One of the best things about fall is all the wonderful new books coming out, wouldn’t you say? I would. I remember fondly the days of waiting impatiently for the new Elizabeth George to make an appearance. Or the new Margaret Atwood or P.D. James. Or Joanna Trollope, who used to be a big favourite of mine. I always had a fall reading wish list back in the day. Back before the internet. When we learned about new books from our favorite writers by scouring the new arrivals shelves in the bookstore or listening to CBC radio. Or in my case hearing about them from friends who read the Globe and Mail.
New books and fall has long been a thing for me. I recall back in 1999, Hubby and I postponed our tenth wedding anniversary celebration until September because we’d been travelling in July. We booked a weekend at Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park. After all, we’d spent part of our honeymoon on a canoe trip in the park, so this was a perfect anniversary celebration. Arowhon is a wonderful mix of rusticity and luxury. And the food is amazing. It suited us down to the ground. Particularly in September when it was lovely and quiet.
So on the crisp and sunny Saturday after we’d had lunch and then a paddle on the lake, Hubby decamped to our cabin for a snooze. And, clutching my book, I made for the wrap-around porch in the main lodge and the self-serve afternoon tea and hot scones. Ensconced in a big comfy chair, overlooking the lake and the single loon who occasionally floated by, tea cup and scone by my side, I cracked open the newest Elizabeth George novel and began reading. Sigh. “Does it get any better than this?” I thought. Ha. Not much, my friends, not much.
So what’s on my fall reading wish list this year? What will appease my reading appetite this season? My wish is for books that will fit my increasingly exacting requirements. Considering the mood I’m in this fall, I want books that are comforting but not too sentimental, challenging but not disturbing, entertaining without being silly, and enlightening without being supercilious.
I don’t want anything too romantic. I’m not just speaking of the romance genre here. Even some murder mysteries can be a tish too romantic for me. By too romantic I mean sappily and sloppily written. Books that make me cringe because of their sentimental style and cliché characters, or writers who over-egg the pudding with unnecessary detail or use five words when one will do. Or any book that depicts a male character with a strong jaw and a cleft chin. Ha. Having said all that I don’t consider Jane Austen to be too romantic… just romantic enough.
I want a book to make me feel as if I am somewhere else. Perhaps sitting on an overlook in Algonquin Park. Or setting out the wine glasses on a terrace in a hill town in Croatia after the rain has stopped. I love setting depiction, evocative description that transports me. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle gritty realism, but I want beauty as well. And at the moment I don’t want anything too dark. I seem temperamentally unable to handle books that engender a sense of hopelessness. Even if a friend tells me that a book will get more hopeful if I persist through the darkest chapters, I can’t do it anymore.
So what exactly IS on my fall reading wish list? Well, oddly enough considering my list of requirements, lots of murder mysteries.
I’ve already read and loved the newest mystery from Irish writer Dervla McTiernan. The Good Turn is the third of McTiernan’s detective Cormac Reilly series, set in Ireland. The Good Turn follows The Ruin and The Scholar. I really enjoyed all three books. Partly because so much of the action happens in Galway which we visited, and partly because McTiernan is a wonderful writer. Plus I just love books set in Ireland. Almost as much as books set in Yorkshire.
I’m about halfway through the second book in Ann Cleeves’ newest “Two Rivers” series. I liked the first book The Long Call, just not as much as the novels in her Vera or Shetland series. But this second book The Heron’s Cry is much better. I’m really enjoying it. Kind of gobbling it up, actually.
Next up for me will be Paula Hawkins’ A Slow Fire Burning. I’ve ordered it on Audible to listen to rather than read. I’m a little leery based on a couple of reviews I read, like this one in The Washington Post. But I did enjoy The Girl on the Train, or if not “enjoy” exactly, I couldn’t put it down. Apparently I’m not going to like the characters in Hawkins’ new book. But I’ve read a few books lately in which the characters were exasperating, and even deplorable, and the plot alone kept me reading.
I’m thinking of books by Louise Candlish. Those People and her latest The Other Passenger are masterpieces of human folly and stupid decision-making, but despite my eye-rolling and sighing over the actions of the characters I finished both books. I almost put The Other Passenger down at one point by I’m glad I didn’t. At least one character in the book gets his or her just desserts and recognizes that they deserve it. So mankind is not entirely doomed according to Ms. Candlish. And she can definitely construct a whirlwind of a plot, not filled with your usual thriller-type action, but with false leads and ironic, sucker-punch revelations. I’ll let you know how I get on with the Paula Hawkins book.
I’ve already pre-ordered a few books that I am impatient to read. The follow-up to Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club is due out at the end of September. Oh my, I loved that book. The plot, the characters, the humour… I loved all of it. And I can’t wait to read The Man Who Died Twice. Similarly I’m sure that Peter Lovesey will not let me down when I read his newest Peter Diamond mystery Diamond and the Eye which comes out in October. Totally fallible and always intrepid, Lovesey’s character Peter Diamond fills the hole left by the brilliant and often incorrigible Andy Dalziel, creation of the late (and sorely missed) Reginald Hill.
And just in case you thought I was going to live on a diet of mysteries alone, I await the next Elizabeth Strout book with impatience. O William! is out in October and follows up on her wonderful character Lucy Barton who we met in My Name is Lucy Barton, and saw briefly in Anything Is Possible. I loved both books. I remember retreating gratefully to the pages of Anything is Possible during one rather fraught visit to New Brunswick. Elizabeth Strout is a gifted writer.
Oh… and Elizabeth George has a new Lynley book coming in January. Maybe I’ll have it in time to take on our cross-country ski week next winter. I’m thinking that come late afternoon, all tired muscles from skiing and red-cheeked from the cold, I’ll retreat to my chair by the fire and crack open the new Elizabeth George book. Cup of tea by my side, Hubby snoozing in the bedroom. And maybe some scones if I’m very lucky.
So, that’s my fall reading wish list, folks. Books I am reading, books on deck, and books I am waiting to receive. Hopefully they will measure up to my new reading requirements. I didn’t mean to get so picky about my books. It just happened. I know that I toss aside worthy, well-respected books along with the unworthy ones. But that’s just the way I’m rolling these days.
I do hope that the books on my fall reading list transport me, entertain me, and go a little ways in helping me to regain my sense that the world is a kind and sensible place. And if they don’t, well, I can always reread Dorothy Whipple.
What’s on your fall reading wish list, my friends?
P.S. The book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.
P.P.S. Sorry this post is a day later than usual. I’ve been battling a killer sinus headache this week and a resurgence of my vertigo. As a result I’ve been listing when I walk and moaning a good deal. Poor Hubby. He didn’t realize he was marrying a dizzy blonde. 🙂