It’s so sultry that not even your pooch should be outside during these dog days of August. Inside in the air conditioning is where you beat the Oklahoma heat.
That cool air is for your physical comfort. You might also lower your mental thermostat by reading some novels with wintry settings and getting your mind away from the blast furnace outside.
We offer eight icy tomes to help you get through this hot eighth month of the year – a literary way to chillax.
The Blizzard 2015 by Vladimir Sorokin
This work, the latest by one of Russia’s most popular novelists, has zombies, partridge-sized horses, monomania and curious crystalline pyramids underneath the deep snow. Existentialism meets dystopia.
Emma 1815 by Jane Austen
This is the only one of the author’s novels to have a snowfall … in Chapter 15, when characters develop, plot lines thicken and Austen’s wit and satire fully emerge. Close reading shows that even our title character has a touch of hypocrisy, maybe brought on by a recent cold.
Ethan Frome 1911 by Edith Wharton
Just the fictional setting – Starkville – indicates that warm hearts freeze in this novel. An emotionally trapped husband, his passive-aggressive wife and her vivacious younger cousin create an impossible love triangle. It’s no coincidence that it’s warmer outside in the snow than inside Zeena Frome’s kitchen, where her frigid psyche is a staple in all meals. Watch where you sled.
Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus 1823 by Mary Shelley
Astute readers have long understood that Victor Frankenstein, not his creation, is the true monster. What’s often forgotten is the arduous chase to the South Pole. “Chill, dude” isn’t just a catch-phrase at the end.
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1902 by Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlockians around the world argue among themselves about whether this is the best Holmes story. Indisputable is that this is the best-known work in the canon. The cold moors, where the diabolical hound lurks, and an impending doom make you shiver.
The Shining 1977 by Stephen King
The ghost-ridden Overlook Hotel, based on the Stanley Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, needs a winter caretaker. Jack Torrance, a writer with a violent past, and his wife try to fight off homicidal cabin fever … and paranormal possession by the hotel. Plus, their son is telepathic. Good times.
Snow Falling on Cedars 1994 by David Guterson
During a blizzard paralyzing a Puget Sound island, a murder trial reveals long-hidden tensions, especially those involving anti-Japanese sentiments during and after World War II. The bitterness is as icy as the weather.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1963 by John le Carre
This curveball on the list is a Cold War classic, which brought fame to the writer. Le Carre spent years in British intelligence, so the intrigue rings true in this novel. Just about every action, twist and motivation are dark, nihilistic and cold-blooded. Amorality rules.