As I look out my window at the abundance of wet, fallen leaves littering my patio and, unfortunately, sticking to my car windshield by the masses, it’s become quite clear to me that fall, despite some 70 degree days last week, is officially upon us. While I’m all for sun and shades and swimwear, its mornings like this when I can understand the appeal of autumn. Wrapped in an afghan, waiting for my tea to steep, the only thing that I’m motivated to do is wrap my blanket around myself more snugly, wrap my hands around my mug more tightly, and wrap my mind around a book as soon as possible.
Hence, it seems like this blog post is quite timely. Over the last couple of weeks, us lit-lovers here at Writers & Books have tried to decide the best books to read on days exactly like these – when the chill dampness of October (or November) leaves us (no pun intended) feeling lazy and perhaps a bit lack-luster and the best thing to do is get cozy with tea or cider or chicken noodle soup and hibernate with a good book.
Now I was never much of a firm believer in “seasonal reads,” or at least I could never determine which books I wanted to read in which season and why, but after looking over the suggestions of the other staff members, I’m a convert. I even was able to come up with my own suggestion (something which I wasn’t entirely convinced I could do)! All of these picks are perfect for this kind of day and are promising companions for the rest of season. Whether you like to scare yourself in to sleepless states with horror reads or you prefer to cuddle up with writing that will enchant and engross, rather than petrify you, these titles are all appropriate for the season.
The descriptions will give you an idea of what you’re in for, and the images will make finding these autumnal gems a bit easier – whether you’re searching among your own collection, the stacks of your local library, or perhaps browsing the shelves of the used book store at Writers & Books. (Once you’re satisfied with the pick of your own, feel free to get comfortable with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate in our Lit Lounge – opened exactly for the type who likes to experience fall in an overstuffed chair, lost somewhere between the title page and back cover of a favorite read.)
We hope that this list provides you at least one book that fits your fall needs or, maybe, even pushes you outside your literary comfort zone. At the very least we hope whatever you decide on, whether it be from our list of suggestions, or your own personal selection, the book keeps you guessing, keeps you wondering, but most importantly, keeps you reading.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my fall pick: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. This classic is, in my opinion, a perfect read for the season. It’s dark, disturbing, and certainly haunting enough to qualify as a story which has the potential to send shivers down your spine and make your sink down a bit deeper into your covers. However, with the multiple points of views, streams of consciousness, and internal monologues characteristic of the genius Faulkner, it deals with the concept of death in a manner far more sophisticated than other titles with the same “scare factor.” While it makes your shudder, it also makes you think, and not just because the richness of Faulkner’s writing style. As I Lay Dying addresses the human psyche and questions of existence in a manner so understated and uncommon that it begs for days such as this – when thunderstorms drive us both inside our houses and, well, our minds.
As I Lay Dying by: William Faulkner
Joe’s pick (or picks – he cheated! I guess you can do that when you’re the boss):
Edgar Allen Poe
There are so many collected works of Edgar Allen Poe out there that you can’t go wrong choosing any of them to read, because they’ll contain the great favorites that all of us know, as well as some lesser known ones. One of the really wonderful things about reading Poe is that he wrote stories and poems in equal measure, and how many other authors about whom you can say that? As a matter of fact I recall reading once that “The Raven” remains, to this day, the most read poem in the world! Imagine that! But, of course, you’ll want to reread “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, and “The Pit and the Pendulum”, among his many stories. Switching over to the poems, in addition to “The Raven”, you’ll want to read, out loud, at least “The Bells” and “Annabel Lee”. What would a good autumn season be without an encounter with Edgar Allen Poe? After all, how many writers have a football team named after one of their poems?
Pet Sematary by: Stephen King
As soon as Fall hits, I’m ready to be scared. I like a book that keeps me reading until 2AM then has me hesitant to turn off my light and close my eyes. This is one of those books. Dark and evil with a slice of the unknown. I never saw the movie, but the book is certainly scary enough. What more could you want?
Scott Evan’s Pick:
Foxavier and Plinka by: Scott Evans (available on Amazon.com)
Foxavier and Plinka is a good fall read because Halloween plays a pivotal scene in the story. Candy Commercials and an obsession with dieting make this dark comedy about mental health a treat.
The Shadow of the Wind by: Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
I read this novel in an elated, altered state that only a few books, mostly childhood books, have managed to place me in. The kind of state where everything else in life disappears completely and all you can do is read this book. One lovely aspect of the book is the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge library of old, forgotten titles lovingly preserved by a select few initiates. Everyone initiated to this secret place is allowed to take one book from it and must protect it for life.
Kristen’s Pick (also a bit of a cheat):
I Capture the Castle by: Dodie Smith
Rebecca by: Daphne de Maurier
Fall is my very favorite time of year, but even so it can be difficult to forego the light and bright summer breeze for cool autumn winds. For those who just can’t let go of long days and sun-kissed toes, I recommend I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This coming of age story will allow you to bask in an August nostalgia for just a little while longer. For those ready to embrace fall (you who have already packed away your summer clothes to be embraced by heavy sweaters), I recommend Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier. This beautifully written novel is dark and consuming – perfect for curling up in bed with a hot cup of tea.
House of Leaves by: Mark Z. Danielewski.
The perfect book for the month of October, House of Leaves is a branched, twining and engulfing existential horror that will complete your month.
The Intuitionist by: Colson Whitehead
Picking one book for a fall pick is a challenge! I’m going to go with
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. With a strong female protagonist this intriguing novel enters the world of elevator inspection, delving into mystery, architectural metaphor, and racial structure —all in a fresh way. Most of all, this first novel of Colson Whitehead’s is beautifully written. Definitely worth snuggling up with on a chilly fall night!
To Kill a Mockingbird by: Harper Lee
An all-time classic which you can read in all four seasons! One of my favorites.
On behalf of everyone at Writers & Books, HAPPY FALL READING!