October has arrived and with it the promise of winter. We wake up in darkness, disbelieving that this gloomy moment is really the beginning of day. Gentle clouds of steam disperse into the air with every breath, as we make our way to work. Upon our return home in the evening we light some lamps and candles, and settle down in the comfort of our home. Autumn is the perfect time to curl up with a good book and forget all about the world outside. But there are some books that are particularly suited for this time of year. An autumn book should be dark but not depressing. The last thing one needs this time of year is a book about slavery or genocide. But a light cheerful holiday read is not quite the thing either. Here are my suggestions for what to read during the next few months:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is the perfect book to read on a dark autumn night, with the rain beating down outside your window. Find yourself a cozy corner and light a candle or two, and prepare to enter into the intriguing world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in 1940’s Barcelona. In this book you have everything you need for a long night of reading; a literary mystery and a love story set in a dark, somewhat gothic, atmosphere.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The strength of this book is definitely the mood and atmosphere. Do not start reading it expecting a fast-paced plot filled with dramatic magic duels. Do not even open it for the sake of particularly strong and complex characters. What you should expect is a magical world that makes you wish with all your heart that you could be there. And while you are reading, this wish almost comes true…
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke. This enormous tome is written in an old-fashioned style, reminiscent of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. Like The Night Circus this is a slow read, but in a very different way. The reason I chose this for an autumn read is because it combines a historical novel with a story about magic, which I think is a great combination during these dark days. And almost all of the story seems to take place during autumn.
The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. A quirky book about the magic land of Zamonia, where Optimus Yarnspinner (a dinosaur) travels to the City of Dreaming books to investigate the life of a mysterious writer. What follows is a darkly funny story involving an evil genius, catacombs, booklings and ruthless bookhunters to mention but a few of Moers’ creations. This will cheer you up on a dark evening and the pictures are great!
The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell. I could not resist adding a Scandinavian crime novel. Nordic noir is the perfect read if you prefer something a bit more realistic. In fact there are many to choose from, but a Wallander novel is always a safe bet for a quality read, and this one is particularly suited for the time of year with plenty of descriptions of gloomy weather. And the mystery will keep your thoughts away from the darkness outside your window.