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Google Books takes a look back at some fun winter activities from the past

a desk with a laptop and books and a winter object like a hat and lantern

It’s winter time in the Northern Hemisphere! There’s a chill in the air and daylight is scarce, so it’s generally the time of year when we hibernate with comfort food and cuddly nights spent on the couch. But if you’re more the type to work up a sweat than to bundle under a pile of blankets, you aren’t alone. People have been celebrating winter activities for centuries, and this season Google Books is taking a look back at some winter fun from yesteryear, by sharing some of the books we’ve scanned with our library partners. Maybe you can find some inspiration for getting ahead of your New Year’s resolution, or even find helpful tips like what kind of skirt to wear for backcountry skiing, or the best way to build an ice yacht.

Come with us on this fun journey through history – let H. Percy Ashley, foremost ice yacht expert in the world (in 1914), be your guide.

Black-and-white headshot of H. Percy Ashley.

H. Percy Ashley, ice yacht expert

A black-and-white photo of an ice-palace in Montreal.

Got ice and a burning desire to build your own ice-palace? In A Book of Winter Sports, Edwin Wildman recounts the Montreal Ice Carnival of 1883, where revelers equipped with snow-shoes stormed the palace and celebrated with colorful fireworks that reflected off of the solid ice walls.

A black-and-white illustration of an out-of-control skier about to crash into the posterior of an older man smoking a cigarette. The caption reads, "An anti-climax."

An illustration from Reginald Cleaver’s A Winter-sport Book

Reginald Cleaver’s A Winter-sport Book is filled with a number of interesting (and amusing) illustrations of winter sports, and winter sports gone wrong.

In Snow and Ice Sports: A Winter Manual, author Elon Jessup diagrams how to approach a ski jump.

A black-and-white diagram of a ski jump in progress, with the caption, "The various positions of a ski-jumper after he has whizzed down the 'approach,' and arrived at the 'take-off.' Courtesy of Alexander Taylor."

A diagram of ski jump approach and take-off

After sharing his diagram, Mr. Jessup mentions casually how, “People wonder at the scarcity of fatal injuries in ski jumping.” As Mr. Ashley would likely recommend, perhaps we should stick to ice yachting.

Four men in suits wearing ice skates on a frozen lake. They hold large white sails in their right arms.

Four men skate sailing on a frozen lake

If you find ice skating a little too simple, give skate sailing a try! You can find instructions as listed in The Book of Winter Sports, by Edgar and Madge Syers. Pop on your warmest bespoke suit and snazziest top hat, strap on your skates and surrender your fate to the winter wind as it pushes you across a frozen lake. At least, you’d better hope the lake is frozen. 🥶

However you find your wholesome fun this winter season, Google Books has volumes to keep you learning and entertained – after all, there’s nothing better to warm you up on a cold winter’s night than a hearty laugh with a good book.

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