can read my review of Drift Stumble Fall here.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.

2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

  • Barnes & Noble, Inc. 1995
  • Cover design by Tom McKeveny
  • Cover Painting: John H. Twachtman’s Snow, c. 1895-6, courtesy of Dr. and Mrs. Meyer P. Potamkin Collection

There are a handful of scenes from books that I will likely never forget. The climactic scene in Ethan Frome is one of them. If you are not familiar with this novel, do not let the mention of New England distract you from the “bleak,” “sad,” and “tragic” descriptors.

Though Edith Wharton is best known for her satirical dissections of New York society, one of her finest works is the uncharacteristic Ethan Frome, a story that takes place in the harsh, bleak farmlands of New England.

A poor farmer, Ethan Frome spends his days trying to draw a living from the frozen ground of his land and tending to his dour, sickly wife. When her cousin Mattie comes to help, Ethan eventually finds himself in love with the sweet young woman who shyly tends to her chores about the cold wooden house.

The narrator and reader meet Ethan as a gnarled, taciturn old man, and find him a sad and tragic figure. His story, told in flashback by the narrator, is a compelling one—the inexorable fall of a decent, rough-hewn man, drawn on by his most pure and beautiful feelings: his love for the gentle Mattie.

As in her other novels, Wharton turns her keen eye to the stifling conventions of society, albeit those of a nineteenth-century Massachusetts village. But her sympathy for the individual victims of these social restrictions gives Ethan Frome a heartfelt humanity that can still resonate for the reader today.

3. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

  • Berkley, 2018
  • Jacket design by Colleen Reinhart
  • Jacket photos of Philadelphia and of woman by H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock

The only book on this list that I haven’t read, which doesn’t stop me from sharing it and its lovely wintery cover.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters—Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa—a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without—and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

  • First Scout Press trade paperback edition, 2017
  • Cover design by Alex Merto
  • Cover photograph © Jan Stromme/Getty Images

If you’re tired of me bringing up this book at any point I deem relevant, I’m sorry to say: too bad. This is one of my all time favorites—you can read my positive thoughts about the novel here, and my harsh thoughts about the film adaptation here.

In this smart and intense literary suspense novel, Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, “your dread and unease will mount with every passing page” (Entertainment Weekly) of this edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, I’m Thinking of Ending Things pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.

5. Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas

  • Delacorte Press, 2020 (I have the library bound edition)
  • Jacket art copyright © 2020 by Dan Burgess

This is one of the books I read this year that I purchased after reading it—if you are looking for a middle grade recommendation look no further. It takes on many bleak and tragic life events, but the way Emily Blejwas injects love and support and hope into the story and into the life of our young protagonist has me tearing up all over again just thinking about it all (I listed the content warnings in my review here).

A poignant story of a boy picking up the pieces of his life after the unexpected death of his father, and the loyalty, concern, and friendship he finds in his small-town community.

Justin doesn’t know anything these days. Like how to walk down the halls without getting stared at. Or what to say to Jenni. Or how Phuc is already a physics genius in seventh grade. Or why Benny H. wanders around Wicapi talking to old ghosts. He doesn’t know why his mom suddenly loves church or if his older brother, Murphy, will ever play baseball again. Or if the North Stars have a shot at the playoffs. Justin doesn’t know how people can act like everything’s fine when it’s so obviously not. And most of all, he doesn’t know what really happened the night his dad died on the train tracks. And that sucks.

But life goes on. And as it does, Justin discovers that some things are just unknowable. He learns that time and space and memory are grander and weirder than he ever thought, and that small moments can hold big things, if you’re paying attention. Just like his math teacher said, even when you think you have all the information, there will be more. There is always more.

Set during the Gulf War era, Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened is a story about learning to go on after loss, told with a warmth that could thaw the coldest Minnesota lake.

6. Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

  • Harper Perennial / Originally published by Epicenter Press, 1993
  • Cover design by Jarrod Taylor
  • Cover photograph © Cornforth Images/Alamy

This was a bookstagram-influenced purchase—and more specifically, an Indigathon-influenced purchase (which I read in November). If you’re interested in legends, oral tradition, and/or learning about timeless Athabascan traditions and values, definitely pick up this book.

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine.
Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness “speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness, and wisdom” (Ursula K. Le Guin).

