Autumn, Leaves, and Leaves

Different books are particularly suited to different weathers.

Take Gabriel Garcia Marquez for example. He’s the perfect writer for summer, especially summer in Atlanta. His lush descriptions shimmer in the air like heat radiating off asphalt. Few things in life give me as much pleasure as reading Love in the Time of Cholera in July.

Except, of course, reading in fall. I love reading in fall. I love the word “fall” for autumn, and it’s connotations of falling, and the immediate associative leap that I make to falling in love. Reading is falling in love. Falling leaves, falling in love, the leaves of a book, turning leaves, red trees and the smell of cinnamon everywhere like handfuls of cinnamon hearts.

Autumn is fall is love is books. This is the only real math I’ve ever known.

Robertson Davies is an excellent autumn author. A Canadian university professor, autumn falls frequently through his books. As all academics know, fall is a crucial time, because suddenly the campus swarms with students, life begins again, and daydreaming and musing is abruptly replaced with grading. (Although, to be honest, this is really a picture of academia 40 years ago. Not enough academics daydream today–there’s no time allotted for it.) Davies has a dry wit that crackles throughout his pages like leaves underfoot. Leaven Malice would be my top choice for fall. Never mind that it’s the second book in a trilogy; Davies’ trilogies tend to be different angles of a town or a group of people. You can start here without worry. (But you really should read the other books of the Salterton Trilogy: Tempest-Tost and A Mixture of Frailties. This may be my favorite Davies trilogy.)

More recently, Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife reads like fall to me, because it’s a story that unfolds and turns and evokes, like the season itself. Her writing is lush and evocative, like Marquez, but with less bananas.

Anything by Ray Bradbury makes for excellent fall reading, and I never miss the chance to re-read Fahrenheit 451. But of particularly appropriateness to October is Something Wicked This Way Comes. If you’ve never read it, or if you’re never read it in October, then you’ll need to pick up some Halloween candy before you start (at least a whole bag of pumpkin candy corn, and ideally another whole bag of associated and sundry sugary fun-sized magic, that also includes chocolate).

To mix up our genres a bit, I would also add Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, which I dearly love (almost as much as Eleanor and Park), because she wrote it for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those unfamiliar, which is in November). The book also revolves around starting college, so fall is most certainly a backdrop.

Graphic novel-wise, I recommend Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta because fall is frequently political, what with elections and all, and so a graphic novel about political oppression seems particularly relevant.

And finally, I would recommend Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Not just because it’s fall reading, necessarily, but also because the movie is coming out in December, and you’ll need to read the book before everyone starts talking about the movie and spoils everything for you. It’s an excellent book. Wild is Strayed’s memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, with no real prior of knowledge, in order to overcome profound loss and become who she is. Her story resonates, fallishly and deliciously.

Hopefully, that’s enough reading to get the season started. I’ll be reading incessantly and taking pictures of trees for the next few months, probably with an inevitable Pumpkin Spice Latte or two in hand, and leaving the leaves on the lawn because I like the way they crunch when I walk through them.



3 thoughts on “Autumn, Leaves, and Leaves

    1. V. Willis Post author

      Yes!! I kept thinking about Dandelion Wine, actually, and how it’s been such a long time since I’ve read that one. If I can hold out until February, maybe I’ll read it then, to make the winter seem less long. 😉


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