Seasonal Reading – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

So here we are in September and most of my book groups have chosen ‘Back To School’ as the theme of the month. Again.

Back To School.

My daughter is an adult now and hasn’t presented me with grandchildren yet, although my stepsons have both become fathers this year. The relevant point being that school terms don’t affect my life beyond avoiding the roads twice a day during school run times and being aware of when the plague spawn, er, I mean school children are likely to be in the supermarket.

I quite enjoy reading holiday themed books for Halloween and Christmas, but there are many readers out here who don’t have school age children, just as there are many non-Americans who feel no connection to Thanksgiving or the fourth of July.

For some reason, Back To School still dominates even book groups who have a large percentage of readers in my age range for no other reason than it’s expected.

Enter Reddit to the rescue. I don’t actually participate on Reddit, but I’ve seen not one but two posts there requesting suggestions for Autumnal reading. What a wonderful idea!

The change of seasons is loaded with symbolism pertaining to life stages, embracing changes and a certain melancholy atmosphere that comes with colder weather and falling leaves. This is story fodder that anyone can relate to.

Naturally Autumnal reading will include some Halloween stories, though those become more prevalent in October. Similarly the school theme is ever prevalent. When I look on Goodreads for Autumnal reading suggestions, the first one on the list is Harry Potter, which follows Harry’s school years throughout the series.

However, the second top voted book is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Classics dominate the first page of this list, but I remember a definite feeling of Autumnal weather as part of the setting for this amazing story. It also makes a good lead-in to those October Halloween books.

Eventually the Classics give way to more recent stories with Autumn themes, ranging from scary stories to Romance and of course, Thanksgiving. The stories happen across the genre spectrum, but the point is, they don’t have to involve school, or Thanksgiving, or even the approach to Halloween. Autumn is a season that is easy to use for colour in a setting, for transitions in the plot and for a general mood.

Evocative writing can instil a feeling of the chill in the air or a gentle grief for things of the past. Poetry finds bittersweet sadness in Autumn leaves. The beauty of the colours in a changing forest or of crunching fallen leaves on a path can easily become as important as a character in a story.

Autumn invites the stories about rediscovered love with an old flame or acceptance of inevitable changes that might have presented challenges to a protagonist.

The possibilities are endless. What about you? Do you read with the seasons? What do you like to read in September?

Jaq D Hawkins

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