Fall, Work, and Books!

Although the weather is holding on tight to the temperatures of summer, it is technically fall. I love fall. I like sweaters, hot drinks, and prefer wearing boots over sneakers any day. The thought of cool breezes and colorful leaves has sustained me these last few weeks while I’ve been job hunting. Fellow 2016 graduates, how has the process been for you? I’ve been applying to a mix of local part-time work and industry jobs a few states away.  I don’t have anything lined up yet, but I’m working on it!

Since college ended, I’ve been trying to pick up my reading. While in school, I often found myself too burnt out on texts for classes to do any recreational reading on the side. But this time of year used to be great for me and reading. While in grade and high school, I had a commute by school bus, so I often spent the time reading as I traveled. And around the time of Halloween, I would gravitate towards fantasy tales, whether they were scary stories(not often,) or stories with magical settings. To that end, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite books for the early fall season, to give you and I some inspiration for reading.

1. Books about Magic, Witches, and Wizards

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the early fall season is the perfect time for stories about spells, powers, and the mischief they can cause. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is what first comes to mind. (I’m ashamed to admit that it has been a few years since I’ve reread any of the books.) But a different favorite book of mine is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. The protagonist, Sophie, has been turned into an old lady by a witch. Sophie must take up residence with the not-actually-scary Wizard Howl as his cleaning lady, in the hopes she can find a way to break her curse. (It is also a Studio Ghibli movie by the same name, but the plots diverge significantly, so even if you have seen the movie, the book is worth reading!)

2. Books about Vampires

In high school, I was thrilled when I heard that vampires were becoming popular due to a book called Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I then read Twilight… and was both fascinated and horrified by the novel and subsequent series and films.* At any rate, this is usually the time of year I consider pulling out the Twilight books and skimming them for the parts I enjoyed describing in detail with an incredulous look on my face sharing with my friends. Anyway, a different young adult book about vampires that I have enjoyed is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. In this world, vampires are confined to places called Coldtowns, but there is a national fascination with the places due to people who explore the areas and post about it online. For some short, spooky and sad stories about vampires, I recommend Vampires: A Collection of Original Stories edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg.

3. Books about Fairies

Ignoring Disney’s versions, fairies are often horrible and tricky creatures. Depending on what fairy lore you’re reading about, fairies might lure humans to their world, find power in knowing someone’s full name, and have an aversion to iron. I found out about some of these traditional fairy superstitions while reading another young adult book by Holly Black called Tithe. I was in high school at the time, and perhaps a little unready for some of the themes of the book,(depression, murder…) but really enjoyed the captivating story. Since then, I’ve been interested in stories where fairies follow the old lore, which leads me to…

4. Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Books Based on Them

I’ve mentioned them before, but if you can get your hands on some traditional fairy tales such as the ones recorded by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, you have some excellent fall reading. Local folklore stories, or folklore stories related to a place you like are other great things to read around this time of year. And from there, novels that are based on folklore are excellent too. I recommend Uprooted by Naomi Novik for a tale with Polish folklore influences.

5. Books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I mention these two authors in a category all their own because A) their works span the other 4 categories listed and I was too indecisive to just choose a book or two by each of them and B) they’ve written a book together called Good Omens that I wanted to recommend. (I recommend it, it’s about an angel, a demon and the end of the world.) I can’t really do them justice in describing how interesting the books by these authors are. Terry Pratchett wrote a multivolume fantasy series called Discworld, of which I’ve sadly only read a few books. His narrators are witty and have a sense of breaking the fourth wall that I enjoy.** Neil Gaiman tends to stick to single book fantasy tales or very short series. They can be very British at times, which works for me. For a tale set in London and magical London, I recommend Neverwhere.  Anyway, any story by these two is bound to be a good read.

My plans for my fall reading are to start with a book I got out from the library, A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. Then I might reread Terry Pratchett’ s The Wee Fee Men, which is the beginning of the Tiffany Aching subseries set in Discworld, named for the books’ protagonist. I bought book 2, A Hat Full of Sky, over the summer, but I need a refresher on what took place in book 1. I’ve also read halfway through Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and would like to finish it during the fall season. What do you think you’ll be reading over the next few weeks?

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*I admire what the Twilight series did for reading, although it is problematic in many ways. I might write a future post about what the series means to me, so stay tuned!

** They also have footnotes. I like footnotes, in case you couldn’t tell.

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