[caption id="attachment_63460" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2019\/12\/DSC_0255.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="397" class="size-full wp-image-63460" \/> Throw another log on the fire, fix a hot beverage, grab a new or old book and settle in for a day of reading. It\u2019s a great way to enjoy the holidays, and it will keep cabin fever away from your door. Oh, and don\u2019t forget the cat! L.D. Bennett photo[\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nWinter is here, and it\u2019s the perfect time to curl up with a good book.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHere are some recommendations for spell-binding books for holiday reading and beyond:\u00a0\r\n\r\nCabin fever won\u2019t have a chance with a stack of books like these on your bedside table.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWolf Pack \r\nby CJ. Box\r\n\r\nThis is number 19 in the legendary murder mystery series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, which has kept fans enthralled since 2001.\r\n\r\nLike a lot of my reading addictions, I discovered the Wyoming saga at McClintic Library when I found a few Joe Pickett novels as I was perusing the stacks.\u00a0\r\n\r\nPickett\u2019s got a badge, a gun, a horse, a small state-owned house and a pickup truck, all issued to him by the Wyoming Division of Wildlife.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHis modest salary keeps him worried about how to take care of his family \u2013 a beautiful wife and three young daughters \u2013 but he loves being outdoors and the autonomy that his job allows him.\r\n\r\nWhat draws me back, time and again, to this series is its setting.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe back country in the mountains of Wyoming offers a backdrop of rural culture, rugged terrain, ever- present wildlife and sometimes challenging winter weather \u2013 a lot like Pocahontas County.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIf you like stories built around a timeless wild west ethos, characters made of old-fashioned toughness, and thrillers written with realism and grit, you will love this series.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWhet your appetite with Wolf Pack and then go back and start with the first book in the series, Open Season.\r\n\r\nThese books will keep you absorbed straight through winter and into spring. And if you spend a lot of time in your vehicle, you\u2019ll be glad to know that they\u2019re all available on CD and MP3. \r\n\r\nI\u2019m listening to one \u2013 for the third time \u2013 in my Jeep right now.\r\n\r\nMy Antonia \r\nby Willa Cather\r\n\r\nSwitch gears with another story set in the American west. This one takes a look back to the 19th century when wagon trains were trundling across the American plains and immigrant farmers were struggling to tame a wild, flat country.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe title character is born and raised on the Great Plains \u2013 the stoic daughter of a struggling Bohemian family.\r\n\r\nThe story gives readers an unvarnished look at the life of these pioneers \u2013 how they were at the mercy of nature \u2013 their life and livelihoods hanging on the turn of the seasons.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe snow arrives in early December, and the family must stay\u00a0indoors for months on end, wrapped in blankets, huddled by the fire. \r\n\u00a0\r\nThrough the hardship, the hunger, illness and loss that threatens to break their spirit, the settlers persist and farm the land.\r\n\r\nAlthough this novel shows us, in no uncertain terms, that the life of our pioneer ancestors was hard and unforgiving, it also gives us evidence that life renews itself, just as hope springs eternal.\r\n\r\nThis is a book of fiction, a fascinating story of a small group of immigrants, but it might as well be historical fiction, because we know the truth of the story \u2013 it is but one of the millions of stories that our ancestors lived.\u00a0\r\n\r\nMy Antonia is a tribute to the bravery of ordinary people, the resilience of the human spirit and the indefatigable character of the people who settled America.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe 19th Christmas \r\nby James Patterson and Maxine Paetro\r\n\r\nThis novel was #1 on the New York Times best seller list this year \u2013 and if you haven\u2019t already \u2013 this winter will be the perfect time to read it.\r\n\r\nAs you already know, I love mysteries, thrillers and following fascinating characters through a long series of books.\r\n\r\nThis series may be a little \u201clightweight\u201d for some, but I find that when there\u2019s a lot going on \u2013 the house is full of company \u2013 and I need to just disconnect with a little \u201cme time,\u201d it\u2019s sometimes a pleasure to just drop into an easy read.\r\n\r\nDetective Lindsay Boxer, her family and friends in the San Francisco Police Department and the Women\u2019s Murder Club are the kind of characters who make it fun to follow the clues.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn this one, the holidays are fast approaching, and thoughts of bad guys and murder are on the back burner.\r\n\r\nDetective Boxer and the Murder Club prepare for a quiet Christmas, but, as you probably guessed, plans change when tragedy strikes.\r\n\r\nA dastardly criminal mastermind makes murderous headlines and threatens everyone\u2019s safety and peace of mind.