7. Fairy Tales: Hans Christian Andersen

  • Barnes & Noble Books, 2006
  • Cover design by Dutton & Sherman
  • Cover art: The Snow Queen by Thomas Bromley Blacklock © Fine Art Photographic Library/Corbis

This was an I-can’t-control-myself-around-Barnes-and-Noble-Classics-influenced purchase, and I have yet to really crack it open beyond just flipping through its 600+ pages. The artwork that was chosen for the cover is simply darling, and is titled appropriately for a fairy tale collection. Plus, I might have a future plan for reading all of HCA’s fairy tales that is very much like my current Grimm project, and until I can find an old (relatively inexpensive) edition, this one will do just fine.

Who has not laughed at the emperor’s new clothes, or sympathized with the ugly duckling? In the 170 years since they appeared, Hans Christian Andersen’s folk tales have charmed millions of readers. Whether adapted from his native Denmark or based on his own impoverished childhood, Andersen’s vivid, often ironic tales run the full range of literature, from satire to sentimental romance.

Writing in the midst of a Europe-wide rebirth of national literature, Andersen broke new ground in two important ways. First, his written stories matched the magical versions he told out loud to children. Second, he set his tales, despite their fantastical elements, in his own land and time. Unlike other works of his era—most notably the appropriated folklore of the Brothers Grimm—Andersen’s tales are grounded in the real and often focus on the significance of small or overlooked things.

Here are sixty-four tales in a fresh new translation, many—like “The Little Mermaid” and “The Red Shoes”—still popular through modern adaptations, and others, including “The Flying Trunk,” well worth rediscovering. 

8. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Scholastic Inc. / Published with Garth Williams’ illustrations in 1953 by HarperCollins

I haven’t read the Little House books in a long time, but as a kid I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls’ life. I had Little House paper dolls, a recipe book, and a crafting kit, and of course, the complete series from Scholastic. The Long Winter is the sixth book in the series.

Note: The town in which The Long Winter takes place, and the settings for the books that follow are on Yanktonai lands—see the land map and links to resources here, and learn more about the Yankton, Yanktonai, and Assiniboine Sioux here.

Gray clouds to the northwest mean only one thing—

A blizzard is moments away….The first terrible storm comes to the barren prairie in October. Then it snows almost without stopping until April. Snow has reached the rooftops, and no trains can get through with food or coal. The people of De Smet are starving, including the Ingalls family, who wonder how they’re going to make it through this terrible winter. It is young Almanzo Wilder who finally understands what needs to be done. He must save the town, even if it means risking his own life.

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

  • Harper Trophy / Originally published by C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. in 1950
  • Cover art by Cliff Nielsen, copyright © 2002 by C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

One of my favorite bookish arguments to have (and win, of course) is which book comes first: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Magician’s Nephew. Fortunately my boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia has labeled the books correctly: The Magician’s Nephew as #1 and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as #2. Whether you have the correct opinion or not, I think we can agree that this cover is icily beautiful (apart from the Major Motion Picture stamp, obviously).

Narnia…a land frozen in eternal winter…a country waiting to be set free. Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia—a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change…and a great sacrifice. 

10. The Mitten by Jan Brett

  • Putnam Publishing Group, 1989
  • Illustrations by Jan Brett

This is the only book on this list that I don’t own, but I absolutely love it. The Mitten is one of those books I read (and was read to) as a child, and seeing it floods me with nostalgia. Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with The Mitten or Jan Brett, I highly recommend this book and others by her.

When Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, he goes on without realizing that it is missing.
One by one, woodland animals find it and crawl in; first, a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse and what happens next makes for a wonderfully funny climax.
As the story of the animals in the mitten unfolds, the reader can see Nicki in the boarders of each page, walking through the woods unaware of what is going on.
Once again Jan Brett has created a dramatic and beautiful picture book in her distinctive style. She brings the animals to life with warmth and humor, and her illustrations are full of visual delights and details faithful to the Ukrainian tradition from which the story comes.

And that is my list of Ten Books with Snowy Covers – did any catch your eye? Is there a snowy cover that comes to your mind? Share in a comment below, and if you participated in Top Ten Tuesday this week, feel free to link your post below – I would love to check it out!


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