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Winter Storm Jonas: The E-Book Angle

First things, first—when Jonas-style blizzards hit us. The shovel. The heater. The pipes. The insulation. The windshield scraper. Whatever your priorities would be in the wintertime version of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

In Northern Virginia, where I live, some feared it might take several days for the power to return if it went off—due to the high winds that could imperil workers repairing the lines. The worst probably won't happen. But if it did? What to do for entertainment? Of course you could talk to family or friends if the power failed during the night—not such a bad idea—but here's another one. E-books.

To prepare for Jonas, Carly and I charged up all our e-readers and phones. If the power had gone off during Snowmageddon II, I finally would have gotten a chance to finish The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government on my Kindle Paperwhite. I had been reading it on my iPad and Nexus 6 cell phone, but with power a little iffy, backlit E Ink might be more fitting, especially at night. No flashlight needed—a limitation of paper books. And a muchlonger battery life.

So what e-books can we rely on to get through Winter Storm Jonas, from commercial e-book stores or the D.C. Public Library? Of course, The Dish is reachable anywhere in the world by way of the Web, and you’re still free to share your enthusiasms even if you’re in the tropics. But I’ll be especially curious what others in Snowmageddon country are reading. And don’t just give titles. Tell why you like such-and-such book. In the case of The Devil’s Chessboard, I’ll spell out my thoughts in a future review.

If you’re a bit of a contrarian and can’t get enough snow and ice, you can always revisit Jack London’s Call of the Wild (free Project Gutenberg text here, free LibriVox audiobook here). Or read Jules Verne’s An Antartic Mystery (text here, audio here). Speaking of the M word, a page from Cozy Mysteries Unlimited focuses on “books that revolve around snow storms.”Horror fan? Keep in mind the fearsome winter that set the mood for Mary Shelley when she was writing Frankenstein (text here,audio here). Or how about H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness? As for winter romances, check out a 2014 list from Bookish. For the ultimate winter novel, at least in spirit, consider Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome (text here, audio here).

Or, yes, you could read up on climate change. Um, the phrase “global warming” just doesn’t say it all.

An earlier version of this post appeared on David Rothman's TeleRead site devoted to news and commentary on e-books and related topics.