To me, fall evokes hiking in the brisk air then coming inside to cozy up with a good book. As a big mood reader, the books that feel out of place for reading on the beach are just right once cooler weather starts.
One of my favorite categories of fall books is gothic reads. The Bronte sisters are great to pick up during this season. Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” starts with young Jane hiding behind the curtains with a book because the weather is too dreary for a walk. Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” features windswept moors, moody characters and ghosts from the past. If you haven’t read “Rebecca” or “Jamaica Inn” by Daphne du Maurier, both are atmospheric classics of gothic suspense. “Rebecca”’s famous first line “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” immediately throws me back into this story of an unnamed narrator who marries a wealthy widower and moves into his mansion on the Cornish coast only to discover that his previous wife’s spirit is dogging her steps. “Jamaica Inn” features a young woman trying to honor her mother’s dying request by going to live with her aunt and uncle in their lonely inn. She quickly discovers that something dark and illegal is going on. A good nonfiction pairing for these gothic reads would be “The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem” by Stacy Schiff. Schiff makes the Salem witch trials come to life; this book is great on audio.
A book series that feels unmistakably fall and cozy to me is Louise Penny’s “Armand Gamache” series. These are great for fall through winter. Many of the books are set in the atmospheric little Canadian town of Three Pines. The charming townspeople, bistros, and Penny’s descriptions of the delicious French food are what make these books so delightful during cooler months. They should be read in order to avoid spoilers, although admittedly the first three books are a little slow. Armand Gamache is chief inspector of homicide in Quebec, and while there’s always a mystery to solve, these books don’t contain gratuitous amounts of violence or gore. The series really hits its stride in book four and Penny just released book 17, “The Madness of Crowds,” last month, so you’ll have a lot of reading ahead of you. This series is exceptional on audio.
While beach reads are known for their quick pace, I sometimes like to read quieter books in the fall. “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles is on my list of all time favorite books. Towles immerses you in the life of a rich Russian count who has been spared the firing squad during the Bolshevik Revolution, but is sentenced to house arrest. The Count lives in the Metropol, a grand hotel in Moscow. You follow the Count over decades of his life as he watches the world pass by outside his hotel doors, and discovers new depths in his limited surroundings. Amor Towles has a book coming out next month called “The Lincoln Highway” that is sure to be one of fall’s most buzzed about books.
I’ve been trying to mix poetry into my rotation each season. Mary Oliver appeals to me year round, although reading her in the fall makes me yearn for summer days and the beach. I am especially enjoying “Devotions,” a posthumous collection of select poems from each of her previously published books. Robert Frost is another fall favorite, well known for his poems about the woods. Michael Kleber-Digg’s new book “Worldly Things,” features timely poems about family and race that make you stop and think. It is a great collection to dip into.
If you’d like to read a book this fall and discuss it with others, you can pick up one of the library’s book club selections. Library Book Club is discussing “There There” by Tommy Orange on Monday, October 11 at 6:30 p.m. Social Justice Book Club will talk about “This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving” by David J. Silverman on Wednesday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. Every season is better with good books and good conversation.
Katelyn Boyer is the Adult Services Librarian at the Fergus Falls Public Library.