Snow Stories: Books to Read when You’re Trapped inside



Judging from the conversation with our customers at the coffee shop this morning, Alabamians crossed the line from snowed in to stir crazy sometime in the last day or so. What to do when you’ve exhausted the kid-friendly Netflix and need a break from family time? The answer, of course, is books.

One of our customers this morning told me he used the time to plow through three Thomas Cahill books he’d been putting off, which is impressive, but I’d personally rather use a snow day as an excuse to read something fun than something that feels like a chore — bonus points if it starts a good conversation with your family or neighbors, or if it’s a book that can be passed around to others once you’re finished. Here are a few of my favorite books to be snowed in with:

The Sisters Brothers

PSsisbroThe story follows to brothers, whose last name is Sisters, who ride around the old West as hired assassins. Read it because it’s funny and engaging, and because the chapters are short and interesting, so it’s easy to pick up again when you have to put it down every ten minutes to tend to some kind of family emergency.


From The Sisters Brothers:

“… I am happy to welcome you to a town peopled in morons exclusively. Furthermore, I hope that your transformation to moron is not an unpleasant experience.”



DivergentThis uber-popular young adult novel tells the story of a girl who breaks the mold of a regimented and controlling governmental system. Read it because (like many YA books) it’s crazy addictive and fun to read, but it’s also smart and much more conflicting than some of the simplistic teen books out there. Or read it because it’s about to be turned into a movie, and you need to find something to relate to that teenager you’ve been cooped up with for 48 hours.


From Divergent:

“Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.”


Candy Freak

candyfreak_coverPart memoir, part non-fiction exploration of American candymaking (in a fun way, not a “you’re about to get diabetes” way). Read it because I know from experience that it’s a great book to read while being stuck with family, and because it’s filled with anecdotes great for sharing when dinner table conversation runs thin.


From Candy Freak:

“I suppose I was aware, in an abstract way, that there were men and women upon this earth who served in this capacity, as chocolate engineers. In the same way that I was aware that there are job titles out there such as bacon taster and sex surrogate, which is to say, job titles that made me want to weep over my own appointed lot in life.”


Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The+Guernsey+Literary+and+Potato+Peel+Pie+Society_+A+NovelThe story of a community brought together by books and stories while standing up against Nazis during World War II. Read it because it’s the story of people rallying together during hard times, because it’s a WWII story most people haven’t heard before, and because this book is wonderful and I can’t get any customers to buy it because it has a bad title and a boring cover.


From Guernsey Literary:

“What is the matter with me? Am I too particular? I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”


One Last Thing before I Go


One+Last+Thing+Before+I+GoSilver is a rock star for just long enough to ruin his life, but not long enough to get any lasting benefits (money, fame) from it. When he gets sick, he decides to give up on life rather than keep disappointing his family. Read it because we all know that charming, loveable black sheep that we forgive almost anything no matter how destructive they get. In fact, we might be stuck in a house with him right now. (We all know that guy, right? Or is it just me?)


From One Last Thing before I Go:

“The thing about living alone is that it gives you a lot of time to think. You don’t necessarily reach any conclusions, because wisdom is largely a function of intelligence and self-awareness, not time on your hands. But you do become very good at thinking yourself into endless loops of desperation in half the time it would take a normal person.”


The Dinner


The+DinnerAn addictive story about social media, human nature, violence and family. Read it because it’s gripping and interesting and you’ll want to talk about what happens, which is just as well because, when you’re stuck with a bunch of people and want something to talk about, you might as well have a conversation starter. And this conversation is about how far a family should go to protect each other, so it’s a good one.


From The Dinner:

“Claire is smarter than I am. I’m not saying that out of some half-baked feminist sentiment or in order to endear women to me. You’ll never hear me claim that ‘women in general’ are smarter than men. Or more sensitive, more intuitive, or that they are more ‘in touch with life’, or any of the other horseshit that, when all is said and done, so-called ‘sensitive’ men try to peddle more often than women themselves.”


So that’s my roundup of snow-day reading. If you’re one of those poor souls who’s still looking at an ice sheet at the end of your driveway, remember that you can read Church Street books even if you can’t get to the shop — just get our ebook App and read our ebooks on your smartphone or tablet. (To set up an account, click the Kobo link at the top right of this site. In about 30 seconds, you’ll be ready to roll.)


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books, an independent coffee shop and bookstore in Birmingham, Alabama.


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