The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 29, 2013

Winter reads for the deep freeze

Authors, professors provide book recommendations for the deep freeze ahead

This is it, folks: the deep freeze. And if the upcoming spring is anything like the last, we won't be seeing green until mid-May.

There are the hardy few among us who love the snow and ice and spend oodles of their time bundled up engaging in outdoor winter sports activities. Good for them.

Many of the rest of us hibernate. Tucked away in our warm little abodes, nothing feels cozier on a cold winter's night than a hot beverage and a good book.

To help with your winter reading list, we asked several area authors and college professors to give their recommendations on good winter reads.

Here's what they had to say.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills, English instructor at South Central College and author of “The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don't Mind” and “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children”

■ “And the Mountains Echoed,” by Khalid Hosseini, is a sweeping look at how one person's decisions echo through time and a family. It's set, of course, in Afghanistan, but it makes its way to America, France and Greece, too. The stories are complex and sometimes ambiguous, but that's OK because it's truthful — families sprawl out and make multi-layered decisions that influence us in ways we don't always understand.

■ “Chasing Shadows,” by Swati Avasthi, is the story of three high school friends (two are brother and sister) who are affected by maybe-or-maybe-not random violence in Chicago. The book is unique because it's got alternate storytelling viewpoints (Holly and Savitri), but one story is also told as a graphic novel.

Swati's work is always intense and complex (just like Hosseini's) and it pulls you in immediately.

Rachael Hanel, Mass Media professor at Minnesota State University and author of “We'll Be the Last Ones To Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter”

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