What better way to spend a cosy autumn’s evening than curled up under a blanket with a warm drink and a good book? We’ve compiled a list of our book recommendations for the autumn season, with everything from spinetingling thrillers to humorous chick-lits!
Travel back in time this autumn with some recommended historical fiction reads from Hannah, our Programme Manager, and Vicki, our Programme Officer!
Hannah’s pick is Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. She says ‘I felt like I’d lived Demon’s life in a two-room trailer with the Appalachia mountains as the backdrop. He’s one of those protagonists who lives and grows with you—you just can’t help but love him. It’s not the usual Kingsolver read with sensual, earthy, biological themes running through it but there is still something uniquely connected and beautiful in how she presents the complex and intertwined injustices of poverty in modern America.’
Vicki would like to recommend Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh: ‘Historical fiction is my go to for the cooler months – all the better if it’s set in a time far away and intermingles with magical realism, witches, and strange goings-on. In recent years Hannah Kent and Kiran Millgrave-Harwood have been go-to choices for me, but I’m currently reading Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh. Set in a mediaeval village with an all-powerful overlord, aggressive religious practises, and women walking a perilous line with magic, we follow Marek, a strange peasant boy living alone on a sheep farm with his often violent father. It’s certainly on the darker side of historical fiction and the book is described as a gothic folk horror and does feature disturbing content – make sure to look up potential triggers before stepping into this one!‘
Mysteries and horror
In the mood for something more thrilling this spooky season? Halloween is the perfect time to get nose deep in a page-turning mystery or horror novel, and we have some recommendations which you won’t want to put down!
Rebecca, our Emerging Translator Mentorships Programme Manager, says: ‘For me, autumn is the season to courie in, either with a good book or TV programme on the sofa (Gilmore Girls, anyone?), or by rediscovering the cinema. With Camilla Grudova’s novel Children of Paradise, you get to do both: set in a dilapidated cinema in Edinburgh, it follows Holly as she joins a group of misfits who run and inhabit the Paradise, in a part true-to-life story of zero-hour precariat and scraping by, dirt and decay, part haunted house tale of a mysterious and macabre world. And if that makes you longing for more, also give Grudova’s short-story collection The Doll’s Alphabet a go; I, for my part, will be looking forward to her forthcoming collection The Coiled Serpent (out in November).’
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is recommended by Caitlin, our Communications & Participation Assistant. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming. ‘Filled to the brim with tension and unsettling revelations, definitely my favourite read from Flynn!‘
If you prefer non-fiction, Peggy, our CEO, has a recommendation which is perfect for autumn.
She recommends Upstream by Mary Oliver: ‘I love Mary in poetry and prose the whole year round, but there’s no book better than Upstream to remind us, on a dreich November day, that the world in all her weathers and seasons is full of wonder, intrigue and mystery. ‘For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.’ Amen, Mary! As I tramp Mousehold Heath in the deep drip of an autumn day, I carry her with me.‘
Friendships and relationships
If you’re looking for something heart warming, we have some book recommendations which explore the relationships of all forms; past and present, familial and romantic, failed and successful.
Caitlin is also recommending Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, because ‘who doesn’t love a bit of chick-lit?‘ The book follows a year of diary entries from Bridget as she navigates life as a thirty-something year-old living in London, and is an honest and hilarious exploration of relationships of all forms; familial, friendly and romantic.
Also set in London, bestselling author Cressida McLoughlin recently recommended London, With Love by Sarra Manning in her ten romance reads. She says ‘If you’re looking for an epic, across-the-years love story, then please read London, With Love. Jennifer and Nick meet when they’re teenagers and, while things are never straightforward between them, they are always drawn back to each other. London is the third main character, and I felt like I knew, and loved, unfamiliar parts of it by the end. Sarra’s books always floor me in the best possible way, and this one has some heart-rending twists that make for a properly emotional read.’
Myths and fairytales
To honour the liminality of Autumn, Freya, our Operations Officer, reverts to those timeless tales; either traditional folk fairytales.
This year she has been delving deep into Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, with a particular fondness for The Pomegranate Seeds; a retelling of the Greek myth about Persephone, who is kidnapped by Hades King of the Underworld, and whose mother, Demeter, the harvest-goddess who declares that nothing should grow on Earth until Persephone is returned. ‘I find the story such an embodiment of how this season straddles the in-between, where the abundance of early autumn perishes and we are thrown into the eery magic of late autumn, where the veil feels thin and the binaries of life and death, abundance and barrenness are in flux.‘
Already shopping for Christmas gifts?
Purchase a high-quality print (each one hand-made by Well Nice Prints, an independent printmaking studio in the city) featuring inspirational quotes from literary figures of Norwich, including Sir Thomas Browne, Julian of Norwich, and more!
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