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Snowed In

Books to get you through the winter

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Within these pages dedicated to the cold and flaky, we decided the inclusion of something on snow books was a must. And we got to thinking about all that "snow books" could mean and realized that such a book could be anything from a winter survival guide to the kind of book a person might like to curl up with on a cold and snowy day. So rather than interpreting the mission narrowly, we hereby present a smattering of books that might fit the bill, whichever way you choose to understand the designation "snow book."

snowed in: real-life stories

Anyone who has been paying attention during his or her time on earth (exception: those born and raised in and never left the tropics), knows winter is a bitch--a dangerous, life-force-draining, frostbite-giving, skin-chapping, snow-blinding menace. In an industry that loves a good survival memoir, it seems like an awful lot of memoirists' tribulations involved snow. We'll skip the stories about stranded snowboarders and peckish rugby teams downed in the Andes.

The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic, by Edward Beauclerk Maurice (Houghton Mifflin)

Maurice's memoir is the story of signing on with the Hudson's Bay Company at the age of 16 in 1930, being dispatched to an isolated trading post in the Canadian Arctic and the near-decade he spent among the Inuit people who traded there.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, by Gary Paulsen (Harcourt)

This is Newbery Honor Book-winning children's author Paulsen's account of his own entry into the Iditarod--a punishing 1,180-mile annual dog race across Alaska.

See Naples and Die: A World War II Memoir of a United States Army Ski Trooper in the Mountains of Italy, by Robert B. Ellis (McFarland & Company)

At the age of 18 in 1943, Ellis volunteered for service with the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division ski troops. Ellis tells the story of his time with the skip troops through letters, diary entries and narration.

snowed in: guides

For those who would rather get out into the fray than read about those who have, there are plenty of guides, primers and how-to books available to help you maximize your appreciation of the snow.

Leocha's Ski Snowboard America: Top Winter Resorts in USA and Canada (19th ed.), by Charlie A. Leocha (World Leisure Corporation)

This book is up-to-date, comprehensive, and it has not just the educated contributions of skiing and snowboarding journalists, but the nuts-and-bolts info necessary to get from reading about a destination to actually getting up that hill.

The Story of Modern Skiing, by John Fry (University Press of New England)

This exhaustive tome includes not just the history of the wildly popular sport, but supplementary maps, indexes, bibliographies and a glossary.

Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes, by Kenneth Libbrecht (Voyageur Press)

Take this pocket-sized book out into the snow and you'll realize how much there is to know about the stuff.

snowed in: a comfy chair and hot chocolate

Some of us have come to the conclusion: Snow--who needs it? If your preference is to stay warm and cozy, perhaps just grab a story from someone else's imagination, like one of the snowy tomes below, and experience all the wonders of winter without the risk of frostbite.

Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Høeg (Delta)

In the title character's investigation of a small boy's death--her involvement coming because of her rarified understanding of the structure of snow--she goes from chilly Copenhagen to a chilly island off the coast of Greenland. Brr.

Swan Lake, A City in Winter and The Veil of Snows, by Mark Helprin (Viking)

Just reading the titles of this trilogy of modern children's fairytales is enough to conjure the cold of Siberia. Helping the mood are illustrations by The Polar Express's whimsical author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg.

Winter's Tales, by Isak Dinesen (Knopf)

If a celebrated Scandinavian author can't conjure a convincing snow story, it can't be done. Happily, Dinesen has managed to set readers adrift on more than one metaphoric ice floe with her evocations of cold climates. She does so here with 11 stories for the season.