Well, I read (and cooked). One of the books that got me through was Dan Simmons's The Terror, a book about the failed attempt to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. I found this book intriguing on so many different levels. First off, I remembered discussing the actual expedition in my medical anth class in college. The doomed Franklin expedition brought canned food that was sealed with lead. One of the symptoms of lead poisoning is dementia and there were reports that crew members were trekking across the ice with all manner of nonessentials, including a writing desk!
Anyway, I found this discussion incredibly interesting and was totally stoked when I found out that Dan Simmons had a historical horror novel based around said expedition. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy and I gotta tell you it really helped to keep me sane during our massive snow storms!
Simmons is a very prolific author who writes in many genres - sci-fi, horror, mystery - but I had not really read any of his work until Teror. After reading it, though, I've been waiting in extreme anticipation for the upcoming release of Drood. Simmons will once again tackle the mix of historical info and fiction that worked so well in The Terror. This time, he looks at famous literary friends Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins from 1865 to Dickens's death in 1870. According to his website, it will be a combination of history, biography, and dark fantasy.
I can't wait!