As the ever astute athenastudying on tumblr (AKA Meike) has recently reminded me, summer is coming to an end and with it any hopes of finishing my ambitious summer reading list. Though I am looking forward to sweating marginally less in the Berlin subway system and finally being able to break out my expansive turtleneck collection without seeming– ah what’s the word– ridiculous, I will now have significantly less time to read than I did this summer. On the bright side, I feel that many books are better read in the seasons to which they apply. If I’m going to read about foggy mornings and crisp air, I’d prefer to not be reading it while I sweat from my literal butt. So in the spirit of the changing of the seasons (Two Door Cinema Club please don’t sue), wrap yourself in a cable knit blanket, snort a pumpkin spice latte, and enjoy some autumnal reads that really bob my apples.
1. The History Boys by Alan Bennett
I’d be pretty remiss to not put my biggest literary obsession of the past year at the top of the list. This play by the British author and playwright Alan Bennett is practically winking up at you from the pages. The play focuses on a group of boys at a grammar school in the 80s preparing to apply to Oxford and Cambridge. The play features a cast of wonderfully lively characters, who are somehow both exaggerated caricatures and real people just about to burst around the corner of your school hallway. Beyond that, it provides insightful commentary on what it means to be an educated person, and whether academia helps or hinders us in getting there. The school setting, especially with the looming potential of Oxbridge, makes this play a definite fall read. For anyone who would’ve liked Dead Poets Society with more schoolboy antics (cough, and better writing) I couldn’t recommend anything higher. Except maybe that you also watch the movie that was made with the original cast, featuring a pre Mamma Mia Dominic Cooper and a mid Harry Potter Richard Griffiths. It’s a rare situation where I’d say watch it then read it. Regardless it’ll have you drinking tea and wearing wool socks in no time.
2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
At this point you may be wondering, does she just think anything that takes place in England is autumnal?, and look… facts, but I have good reasoning always. I’ve never been much of a horror fan in its written or cinematic form, in fact there is still a copy of the only Goosebumps I ever attempted to read sitting in my childhood closet where I threw it after it got too spooky for me. Despite my true crime obsession I’m not much of a detective novel girl either, but Sherlock Holmes has a certain undeniable charm. This charm may be largely due to the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew to resent his most popular character, even going so far as to kill him off only to be forced to bring him back due to public backlash (you can’t escape him Arthur). Any character who can become so annoying that even their creator wants them dead deserves some respect on their name. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is my favorite of the Sherlock Holmes series and lends itself well to this, the spookiest of all seasons.
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Speaking of people who come to want to murder their own creations, nothing says fall like some classic, gothic horror. If the title of a book is also an answer to the question, “What are you going as for Halloween this year?” it’s a pretty definitively fall-appropriate read. I know this goes against having just said that I don’t care for horror, but my justification is that it can’t scare me because it was written so long ago that Frankenstein is definitely dead by now. I personally take great joy in the introduction in which she repeatedly praises her husband Percy’s work, a fellow writer, and minimizes her own, but here we all are all these years later and everyone knows Frankenstein but nobody reads Percy Shelley. This book is perfect if you’d like to travel to earth’s end in the name of science and philosophy only to experience disastrous ends, but you also like to stay in bed. Thanks to Mary Shelley we can do both.
4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Wow I don’t even know how to begin to get into this one. I can’t talk about this book without saying that it is just from an aesthetic standpoint beautiful. The focus on colors, design, scenery, and overall effect on the viewer is pretty incomparable and for me outweighs the plot. Since I truly can’t capture the essence of this book nearly as well as the blurb on the back cover already has, I’ll just go ahead and quote, “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements proceed it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rȇves, and it is only open at night.” It’s the type of book I desperately want to walk around in. Yes, to be fair, it is definitely the most childish choice on this list and I thought the same when I first heard about it, but look: as the person who recommended it to me said, “Just read it.” This book is a steaming mug of spiced cider and a winding path into the woods, what more do you want.
That’s it for fog-and-marble-column-centric fiction for me. The links included in this post are all to copies of the books on amazon because I wanted the links to be internationally useful, but please check your local library and bookstore before using amazon always. I hope you enjoyed the list and check out some of the books mentioned if you haven’t before, or if you have read them tell me what you thought of them. Or let me know your own favorite fall reads. I’ve incidentally already read the ones mentioned here so I’d love some recommendations. Please submit any suggestions ASAP as I will be relocating to the depths of a corn maze for the entirety of fall.