Waterlog by Roger Deakin (1999)

Inspired by John Cheever's most famous short story The Swimmer, nature writer Roger Deakin set himself a challenge: to breaststroke his way around the whole of Britain, from its seas to its spas, its lakes to its lidos, and more.

A blend of history, autobiography and nature writing, Waterlog also captures a unique perspective of the UK on the cusp of a new millenium, before the internet took over our lives completely and summers were still unpredictable affairs. Aside from that, there's the always-timely reminder to try and live in the moment: even if that moment is 39 degrees celsius, and you want to cry. 

 

Winter by Ali Smith (2017)

The clue is in the title: part two of Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet is set during a time of frosty weather, long nights and grey days. But we're not suggesting you read it just for that. 

As with the first novel in this series, Winter is a wide-ranging and beautifully written novel that confronts our present political predicaments head on: specifically, documenting the post-truth era we're living in. It's wise, funny and as invigorating as a walk in the snow. Which quite frankly, we're up for right now.

One Day in December by Josie Silver (2018)

Summer romances are sticky affairs. Far better to fall in love in the winter, when you can hold hands on long walks and not worry about sweat patches spoiling the mood.

At least that's the thinking behind recommending Josie Silver's novel, in which our hero Laurie locks eyes with a man through a misty bus window one morning and experiences a little love-at-first-sight. We won't spoil how the two strangers get from that point to a whirlwind winter romance but trust us, it's a great yarn – and the perfect way to ignore the burning rays of sunshine outside.

The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas (1963)

A day trip to an ice palace probably sounds pretty appealing right now but being trapped in one isn't such fun. It’s hard to do justice to this gem of a novel, considered a Norwegian classic, in which an intense friendship between quiet and lonely Unn and the more vivacious Siss takes an unexpected turn when the former decides to explore the ‘ice palace’ – a waterfall that has been frozen and transformed into a magical palace of glittering rooms – on her own. Written in dream-like prose, The Ice Palace is a haunting and atmospheric coming of age tale. And most importantly: cold. Very cold. 

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

There is no chillier tale than that of Captain Scott and his fatal Antarctic expedition in 1910.  This memoir, written by one of the youngest members of Scott’s team and, later, one of the rescue party who discovered the crew's frozen bodies, is the definitive account of their attempt to reach the South Pole.

Filled with tales of human endurance pushed to the limits, discoveries in the name of science and fascinating diary entries from other members of the team, it’s no surprise that this book is often lauded as one of the finest examples of travel writing.

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