Wondrous winter reads

Sink into a scintillating read this winter.

Story highlights

  • Read "White Truffles in Winter" for a rich tale about 1930s Monte Carlo
  • If you're looking for a good laugh try "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns?)"
  • In her book "Blue Nights" Joan Didion reflects on aging and the loss of her daughter
A novel should be as rich and satisfying as, say, Christmas dinner.
White Truffles in Winter, by N. M. Kelby (W. W. Norton & Company, $25). You'll eat up every word of this spicy historical novel. Kelby conjures 1930s Monte Carlo as the poet Delphine Daffis and the French chef Auguste Escoffier cook up the last year of their marriage -- and of their lives.
Tell me more about one of my favorite authors.
And So It Goes, Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt, $30). Based on hundreds of interviews with Vonnegut, his friends, and his family members, this sweeping biography tracks the author from his birth in Indiana in 1922 to his final years in Manhattan, revealing the events—including, notably, a stint as a prisoner of war in Germany—that shaped his writing.
Inspiring tearjerkers are my weakness.
An Invisible Thread, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski (Howard Books, $25). A type-A sales executive strikes up a lasting friendship with a poverty-stricken 11-year-old panhandler in this absorbing memoir. (You might want to keep a box of tissues handy.)
A good laugh will help me beat the cold-weather blahs.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling (Crown Archetype, $25). Reading this collection of essays feels a bit like gabbing with your best girlfriend. Here, The Office writer and cast member riffs on romantic comedies, karaoke, party etiquette, and more.
Sophisticated literature for a short attention span? Yes!
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, by Don DeLillo (Scribner, $24). In his first collection of short stories (written between 1979 and 2011), the National Book Award winner takes the reader from a tiny airport in the Caribbean to the South Bronx to outer space. DeLillo's inimitable and always riveting voice makes characters—and their inscrutable situations—feel palpable.
I want a book that really makes me think.
Blue Nights, by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf, $25). In this moving follow-up to her acclaimed memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion meditates on aging and the loss of her daughter, achingly recalling moments throughout their life together in vivid detail.