Holiday books: Our critics' top books of the year

  • Updated: November 30, 2013 - 4:00 PM

In “Consolations of the Forest” (Rizzoli Books, $24.95), French writer Sylvain Tesson goes off to live in a cabin in the Siberian taiga for most of a winter and part of a summer. I’m kind of a hermit at heart myself, and I loved reading about his days and weeks of solitude and the utterly natural way he took to life in the forest, training a tiny bird to accept his bread crumbs, snowshoeing up past the treeline in thigh-deep snow, spending hours gazing at a frozen Lake Baikal. Despite the solitude, there was plenty of action and emotion — he encountered some larger-than-life characters, acquired two dogs, drank a lot of vodka, more than seems humanly possible, and had his heart broken, long-distance. But I never got tired of the quieter moments, and his many and varied descriptions of ice and snow.

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