Category Archives: Reading

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.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Doctor Worm Reviews

I love Ray Bradbury.

When he died, I put my head on my desk and wept. He’s one of the those writers, the kind of writer whose words are like having a conversation with your best friend. His books and stories are like being captured in a sudden sunshower, or watching the Perseids spark across midnight, or standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon on a blazing afternoon. He is fantastic and marvelous and awesome and wonderful, but in the deepest meaning of those words, where the fantastic soars beyond the mundane and marvels, full of awe and filled with wonder. He was a master storyteller, and a joyous dreamer, and a hopeful cynic. I love his books, and I return to them frequently.

Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorites. I named my dog Faber, after the retired English professor who explained the importance and necessity and meaning…

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On Serendipity (Or, You Can’t Force a Book)

Doctor Worm Reviews

I have several books on my reading list. Infinite Jest (which I may well get kung fu’ed in the face by the recommender for not reading yet), After Dark, Subliminal (which I actually started and have quite enjoyed, but non-fiction wasn’t doing it), Outliers (which I’ve wanted to read for a very long while), The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, 4:50 from Paddington, Vanity Fair, What Dreams May Come, Orcs, Bears, and Assholes (written by the incomparable Robert Bevan. Reviews forthcoming), et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. My book list fills me with glee. One of my greatest joys is knowing that there is always, and will always be, something else to read.

When I read more in paperback, I would buy new books and put them in a stack. The new books would remain in stack form, occasionally relocated to other parts of the…

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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Doctor Worm Reviews

I’d been wanting to read Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84for months when I finally bought it, on impulse, in paperback at Barnes and Noble. My proximity to the book was my downfall–it’s huge. It’s 1184 pages long (matching the title, but only in the English language edition. In Japan, the book was originally published as a trilogy. I have no idea why the English language edition collapsed all three books into one volume). And I love big books. I love the feeling that I have a book that will never end, that I can get really, deeply lost in the pages, that I will be able to pick it up again and again and be consumed by language for weeks. Kindle edition be damned–the reassuring weight of a gigantic book lets you know that you’ll have time to dream, absorb, leave, return, ruminate, sip coffee, walk the dog, stare at the…

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (all 12 feet of it)

Doctor Worm Reviews

It seems that in London a 12 foot statue of Colin Firth now emerges from a lake in Hyde Park to commemorate a scene from the BBC mini-series adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

I cannot stop laughing.

The somewhat menacing statue of Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth, and posed in a scene that is not in the text of the novel, is clearly absurd. And because I greatly like both absurdism and Jane Austen, I rather adore this bizarre and unsightly homage to Pride and Prejudice, even though it seems more like it’s an homage to Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which is cute, funny, and trendy. A good pulp read, particularly for the absurd juxtaposition of Austen and zombies. Do not expect anything like Austen’s wit, which was replaced almost entirely with ninjas.).

The reason I adore this statue is because…

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How to Worry Less About Money by John Armstrong

Doctor Worm Reviews

I realize that this is an odd choice for my first book review–my first “real” blog post, even–but there’s a very good reason for it. I chose this book because it’s summer. A very sodden, grey, sunless, chilly summer here in the deep South, where it was a blinding 107 degrees this time last year. And if there is anything I want to do when it’s rainy, it’s read. And in order to read, I buy books.

I buy a LOT of books. Kindle Daily Deals are my kryptonite. What’s $2.99, right? I gave away seven or eight boxes of books when I moved last year. And I still hoard them and buy them in electronic and paper formats. Even though I finally got a library card where I now live, I still can’t stop spending money on books. And film. And thread. But mostly books. My middle name? It’s…

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