Book Corner: Books to Start Your Winter Reading Challenge

Let’s just take a moment to be thankful it’s no longer 2020 and that a new year is upon us. Realistically, the change from December 31 to January 1 does not mean all of our world’s problems are instantly solved and we can return to our pre-pandemic lives with abandon. It just feels more hopeful when a brand-new year lies ahead. And, even though we’re still stuck inside, there are countless adventures to be had in the seemingly infinite worlds brought to us by books. 

It never hurts to have our reading incentivized a bit, either (You’re never too old to be bribed, right?). Adult Winter Reading at Central Rappahannock Regional Library has begun, and you know you need this year’s limited-edition mug! Just read and log five books between now and March 31, visiting, opens a new window to sign up. 

To add to the fun and earn chances to win extra prizes, you can also participate in activities that will expand your reading horizons and give you a mental boost. For example, earn the Winter Fun badge by completing three of eight activities, including drinking a hot beverage while reading (done!) and making a winter-themed meal. Other badges you can earn include “Diversify Your Reading” and the “Surviving Winter Challenge.”

To get you started on earning your activity badges (or to just give you some Winter Reading ideas), here are some recommendations:

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Recently released as a film called “The Midnight Sky” on Netflix, this tale combines two intriguing concepts: space travel and the apocalypse. Brilliant astronomer Augustine refuses to abandon the Arctic research center when he learns of a globally catastrophic event. Soon, he discovers a mysterious child, then the airwaves go silent, leaving them alone. In the meantime, on the first venture into deep space, Mission Specialist “Sully” Sullivan and her crew are abandoned by Mission Control. Both Augustine and Sully face uncertain futures as their stories gradually collide in an unexpected conclusion. 

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
One cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister Summer disappears from their shared Harlem house without a trace. Left with disinterested authorities, Autumn begins pursuing answers on her own, all while grieving her mother’s recent death. She pretends she’s doing fine, but Autumn begins to come apart while becoming obsessed with murdered women and the men who kill them.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang
China, 1937. Nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University flee when Japanese bombs begin falling on Nanking. Their convoy must walk over a thousand miles to safety on a journey fraught with hunger, cold, and threat of attack. In addition, Lian and her classmates are entrusted with protecting a priceless artifact, a 500-year-old collection of folklore called the Library of Legends. The group’s shared task forms unexpected friendships, and Lian even begins a romance with handsome Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is murdered and another arrested, Lian knows she must escape before a family secret puts her in danger. Together with Shao and a maidservant, Sparrow, the trio makes their way to Lian’s mother in Shanghai. Along the way, Lian learns her companions’ true identities, while the Library of Legends awakens immortals and guardian spirits who change the country’s fate forever.

The Adventurer's Son by Roman Dial
Biology professor and National Geographic Explorer Roman Dial recounts the disappearance of his son, Cody, during a solo trek in the jungle of Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park. Flying down to lead the search, Dial discovers a forest full of danger, including deadly snakes and drug smugglers, as well as experiencing confusing complications to the search, including government red tape, supposed sightings of Cody with a local criminal, and a reality TV show bent on the murder theory. Throughout the narrative, Dial recalls his own risky excursions, including ones on which he brought young Cody, and wrestles with guilt over setting his son on a seductive path to dangerous adventures.

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
Convicted of two murders he did not commit, Anthony Ray Hinton was sentenced to death by electric chair and spent 28 years on death row in Alabama. Only in April 2015, with help from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, was Hinton exonerated from the crimes and released from prison. Despite a life spent wrongly behind bars, Hinton perseveres, exuding hope and love in this powerful memoir.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Virgil Wounded Horse, local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, is called in to deliver punishments when justice is denied by the American legal system and the tribal council. But when heroin arrives on scene and claims Virgil’s nephew, vigilante justice becomes personal. Enlisting the help of his ex-girlfriend, Virgil sets out to trace the drug’s origins and make it stop. A lead in Denver reveals rapidly expanding drug cartels and unholy alliances. And, on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative is raising questions about money and power. As Virgil begins piecing it all together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity, while wrestling with the fact that being a Native American in modern times comes at a considerable cost.

Join the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Facebook Book Chat group at, opens a new window for bookish conversation on Wednesday nights and weekly giveaways during Winter Reading.

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