It’s summer and more than ever, people are looking for cool reads. Like, seriously, cold-climate books that will help you keep cool during a heat wave. So head to the Himalayas and “Into Thin Air,” or the horse-drawn sleigh world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here’s a sampling of cool reads—both literal and figurative—from around the world.
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’
By Stieg Larsson(Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)If you haven’t read this publishing phenom, there’s no better time than a heatwave to immerse yourself in this Swedish juggernaut. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomvist teams up with Lisbeth Salander, a hard-edged, enigmatic computer hacker, to discover what happened to Harriet Vanger, a girl who disappeared 40 years ago. Delving into the Vanger’s complicated family tree proves thorny, as family secrets are brought to light, Lisbeth deals with demons (more than one misogynist), and a serial killer wreaks havoc…all in Sweden’s frigid climate. Cool, ja? And if you’ve already read the Millennium trilogy, check out “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo.
‘Smilia’s Sense of Snow’
By Peter Hoeg(Delta)Born to an Inuit hunter and a Danish doctor, Smilia Jaspersen puts her keen understanding of snow and ice, as well as serious tenacity, to use to solve the death of a neighbor boy. As she goes undercover on a ship headed towards Greenland, you’ll shiver with empathy and suspense.
By Stephen King(Gallery) For another chilling yarn, pick up the master (i.e. Stephen King) and rediscover the tale of frustrated writer-turned-caretaker-turned possessed lunatic Jack Torrance, who totes his wife and clairvoyant son Danny in an effort to rebuild his life. Things don’t exactly go as planned, thanks to the insidious and just plain evil nature of the hotel itself. All work and no play makes Jack a deadly boy, and this a can’t-put-down book.
‘Love in a Cold Climate’
By Nancy Mitford(Vintage) The climate isn’t all that cold in Mitford’s novel, but it showcases British sangfroid. Grab a Pimm’s Cup and slip into this tart tale of the aristocratic Montdore family. You’ll forget about the thermostat as you get caught up in the love affairs, intrigues, and social standing of the cool-but-aloof Polly and her social-climbing mother, Lady Montdore.
‘Into Thin Air’
By Jon Krakauer(Turtleback) There are a lot of books about mountain climbing but few are as gripping as Krakauer’s tragic nonfiction bestseller. Your heart will break as you watch the disastrous 1996 Everest climb unfold, each small decision reverberating toward a fateful outcome. Krakauer manages to make climbing breathtaking and courageous, while narrating the harrowing story with respect and journalistic mastery.
By Martin Cruz Smith(Ballantine)Crime novels don’t come much better than Smith’s 1981 work. Chief Investigator Arkady Renko investigates three bodies found in a Moscow amusement park. Lacking the, um, necessary body parts to be identified, the corpses provide a challenge for Renko. Forensic science and good-old-fashioned detective work combine to ID the victims as well as the motive behind their murders. A thoughtfully written detective novel that is just as cool the second time around.‘Snow Falling on Cedars’
By David Guterson(Vintage) Guterson’s beautiful, atmospheric novel will take you away to the only cool place in the U.S. right now: the Pacific Northwest. Set in 1954, the story centers around the trial of a Japanese-American accused of killing a local fisherman. As the events unfold, racial tensions surface in a community still trying to recover from Japanese internment during World War II. “Snow Falling on Cedars” manages to be both a literary thought-provoker and a gripping thriller.
‘Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage’
By Albert Lansing(Basic Books) “Endurance” and “incredible” is right! First published in 1959, the nonfiction classic follows Sir Ernest Shackleton as he and his crew attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914. Things go awry and the adventure becomes a story of serious endurance, as their ship—the Endurance—is done in by ice and the crew is stranded on an ice pack…for a year. The story—and their trek—is far from over, as they make their way to Elephant Island and beyond. With access to all the diaries from the expedition, Lansing produces a book that is stone-cold incredible. If you like “Endurance,” check out “Voyage of the Narwhal” by Andrea Barrett.
‘Call of the Wild’
By Jack London (Simon & Brown) Get carried away to the wilds of Alaska in this moving story of Buck, a Saint Bernard-Shepherd dog who is snatched out of a comfy life to become a kick-butt sled dog in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. His adventures with humans have their ups and downs and Buck eventually spends more and more time in the wilderness with a wolf. Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, this 1903 classic is full of adventure, heart, and a whole lot of snow.
‘The Long Winter’ By Laura Ingalls Wilder (HaperCollins) Wilder’s simple prose holds up to an adult re-visitation: The story of the Ingalls’ brutal winter in the Dakota territories will have you stoking your fireplace in August out of sheer gratitude. A series of seemingly unending and increasing brutal blizzards—seven months’ worth!—is met with resourcefulness and a whole lot of layers of clothing. This is a charming nostalgic read for kids and adults alike that will put first-world problems in perspective and have you hankering for button lamps and coarse brown bread.
Jennifer Worick is the author of more than 25 books and a publishing consultant; she can be found at .