Everybody has heard of a summer reading list. Most people spend their summer catching up on all the reading they’ve failed to do during the rest of the year. Which is amazing – our summer memories are speckled with stories from other lands and lives. Apart from the adventure of our summer holidays, we are adventuring in our imaginations for a double retreat from the reality of our daily lives.
Reading is so important – fiction especially – because it gives us other points of views and puts us in situations that otherwise we would never come across in our own lives. During the rest of the year, we get caught up in our monotony, and our lives get too busy, and reading is something we put on the back burner.
But summer’s over (sadly), and why stop escaping from reality? If you want to continue your escapist reading streak into the autumn, well here are some books for you!
Fantasy, dystopias… Here are a selection of my favourite books that feel set in autumn.
American Gods is an award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman, and if you love the book, Amazon Prime has also made it into a 3-season series with a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but as a book-lover, I highly suggest you read the book first!
Another fantastic fantasy is Dune by Frank Herbert. Written in the 1960’s, Dune served as inspiration for almost all of the science-fiction you know today. Star Wars and Star Trek were both inspired by Frank Herbert’s ground-breaking novel (and sequels), as well as Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. There are 6 novels in the original series written by Frank Herbert, but he died before he could finish the 7th. Luckily for us, his son took up the mantle and finished the 7th novel, as well as writing prequels and spin-off novels set in the same universe. Try and devour the first novel before the new movie comes out in November, starring Timothée Chalamet, Osaar Isaac, and our reigning queen of red carpet looks, Zendaya.
If you’ve ever read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series following Lyra, you’ll want to read his prequel series The Book of Dust. With two hefty books already released, and a third outstanding, you’ve got a lot of content to consume! And you’ll want to, because it’s just so good. Philip Pullman really knows how to torture you with a cliff-hanger, but that’s all I’ll say, because you’ll have to read it to find out…
These seven novels below are such great picks, and if you get really into them, there’s lots of extra reading (and watching) materials to take you further into their worlds… Why not pick up a book? Escape from your boring desk job, and the oncoming Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that autumn brings by going on a mental adventure. Some people call it not-dealing-with-your-own-problems, but I call it having-a-kickass-time-pretending-to-be-someone-else. Enjoy.
Image by Tim Hildebrant, 1981
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what - and who - it finds there...
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.
La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy...
Malcolm's father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust--and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; an Egyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl--just a baby--named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.
Mythos by Stephen Fry
Mythos is a modern collection of Greek myths, stylishly retold by legendary writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry. Fry transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder.
This stunning book features classical artwork inspired by the myths, as well as learned notes from the author. Each adventure is infused with Fry's distinctive wit, voice, and writing style. Connoisseurs of the Greek myths will appreciate this fresh-yet-reverential interpretation, while newcomers will feel welcome. Retellings brim with humor and emotion and offer rich cultural context
Celebrating the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, Mythos breathes life into ancient tales—from Pandora's box to Prometheus's fire.
This gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with the brilliant storyteller Stephen Fry as your guide.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." --Margaret Atwood
Dune by Frank Herbert
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for...
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
Milkman by Anna Burns
In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.
Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.