20 Atmospheric Autumn Reads for Adults

…(An Alliterative Appellation)

…(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.)

Hello fellow readers, and happy October! Something about Autumn, I think, is especially appealing to literary folk. C’mon: some adventurous novels, blue skies, chilly air?

OR

Dark, rainy nights, pumpkin spice candles, and a glass of Merlot served alongside mysterious and chilling tales?

You guys know what I’m talking about.

‘Tis the reading season. 

Recently, I comprised a list of autumn reads for teens for Hip Homeschool moms.

(You can read that one on their Website, here.)

When I shared the list with a friend, she asked me what my autumn book list would be for adults. While all of the classics from my teen list would remain, there are also some fall-ish novels that I love but wouldn’t feel comfortable openly recommending for YA readers.  Then, of course, there are the books that I have yet to read, but which are on my personal to-read list for this autumn!

So, without further do, here’s my list of 20 Atmospheric Autumn Reads for Adults.

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Autumn Classics (These are for Pretty Much Everyone.)

1.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- a unique heroine,  a mansion with a dark secret, the test of love between two passionate souls, and a touch of magical realism that seems unique to the setting of North England. Jane Eyre is of my favorites anytime, but especially in fall and winter.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte– Those Bronte sisters really knew how to        weave together the feelings of a conflicted heart alongside the mystery of the English moors.  Oh, Heathcliff—in high school I loved you, and as an adult I love to hate you. I still read about you and Cathy every year, though; your tortured and unhealthy relationship is undeniably haunting.

3.  Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier–  Again with that Cornish setting. But can anyone argue that the misty moors and the roar of the cold English ocean is just plain exciting and mysterious and lends itself so completely to thrilling and slightly spooky stories like Du Maurier’s Rebecca?  Okay, no arguments? Good.

4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith- An uber cozy 1930s account of an English girl who aspires to be a writer and chronicles the eccentric characters and happenings around her. Yes, I know–another British one. *Anglophile alert*

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Hey, it’s an actual American novel (Arguably one of THE American novels.) Gatsby is another favorite novel of mine anytime of the year, and it’s arguably a perfect summer OR autumn read. The thrilling roar of summertime and its dreams takes up most of the book’s premise, but the momentum leads to the fateful first fall of the leaves…the end of summer and its illusions (and delusions).

Autumn YA Novels that Adults Will Enjoy Too

(Because Adults Actually Read Just as Many YA Novels As Teens Do)

6. Shiver (and Wolves of Mercy Falls Series) by Maggie Stiefvater –Not just another paranormal werewolf romance story. This New York Times Bestselling Author totally gets the raw emotions of first love. It’s a sweet and beautifully melancholy story.

7. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare- You know that metallic, green book you’ve seen at Target with the washboard bare torso of a young guy on the cover? Yes, I’m actually putting that book (and the rest of the series) on my list as  guilty pleasure-reads for autumn. I’m not sure who was in charge of marketing/cover layouts, but The Mortal Instruments is only slightly about dudes with abs. It’s a fun supernatural series with lots of action and witty banter: a fun series for some bathtub reading on a chilly day.

8. Wintersong by S. Jae. Jones- Labyrinth meets Phantom of the Opera! I actually reviewed this one here. It’s a dark fairy-tale that fantasy lovers will gobble up.

9. The Diviners by Libba Bray- I’m actually reading this one right now: 1920s Manhattan, mysterious murders, a plucky flapper heroine, supernatural bumps in the night. Libba Bray is a great writer, and this book is actually pretty darn creepy for a YA novel. The characters are very teenager-ly…but the story is pretty adult (kind of like her Gemma Doyle series).

10. Warm Bodies by Issac Marion- Just your typical little post-apocalyptic  love story/comedy/commentary on human nature (narrated by a Zombie.) Whatever.

11. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King – While not technically written for a Young Adult audience, this story is definitely appealing/appropriate for teens or adults. It’s a super cozy and engaging introduction to King’s Beekeeper series, which follows a retired Sherlock Holmes and the bright, young woman who becomes his assistant.

12. THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J. K. Rowling- If you haven’t read Harry Potter then you should. It’s okay to re-read it whenever you want, especially in fall. That’s all I have to say about that.

Not Your Kiddo’s Halloween Booklist (I think the category speaks for itself)

12. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman- A lyrically written account of two magical sisters facing down a family curse and a dead guy in the backyard.  Different from the movie (though I like both).

13. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon- Sweeping and kind of steamy historical/romance/adventure/quasi-fantasy that you’ve all probably heard of (because, you know, Starz). Because there’s some rough stuff in it, I don’t recommend Outlander to everyone, even though I personally have enjoyed what I’ve read of the series. The first books starts out with Clare stepping through standing stones in the Highlands during the feast of Samhain (Gaelic Halloween), which is one of the things that makes the first novel of this series a great October read.

14. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman– A profound, weird, creepy, adult collection of fantastical short stories. A dash of spooky and a dollop of thoughtfulness.

15. Dead Before Dawn (A Sookie Stackhouse novel) Charlaine Harris- A Cajun-infused chick-lit romance/ blood-and-gore/ mystery/ vampire novel. A little bit of a guilty pleasure but super fun (and amazingly successful given the amount of genre crossover).

16. Interview with the Vampire by Ann Rice- Arguably the most iconic vampire novel since Dracula. It’s fascinating and dark and compelling.

Books on my To-Read List This Season

17. Dracula by Bram Stoker- (I realize that it’s crazy that I’ve never read this).

18. Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman-this prequel to Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic  just came out! Pre-ordered on Kindle and can’t wait to read it!

19. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke– I started this beautifully cozy, slightly creepy,  historical fantasy last fall and somehow fell out of reading it.