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBy hook and by crook, Boxer and the Murder Club come to the rescue, and bring the bad guy to justice just in time to let everyone get back to basking in the Christmas spirit.\r\n\r\nWhere the Crawdads Sing \r\nby Delia Owens\r\n\r\nMy Minnehaha CEOS (Community Education Outreach Service) club keeps track of our reading and often exchanges recommendations of our favorite books.\u00a0\r\n\r\nLast month, Rene White brought\u00a0Where the Crawdads Sing to our attention, giving it a rave review.\r\n\r\nSet in the time period between 1952 and the 1970s, this book presents a harrowing but ultimately triumphant coming of age story.\r\n\r\nKya Clark is gradually totally abandoned by her family, and must find a way to survive on her own in a shack in the swamp\u00a0near a small town on the coast of North Carolina.\r\n\r\nWe follow Kya\u2019s struggle in a back and forth retelling of her life, from age six to 25.\r\n\r\nAfter some demoralizing run-ins with the kids of the town and a frightening experience with a truant officer, she learns how to manage in the isolation and relative safety of her ramshackle existence in the marsh and absorbs valuable lessons by observing the natural world.\r\n\r\nKya learns to hunt and catch fish, which she sells to shopkeepers in the town beyond the creek.\r\n\r\nRumors about the wild \u201cMarsh Girl\u201d cause the townspeople to mistrust her, but\u00a0Kya isn\u2019t the weird, feral child some say she is.\u00a0\r\n\r\nLoneliness and longing for companionship finally drive her back to \u201ccivilization\u201d in her teenage years, but misunderstandings and misadventures threaten to ruin her young life. \u00a0\r\n\r\nKya\u2019s sensitivity, bravery and intelligence make her a memorable character, and her plight is heartbreakingly unforgettable.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe fact that she survives so many years alone makes Kya a rare and true heroine \u2013 someone readers aren\u2019t likely to ever forget.\r\n\r\nStone Mattress:\u00a0Nine Wicked Tales\u00a0\r\nby Margaret Atwood\r\n\r\nBorn in 1939, Margaret Atwood has had an amazing literary career, turning out a huge body of award-winning work which includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children\u2019s books.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHer fans know that she still writes gripping, sometimes disturbing novels, this year publishing, The Testaments, a\u00a0sequel to perhaps her most famous book, a harrowing view into a dystopian future,\u00a0The Handmaid\u2019s Tale.\r\n\r\nBut for someone unfamiliar with her work or for something particularly apropos for winter reading, I suggest Atwood\u2019s\u00a02014 collec- tion of nine short stories, Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAs in many of Atwood\u2019s other work, these stories illustrate the power of the written word.\r\n\r\nThey give us insight into the minds of those who formulate those words, as many of the subjects of the stories are writers themselves.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSome of Atwood\u2019s recurring themes \u2013 gender, aging, revenge and identity \u2013 are revisited here.\r\n\r\nThese well-crafted short stories have something\u00a0for everyone. But they\u2019re not for the faint of heart.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThis is serious reading for the serious reader.\r\n\r\nHere are nine chilling tales to read while you\u2019re inside, surrounded by a snowy landscape, but safe, warm and cheered by a roaring fire.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIf non-fiction with a distinctly masculine bent is more to your taste, or you\u2019re looking for the perfect gift for the hunter in your life, this book is for you.\r\n\r\nDawn of American Deer Hunting Volume II : A Photographic Odyssey of Whitetail Hunting History \r\nby Duncan Dobie\u00a0\r\n\r\nThis beautiful hard-cover book is the bigger and better sequel to the best-seller, Dawn of American Deer Hunting.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s 240 pages contain nearly 400 vintage black and white photos and a\u00a0stunning color section of whitetail paintings by some of the country\u2019s top artists.\r\n\r\nThis look at America\u2019s deer hunting history reveals the role that white-tailed deer hunting played in the expansion of our nation.\r\n\r\nIt provided food, clothing, income and camaraderie throughout the beginnings of the American story and still does today.\r\n\r\nThe outstanding collection of photographs and historical information from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s provides an excellent overview of hunting culture.\r\n\r\nThere is also a compendium of classic rifles, stories about how hunters traveled to remote deer camps, what kind of shelters they stayed in and a vast array of fascinating hunting history from deer hunting regions across America. This is a book all hunters will treasure.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAlso featured are profiles and photos\u00a0of famous hunters like Theo-dore Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and Annie Oakley.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe collection of amazing full-color paintings by some of the country\u2019s top wildlife artists is worth the price of the book itself.