September 3, 2013
Seven books for autumn reading
by Nick Davies
With Labor Day behind us, the time has come to say a mournful farewell to summer. Fold up your beach towels, put away the margarita glasses, and put your beach reads back on the shelf. It’s time instead to curl up with a cup of warm cider or tea and a book befitting the cool weather that will (God willing) be here any day now. Check out the slideshow below for seven classics to enjoy amidst the changing leaves and spooky Halloween atmosphere.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
This gothic nonfiction book about murder in Georgia makes a great transition from summer to fall. Set against the backdrop of Savannah, the setting is balmy enough to help you ease out of the dog days of summer. Meanwhile, the dark tale of murder and central role of Bonaventure Cemetery will give you enough chills to get into the autumn spirit. The drag queen Lady Chablis is, of course, appropriate and entertaining in all seasons.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
The story of the Headless Horseman is a quintessential autumn book. A ghost story set amid the foliage of the Hudson Valley, its climactic episode takes place during a harvest festival. Bonus points awarded for the involvement of a pumpkin.
Any Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter books combine two aspects of the childhood fall experience—obviously, it has all the spooky elements of a good Halloween, with magic, ghosts, and monsters. But each installment also opens with a back-to-school sequence as the young witches and wizards descend upon Hogwarts, a strange place that’s nonetheless home to the familiar phenomena of reuniting with old friends and rivals at school after summer has passed.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
This one has cider right in the title, and an orchard where people spend time picking apples. How could it NOT be perfect for fall? Seriously, though, Irving’s novel about an orphanage run by a doctor who also secretly performs abortions is an engrossing read, perfect for sitting by the fire.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare didn’t make this as easy as he did with plays that fit into other seasons—A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale. But between the witches and spooks and the gloomy Scottish setting, it’s a great choice for a chilly night.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Less well known than Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, this first book of hers tells the story of her childhood in a cabin in Wisconsin. A glimpse of pioneer life in the 19th century, a good deal of it centers around the family’s preparations for winter, including harvesting sap to make maple syrup and candy.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Christie is well known for her “cozy” mysteries, and while this novel doesn’t quite fit the Miss Marple mold, it’s terrific escapism for days when the weather gets cool. Settle in with a cup of tea (and maybe splash some brandy in there; that seems like something Christie or her characters would condone, doesn’t it?) on an autumn afternoon with this one.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.