From The Beacon: Some cool reads for the hot days
'Heat, ma'am! It was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones," the Rev. Sydney Smith once joked in a letter to his daughter, Lady Holland. If you're beginning to share Rev. Smith's sentiment in the face of yet another sweltering summer day, try immersing yourself in these adventures set in the freezing cold.
Fans of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy will enjoy "Smilla's Sense of Snow" by Peter Høeg. When a boy falls to his death from the snow-covered roof of her Copenhagen apartment building, Smilla Jasperson's understanding of snow structures reveals a conspiracy beyond the death of a single child.
On the continent of Westeros the seasons can last for decades, and winter is coming. In George R.R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones," King Robert Baratheon's powers are failing, his trusted adviser is dead and enemies are moving in on the throne. This book's dark but realistic medieval setting with its own legends, interwoven plots and a huge cast of characters will appeal to fantasy readers and history buffs alike.
In 1845, Sir John Franklin took two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, to seek out the fabled Northwest Passage. The expedition never returned. In Dan Simmons' novel "The Terror," Franklin meets a grisly death, and Captain Francis Crozier takes command of the crew. As the men attempt to flee south, they must contend with brutal cold, scurvy, food poisoning and madness, as well as a supernatural horror pursuing them across the ice.
Dozens of Titanic survivors told their stories to Walter Lord for his 1955 book "A Night to Remember." In this classic, Lord puzzles out a dramatic account of the events of April 14, 1912, from the first distress signals to the struggles of those left adrift in freezing waters. Fans of David McCullough will be particularly interested in Lord. In Lord's 2002 New York Times obituary, McCullough credits Lord's journalistic approach as a strong influence on his own writing.
Kelly Tyler-Lewis' "The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party" follows the story of the support party for Ernest Shackleton's trans-Antarctic expedition. After their ship, the Aurora, was washed out to sea in a gale, the 10 men made the decision to continue a two-year, 1,300-mile march to build food depots for the expedition. Tyler-Lewis employs interviews and personal journals to explore the party members' relationships and extraordinary struggles.
Gary Paulsen doesn't just write adventures stories; he lives them. In "Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod," Paulsen signs up for the famous 1,100-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Though he is unfamiliar with his new dogs and woefully underprepared, he takes on the challenge with great humor and fierce determination.
Cool breezes are not too far away but until then you can find your own air-conditioned adventure at a branch library near you.