I read these stupid posts, from these blog sites who want to be real news, and every time I think to myself, “I can compile a list so much better than that!” Half of the books seem to be listed because they’re popular, not because of the subject matter, and it seems as though the author of the article hasn’t even read them. And the other half seem to come out of left field.
So here is my foray into the world. It could be horrible, it could be insightful, I just hope it inspires people to read some books that they might not have read before.
I’m choosing my top ten books to get in the spirit of Fall, mostly because it’s my favorite time of year, but also because of the broad range of books that will fit. This is the time of changing seasons, of baseball, of melancholy, of the beginning of school. This is the time where you take that last trip to that browning mid-west field, that last trip to the tire swing at the lake, before it gets just too cold. This is the time of year for nostalgia. These ten books will have some or all of these qualities.
10. “West of Here” by Jonathan Evison
This is a beautifully written novel portraying a life of the town Port Bonita. There is some jumping around between time frames, but you get the feeling of a wonderful Autumnal read. Broad sweeping landscapes including everything from watermills and flumes, starting from people trying to live a life in the old west, to the modern time and how people just want to disappear. The novel drips with nostalgia, and is a perfect read for early September, to get you in the mood to sit next to the fire and dream of the soft, colorful, chilly fall.
9. “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry
I don’t think this list could be complete without this epic western. Every time I drive through the country of California and see the broad waves of grain and browning fields, this novel always comes to mind. It’s about a cattle drive to the north, which starts in the late summer and goes through fall and into winter. There is death and despair, there are shootouts and classic western dialog, but this novel won a Pulitzer for a reason; it is a perfect slice of life of Americana, and it will bring you into Autumn.
8. “The Book of Lost Things” by John Connelly
I personally have to have a book on this list which has a bit of magical realism and a bit of fairy tale. This is a slightly tragic tale of a young boy who takes solace in his books, so much so that he is brought into them; into a sort of fairy tale land and has adventures. My first instinct in creating this list was to include “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, but I thought I could find a book that had that autumnal feel without going down an overused road, and “The Book of Lost Things” is it.
7. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt
This is the only non-fiction book on here, and where there could be some which are better, I cant think of a better setting to move into October and the fall, than Savannah. There is old magic in Savannah and that is part of this books charm. There is even a scene where the narrator heads into a cemetery and interviews (or tries to at least) a “witch woman”. Filled with intrigue and dripping with atmosphere, you cant go wrong with this one.
6. “Needful Things” by Stephen King
Yep, there is a bit of horror on this list, though this one I wouldn’t really consider all that scary. This is the “last Castle Rock story”, where the devil comes to Castle Rock and opens up a curio shop. This story is another that you can really curl up by a fire and get into fall. It’s a small town feel, with incredible description and unforgettable characters, then you have the magic of a curio store called, yep you guessed it, “Needful Things”, and if there was ever a secondhand store that didn’t have a nostalgic feel, I don’t know what does.
5. “Water for Elephants” By Sara Gruen
Train jumping, The Dust Bowl, a traveling circus and a tragic love story. This isn’t much more you need for a good Autumn book. The atmosphere is all consuming and the characters are full and lush and the story is beautiful. You can actually (figuratively) see the changing of the leaves while reading this one.
4. “Bethany’s Sin” By Robert McCammon
This one piggy backs the King book. It is the last horror story on the list. This is the story of small town. It’s beautiful, socked in by trees, the neighbors are nice and come to your doorstep with pies. This is the quintessential small town nostalgia, perfect for fall. On top of that it has all the hidden secrets and horrors that a small town needs to have to be a good autumn book. It all starts with the sounds of horses hooves pounding through the town at night…
3. “Old School” by Tobias Wolff
The easiest comparison to this novella would be to “The Dead Poets Society”. This book takes place in a preparatory academy, and really, what is a list about autumnal books without having a book about going to school? This is a beautiful and literary book and will only take you an afternoon to read it, but just wonderful.
2. “For the Love of the Game” by Michael Shaara
So if an Autumn list isn’t complete without a book about school, then it really isn’t complete without a book about baseball. This is a wonderful novella told through the course of one game. It tells of a lifetime of ups and downs. A life time of love and loss. A lifetime of baseball, and where we head into October and the playoffs, I cant think of a better book to read.
1. “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving
This had to be my number one book for a seasonal book. Even though the book takes place over a much longer time period than one season, there is such feeling and melancholy layered in this book. Apples are finally ripe in the fall and this book centers around an orphanage and a cider house. You can see the colors while you’re reading through the book and on top of that Irving has such a deft pen, that you get to know these characters like no other. This book is the ultimate and will get you in the spirit of fall.