20. Something by Stephen KingWhat’s a great first read by Stephen King???

(Guys, don’t kill me for having never read Stephen King). 

There are so many books springing to mind now that I’m calling this list “done.” However, 20 seems like a good place for me to stop…for now. How about you? What are some books that scream autumnal, Halloweenish mystery to you?

I look forward to hearing about them!

-Katie

 

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Your Last Autumn

It drifted in twirling pathways

Of deep grey rain and golden sunbursts

On the mountains

–Your last autumn.

Anxious finches, the rustling light on leaves.

The world in memory. The world in preparation.

Only in Fall

Can the world be angled so differently.

Your eyes were a cerulean blue,

Like the sky,

Your last autumn.

I wonder what moments were focused in those lenses.

Crinkly-smile lines and warm sweater hugs?

The final leaf falls, in a sigh.

But now it is some other Fall,

And I see grays and golds

And blues

And you.

-Kathryn Gustafson, 2016

The Power of Nerd Awe

Awe: a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

Nerds have a great deal of awe. In fact, nerds have a special kind of awe, different from the awe of others.

It is this Nerd Awe that gives the Nerd his power.  It’s an energy field created by all epic things. It surrounds us literature and film lovers and binds us together, connecting our mundane and fantastical worlds.

Do you have this great power in YOU?

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Ponder these things in your heart,  and you will know the answer.

Have you ever stayed up until the early hours of the morning with a book…Eyes heavy with fatigue, heart racing with adrenaline? You know that, if you fall asleep, they may never find the final Horcrux.

Have you ever felt tingles down your spine as you listen to a John Williams score, overwhelmed by the complicated emotions brought on by the Force?

Have you ever been filled with joy, smiling to yourself like a moron, over the typed words on a page, the scene from a film, that reminds you that friendship is so much more than text messages or hangouts? True friendship, you realize, goes to Mount Doom and Back Again, no matter the consequences.

Have you ever read a line from a book and felt like dancing up and down: “Someone else understands! Somebody gets it, and they said it better than I ever even thought to think it.”

Do you ever listen to music and daydream that you are fighting an army (zombies, orcs, wizards, etc) and totally killing it? (Be honest, now.)

Have you ever tried to use a superpower that maybe, just maybe you actually have, but you just have to believe it enough?

Do you ever get goosebumps from a feeling that you can’t quite describe, a sensation connected to the rediscovery of an alternate view of the world…and world of ancient, long-forgotten binaries:  good versus evil, right versus wrong, what we can do and what we must do.

Do all of these things inspire you? To read. To write. To travel. To make deep friendships. To have adventures?

If you know these things to be true, then wield the mighty power of Nerd Awe well, and you could change the world. 

Just remember, my fellow Nerds: with great power comes great responsibility.

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“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

-John Green

Spring in Mississippi

In case you didn’t know, Groundhog’s Day was this week.

And Puck-satanu…PUSUTO (Googling this)… Punxsutawney Phil  has declared an early spring.  Does anyone else ever feel like this happens very rarely? For years and years and years, it was just those extra weeks of cold. There’s probably a scientific reason for this that I learned once-upon-a-time, but while I can make myself Google the correct spelling of a groundhog’s proper name, I don’t really feel like mustering up the energy to remember how the seasons work right now. Deal with it.

I’m happy about an early spring, even though it’s not my very favorite  season (autumn is, on strict principal)…. Growing up in the North Georgia mountains, surrounded by trees and a big, beautiful lake, autumn was a signal of adventure. It wasn’t just the crisp chill in the air, the smell of campfire smoke or the fiery leaves, either. Autumn was the time we went camping, autumn was when we could take a break to go meet my grandparents in a cabin in the mountains for our annual, special get-together. I miss autumn in the mountains.

Right now, however, I live in Mississippi. And Mississippi’s Queen of the Seasons is undoubtedly Spring.

The light here changes, illuminating the numerous old gray barns and buildings.  In winter they are old and worn-out, in summer they are white-washed harshly, seeming unfriendly. In the spring, the gold touches them, hinting at their history, their magic. In spring all old things are brought to life again; they have transcended through time, and been born anew.

Mornings of a hundred years ago are freshly evoked: the smell of warm, damp grass and hay, the sunshine on dew-drops in the green fields, and the soothing saltiness of the air that only comes with being not far from the coast.

There is a lush, floral scent, too, hanging on every bush and tree. Gardenias and azaleas mostly, I think, but dozens of other flowers chime in with their own accent fragrances.

For me, there are also the memories of Mississippi springs from my growing up years. The trips we took to visit family for so many years on warm, balmy vacations, the Easters with cousins, running around in gardens, the family meals and something special in the true closeness with these people we only saw a few times a year.

Now I live here, as a grown-up in a whole different place of life. I have that closeness, but it is different now. So many things have changed since then, and the memories I share with my family is mingled with loss and newness and love and freshly found relationships.

Spring, I think, will embrace these changes, because it is, itself, always reminiscent, and always new.

So I’m waiting on the flowers to bloom in the front yard, for the day I can pull my shorts and flip-flops out of storage, for sitting on the porch and inhaling that sweet, country breeze that carries with it the love of a hundred Mississippi springs before this one.

 

 

Big and Small

We go to bed early, the windows thrust open to let in the night music: cicadas, frogs, the distant war-call of coyotes and foxes. Because we live at the end of the road, at the end of the world, we hear it all. Our bed is pushed up to the large window, so we balance on our knees (like children) and crane our necks, heads tilted upward at the stars. No other lights for miles around.

A howl bursts through the edge of the woods and we jump. Then giggle. Then sit back and just look. Continue reading “Big and Small”