\r\n\r\nDawn of American Deer Hunting, Volume II, is available in a signed hardbound Collector\u2019s Edition for $40 and a deluxe leather-bound, signed-and-numbered edition for $70.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAnd if you want to complete the acquisition, you\u2019ll want to get the original Dawn of American Deer Hunting, too.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThese books would be perfect for most Pocahontas County coffee tables or any flat surface at your hunting camp.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWest Virginia Authors\r\n\r\nThe Mountain State has produced many talented writers, including Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck, whose beautiful birthplace is located in Hillsboro, right here in Pocahontas County.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBy the way, her mother\u2019s family home is open to the public and is well worth a visit, but you\u2019ll have to wait until next spring, because it\u2019s closed for the winter.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHere are three West Virginians who have made names for themselves in literary circles.\u00a0You won\u2019t go wrong in putting any of their books on your reading list.\r\n\r\nHomer Hickam\r\n\r\nIf you like West Virginia memoirs and you haven\u2019t yet become acquainted with Homer Hickam\u2019s autobiographical novels, it\u2019s high time you did.\r\n\r\nHickam first shot to fame in 1998 with Rocket Boys, an account of his teen years which were spent building and launching rockets in his hometown, the small coal-mining community of Coalwood.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHickam is one of the most famous and most interesting authors to come out of West Virginia in modern times.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA Vietnam veteran, amateur paleontologist and NASA engineer, Hickam draws upon his personal history to weave colorful stories, exciting adventures and some just plain hilarious accounts of his and his family\u2019s life.\u00a0\r\n\r\nFrom Rocket Boys, to October Sky,\u00a0Carrying Albert Home and the Coalwood Way, Hickam\u2019s many novels are infused with the down-home wit and wisdom of a talented and tenacious son of the coalfields.\r\n\r\nThis West Virginia storyteller has more than earned his place among America\u2019s best.\u00a0\r\n\r\nCarlene Thompson\r\n\r\nIf you like West Virginia, suspense novels and have a soft spot for dogs and cats,\u00a0you need to get acquainted with Carlene Thompson\u2019s vast body of work.\r\n\r\nA Parkersburg native, Thompson was raised in Point Pleasant, and is an alumna of Marshall University.\r\n\r\nShe sets most of her mysteries in West Virginia, paying fitting tribute to her mountain roots.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThompson began her writing career rather early.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAfter seeing \u201c101 Dalmatians\u201d at the age of nine, she wrote a novel called\u00a0The Mystery of the Golden Retriever.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA devoted animal lover, she tries to include at least one of her pets into every book, which is her way of immortalizing them.\r\n\r\nHer first novel,\u00a0Black for Remembrance,\u00a0was published in 1991. She says she got the inspiration for it\u00a0 while walking with her dogs in the woods.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSince then, she\u2019s written 16 more mysteries \u2013 any one of which should keep a West Virginian or anyone who\u2019d like to think of themselves as one, glued to the page.\r\n\r\nYou may want to start with one of Thompson\u2019s earlier mysteries,\u00a0Share No Secrets.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s set along\u00a0the banks of the Ohio River, in Point Pleasant, which is home to a widow and her 14 year old daughter. Their sense of safety is horribly shattered when a family friend is found murdered in a once-elegant, now abandoned hotel.\r\n\r\nAnd that\u2019s just the beginning of the terrible mysteries that need to be solved before life can get back to anything near normal again.\u00a0\r\n\r\nStephen Coonts\r\n\r\nIf you like military thrillers, you\u2019ve probably already been reading the novels by Buckhannon, West Virginia native Stephen Coonts.\u00a0\r\n\r\nTaxi driver, policeman, West Virginia University graduate and Navy pilot who was\u00a0decorated for his service during the Vietnam War, Coonts\u2019\u00a0real-life experience prepared him well for his writing career.\r\n\u00a0\r\nHis first novel,\u00a0Flight of the Intruder, was published in September 1986 by the Naval Institute Press.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt spent 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and became an instant classic.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA motion picture based on this novel, with the same title, came out in January 1991.\r\n\r\nHe has spun more than 50 tense stories of political intrigue and military drama set on the international stage, many of which were written as part of several different series.\r\n\r\nIf non-fiction is more to your liking, Coonts wrote an excellent memoir\u00a0The Cannibal Queen: A Flight into the Heart of America, about a cross-country flight the author and his teenage son took in a 1942 Stearman biplane.\r\n\r\nWell, there you have it. Just a few good choices for your holiday and winter reading.\r\n\r\nKinda makes you wish for a blizzard that would keep you homebound, doesn\u2019t it?