Book Corner: Heartwarming Fiction for Winter Reading

As I’m writing this article, the weather outside is frightful and post-holiday blahs are less than delightful. But, wait! There is something to look forward to: earning a prize in Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Adult Winter Reading Challenge., opens a new window Between now and March 31, we can all read and log 5 books and earn a colorful stylus pen with the phrase, “Read, Relax, Repeat” engraved on it. Cute, right?

For additional cheering up, here are some fiction picks guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart. Curl up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a cat or two, if you have them, and read the winter doldrums away.

Maame, opens a new window by Jessica George
Maddie, nicknamed “Maame,” or “responsible one” in Twi, balances caring for her dad with a dead-end job in an unsupportive workplace where hers is the only Black voice in the room. When her mother returns to London from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie dives into city life, finding a flatshare and seeking "firsts” through drinking and dating. Then tragedy and family secrets force her to confront who she truly is and where she belongs in this funny, poignant story about family responsibilities, culture and belonging, and discovering yourself.

You Are Here, opens a new window by Karin Lin-Greenberg
Lin-Greenberg's absorbing debut unfolds in a dying mall where a disparate cast of characters finds their lives connected in unexpected ways. A hairdresser, her shy son, a teenager who works in the food court, a bookstore recluse, and a prickly older woman are all struggling to figure out their futures as their mall crumbles around them and tragedy strikes their community. This moving exploration of connection, resilience, and finding triumph in the ordinary will appeal to the solo reader and book groups alike.

How Not to Die Alone, opens a new window by Richard Roper
The morbid nature of Andrew’s job, to find the next-of-kin of people who die alone, is tempered in his colleagues’ eyes by the knowledge he goes home to a loving wife and kids each night. Except that’s all a misunderstanding. In truth, Andrew lives a sad life alone, and he hasn’t figured out how to set the record straight. Once he and his unhappily married colleague, Peggy, begin to click, this becomes a problem. Even more so when their boss decides each member of the team should host a dinner party. How will Andrew get out of this ridiculous situation?

The Celebrants, opens a new window by Steven Rowley
28 years after their college graduation, five friends still don’t feel any closer to having life figured out, but it’s not for lack of trying. Over the years, they’ve gathered in Big Sur to throw each other “living funerals,” celebrations to reinforce that their lives have meaning and to support one another during difficult transitions. This time, it’s different because Jordan has a big secret, one that could destroy their pact. Rowley, author of the adorable novel “The Guncle,” navigates friendships and the challenges of adult life with humor and warmth.

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, opens a new window by Jesse Q. Sutanto
The best selling author of “Dial A for Aunties” is back with a cozy mystery set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Vera Wong is an older lady who spends her days in her quiet tea shop and her evenings following her college-age son on the internet. One morning, Vera discovers a dead man in her shop, flash drive in an outstretched hand. She calls the police but keeps the flash drive, convinced she’s the one to solve the murder. Vera knows the killer will return for the drive; she just needs to watch her customers and figure out who it is. But what happens when Vera starts befriending all of her customers and wants to mother them all? Will she have to turn one into the police?

Holding Pattern, opens a new window by Jenny Xie
In this delightful mother-daughter story, Kathleen returns to her childhood home after a devastating breakup and dropping out of grad school. Kathleen discovers her mother, Marissa, is happily engaged, renewed after years of drinking and struggling from her move from Shanghai to America. Marissa dubs Kathleen maid of honor, which causes strife between them. Meanwhile, Kathleen finds a job as a “professional cuddler” offering therapy through nonsexual touch, then forms an unexpected attachment to someone at work. This inspires Kathleen to rethink her relationships, especially with her mother.

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.