Snuggle up: the ultimate winter books and TV guide

Ronny Chieng: International Student.
Ronny Chieng: International Student.

IT took a while to hit this year, but winter has arrived in full force.

So put your ugg boots on, pour yourself a nice glass of red and snuggle in under that blanket – these are the very best books and television shows to keep you entertained without leaving the house.

INTO THE WATER
by Paula Hawkins
Penguin Random House

The whole world went crazy over Paula Hawkins’ hit debut novel The Girl on the Train and the film adaptation starring Emily Blunt. For fans who have been craving more from the author, the wait is over as the bestseller is back with a brand new story. Set in a small riverside town, Into the Water is a gripping, twisting, layered story of psychological suspense about the slipperiness of the truth and a family drowning in secrets.

NEW BOY (HOGARTH SHAKESPEARE) 
by Tracey Chevalier
Penguin Random House

Renowned author of bestseller The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Tracey Chevalier has teamed up with Hogarth as part of their Shakespeare adaptation series to create a reworking of Othello. Now set in a schoolyard in Washington in the 1970s, Othello is Osei Kokote, an 11-year-old school boy arriving at his fourth school in as many years. He hits it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school, but another student Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. Just like the original, this is a drama of jealousy, bullying and betrayal.

RIVER COTTAGE EASY
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Allen & Unwin

TV chef and prolific cookbook author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is keeping it simple with this latest book, River Cottage Easy. Looking back over nearly two decades of professional cookery, Fearnley-Whittingstall has worked out a formula of putting just three ingredients together to create a whole that is greater and more delicious than the sum of its parts. Think scones with jam and cream, fish and chips with mushy peas, or porridge with golden syrup and cream.

 

THE COWS
by Dawn O’Porter
HarperCollins

You may recognise Dawn O’Porter from her work as a TV presenter in programs such as This Old Thing, as seen on ABC. But O’Porter is also an accomplished author with several young-adult novels under her belt and has now come out with her first adult fiction book. A piece of meat, born to breed, one of the herd; The Cows is about three women and how in all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice. This powerful novel is about friendship, being female and about never following the herd.

THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS
by Arundhati Roy
Penguin Random House

Her debut novel, The God of Small Things, won the 1997 Man Booker Prize and, 20 years later, Arundhati Roy is back with a new novel. In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a threadbare Persian carpet is unrolled. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears. In a snowy valley, a father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In an apartment, a lone woman reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other. This novel covers the lives of several characters across a journey of many years, each of them in search of a place of safety, meaning and love.

TV GUIDE

NETFLIX

The biggest event on the Netflix calendar is always the release of the next series of its first original hit, Orange is the New Black. With last season ending on a huge cliffhanger, it will be hard to resist binge-watching the whole of Season 5. If you have not seen the smash hit, scfi horror throwback to the ’70s and ’80s that is Stranger Things, make sure you catch up before the highly anticipated second series comes out on Halloween. Out now is a new adaptation of the beloved children’s classic Anne of Green Gables, entitled simply Anne. The red-headed chatterbox orphan has  been loved by both children and adults for more than 100 years and with the 1985 adaptation starring Megan Follows being a fan favourite, this new take on the story has big shoes to fill. Netflix original shows currently filming include the second series of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Crown.

Natasha Lyonne and Ruby Rose in Orange is the New Black.

STAN

Comedy is king on Stan with its One Night Stan series, featuring stand-up shows from some of Australian’s favourite comedians including Wil Anderson, Tom Ballard and Judith Lucy. Stan is also the perfect place for catching up with old favourites. Box sets of classic sitcoms such as Seinfield, Friends and Frasier are available, as well as British comedy highlights including The Vicar of Dibley and Fawlty Towers. For mystery and drama lovers, out now on Stan is the highly anticipated reboot of Twin Peaks, where you can revisit the original ’90s series.

FOXTEL

Currently showing on Foxtel are the latest series of some of its biggest programs. There is even more drama from all your favourite characters in the hit original show Wentworth, timely political satire from Veep, hilarity and irreverence from Silicon Valley and all the ups and downs of building a house in Grand Designs Australia. Mark July on your calendar when the most anticipated show of the year Game of Thrones starts its seventh season. With only seven episodes in total, you will want to be watching this one as it comes out to avoid crucial spoilers. Also fast-tracked from the US is a new 10-part series called Genius starring our own Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein. Australian drama fans also have the new adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock to look forward to starring Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones) and Yael Stone (Lorna in Orange is the New Black) and the second season of Top of the Lake, subtitled China Girl, this time set in Sydney around Bondi Beach.

FREE-TO-AIR

There is also plenty to look forward to on the free-to-air channels. After showing the pilot episode during its Comedy Showroom series last year, the ABC has commissioned a full series of Ronny Chieng: International Student. With Ronny honing his comedic skills in the US on The Daily Show, this series is guaranteed to be a hilarious look at university culture. SBS has teamed up acclaimed actors Melanie Lynskey and Anthony LaPaglia for a new series entitled Sunshine. This four-part thriller follows the life of Jacob, a young, aspiring South Sudanese-Australian basketball player who is set to be picked up by US college scouts. Seven is also bringing us star-studded crime drama Blue Murder: Killer Cop. Based on true events, this is a sequel to the mini-series Blue Murder from 1995.

Ronny Chieng.