8 Mar 2015

Autumn Reading

 I've seen a few lists of books people want to tackle over the summer on GoodReads. Summer is a great time to read (who am I kidding, any time is a great time to read): there's nothing better than sitting in the back yard, getting some vitamin D and reading a good book. However, I've found that sometimes my choice of reading material is affected by what the weather's like. When it's bright and sunny outside, I want something light and fun to read. When it's cold and rainy, I like to curl up in bed with a classic. Now that summer is over and the weather is cooling down, I made a list of book that are perfect for reading in autumn.


Persuasion by Jane Austen

 The Austenite in me wants to tell you that you should want to read Austen all the time, but her books suit certain seasons better than others. Emma, for example, is a summer book. The story revolves around a comedy of errors, and Emma is so charming. Pride and Prejudice is a spring book. Light, bright and sparkling, it's a story of (Elizabeth's) growth and change. Persuasion, though: Persuasion is an autumn book. The last novel completed before Austen's death - and published posthumously with Northanger Abbey - it is tinged with regret and is darker than Austen's other novels. I've always thought that Persuasion has a similar contextual framework to Pride and Prejudice, even though Wentworth and Anne are wildly different to Darcy and Elizabeth. Read Claire Tarlson's Jane Austen, Persuasion, and the Pursuit of Happiness - she gets it. More importantly, read Austen.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 

When I think of autumn, I think Gothic. Admittedly, this could have something to do with the Northern Hemisphere's autumn spanning September-November and all my American friends getting excited about Halloween and my mind somehow making a connection between Halloween and Gothic (while I'm talking about Americans and Halloween can someone please explain to me what a pumpkin spice latte is? WHAT IS PUMPKIN SPICE?). Jane Eyre is... Jane Eyre is a dark tale about one young woman's journey of personal growth. The heroine is one of the fiercest heroines in British literature, and a feminist icon. She refuses to compromise when it comes to her beliefs: she wants to live a life that is honest and true to herself, and I love that about her.  


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

There's something about this book... it's got such a heavy mood and sombre atmosphere that it just screams autumn reading (the film is quite a good adaptation, if you can get your hands on it: watch it!). The narrator is simultaneously emotionally raw and distant; his voice tinged with regret and and agony while consistently displaying devotion. It's such a haunting novel. 





Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway plans a party, Septimus Smith plans a death - you spend one day in the lives of these characters. Mrs Dalloway reflects on her life choices - her decision to sacrifice passion and adventure for security and tranquility. Septimus Smith, a veteran of WWI, is struggling with PTSD and has become trapped in his own mind. Living inside the minds of these characters - if only for a day - is fascinating, and even though they never meet, Woolf blends their stories together quite well. 


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar: a novel filled with dark humour, bleak truths and a story that really drives home what it is like to live with mental illness. Watching Esther fight with her inner demons and struggle to overcome her suffering was incredibly, incredibly harrowing - made even moreso by the fact that Esther Greenwood is really just Sylvia Plath's alter ego. Esther was also incredibly isolated, surrounded by people who didn't understand, but also didn't want to understand. I read this book again and again, but my favourite time to read it is in autumn. 



The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Helen Huntingdon is every bit as fierce as Jane Eyre and I love her for it.
She is determined to lead a better life than the one she's been given, and that her son will not follow in her husband's footsteps. She does not let anything stand in her way: not her abusive, cheating, constantly drunk husband; not the rules of her society; not the law. She raises herself above the gossip that follows her when she moves into Wildfell Hall, and while prickly at first, as her story unfolds she just wows me with her strength, determination and bravery. She's the true definition of a heroine. Anne is also the Brontë most likely to remind you of Austen - she really does include some biting social commentary, even if her wit wasn't as sharp as dear old Jane's.







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