Cosy Afternoons- My Autumn Reading List

When I first drafted this reading list a few weeks ago it looked a little different. Initially the list consisted of a few old favourite -those remain in the list- and a number of books I’d seen reviewed in other blogs and vlogs. However something stayed my hand when it came to posting the blog; in truth it felt contrived and inauthentic – I’d gone looking for books instead of letting them find me. On our recent holiday in Shropshire our little explorations of the small towns yielded some amazing finds. Some came from charity shops and dedicated charity book shops, another from a book sale outside someone’s home and the rest from independent bookshops in Bishop’s Castle. There is much to said for letting books find you; it is joyous, serendipitous and immediate and exciting. Books are exciting and the choosing of them should be too.

With all that having being said, what lies below are my autumn treasures. Books to be savoured, while hot chocolate steams in a mug and a pumpkin candle burns.

A Poem for Every Autumn Day Edited by Allie Esiri

Kicking off on the first of September this volume of poetry presents a poem (sometimes two) for every day of the autumn season and ends on the 30th November. As I write this it is currently the 27th September and have been delighted with the selections so far. While some of the poems and poets are familiar there has been many that have been new to me. Particular favourites so far have been familiar and much loved works by Gerald Manley Hopkins ( Hurrahing in Harvest & Pied Beauty) and some new to me including; Talk us Through it, Charlotte by Alan Ahlberg and The Astrophysics Lesson by Ade Hall. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the remaining days has to offer.

The Core by Peter V Brett

As a lover of fantasy fiction Peter V. Brett’s Demon cycle -of which The Core is the final instalment- is, in conception and execution one of the finest I think I’ve ever read ( and I’ve read a lot). I starting re-reading the Demon Cycle in summer and am, as I write this about half way through The Core. At sundown everyday demons materialize out of the earth to earth to terrorize humanity; the novels chart the maturation of a number of characters who are instrumental in unifying humanity to fight back instead of cowering behind their protective wards. I have my Dad (also a massive fan of fantasy fiction) to thank for introducing me to these fab books. Thanks, Dad x

The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor

This was one of my charity bookshop finds whilst on my holidays. From across the room the cover and title spoke to me and by the time I’d read the jacket blurb I was completely smitten. The Way of the Hare examines ‘hares as they are and as we imagine them’, their molecular biology and biomechanical physics as well as folklore and myth. I love hares, I find them mesmerising and have had the good fortune to see one in the wild on a walk through the Wiltshire countryside. The sight of it is something I will never forget. I have a feeling this book is going to a gem and become a firm favourite.

Icelandic Journals by William Morris

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love William Morris. Something of a polymath, he wrote beautiful poetry and novels, inspiring political pieces, designed beautiful wallpapers and fabrics and many more things besides. These journals were written by him to document his travels to Iceland in the summers of 1771 and 1873. Morris was passionate about Icelandic sagas and the heroic tales were said to have very much inspired many of his works. Having read and loved a number of Morris’ late ‘fantasy’ novels it is very exciting to be able to read his own thoughts and experiences in the place that is said to have influenced them.

Smoke in the Lanes by Dominic Reeve

This is an old favourite and a lovely book to revisit; not least for having found a sublime edition from 1959 in the same charity book shop in Shropshire that I found The Way of the Hare. Smoke in the Lanes is Dominic Reeve’s reminiscences of Romani life in Britain during the 1950s. In many ways it is a love song to a way of life on the brink of vast change and for that reason it is one of the most beautifully poignant books I’ve ever read.

The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland by John Lewis Stempel

According to the jacket, this book is a ‘closely observed study of plants and animals that live in and under ploughland’; which sounds just perfect for reading on a cosy afternoon. Being a lover of the countryside, I feel that this book will be a wonderful read, if not a romanticised view of it, to some extent the poeticization of the landscape is the very thing that drew me to it. Sometimes we just need beauty and gentleness.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott &
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Neither of these novels need introduction or expansion on their themes. They are both among my all time favourites, they are beautiful, poetic, sometimes troubling, in places wholesome and above all completely wonderful.

On the Trail of Flora Thompson by John Owen Smith

Earlier this year I re-read Larkrise to Candleford which then led me on to read Flora Thompson’s final two semi autobiographical novels, Heatherley and Still Glides the Stream. Writing that is so intimately inspired by personal experience is always so engaging that I find myself wanting to know more about the places and people that inspired the narrative. I have a feeling that John Owen Smith’s book is going to be revelatory, intriguing and I expect may inspire some exploration of the Oxfordshire countryside of Flora Thompson’s youth and adulthood.

Ode to Flowers By Samuel Carr &
For The Train by Lewis Carroll

The final two books on my autumn reading list are both volumes of poetry. Ode to Flowers, is as one would expect from the title, a volume that celebrates the beauty and symbolism of flowers. I feel that this volume will be a lovely companion read to my activity of planting out spring bulbs in the coming weeks. For The Train; in addition to containing a number of poems by Lewis Carroll also contains the only known short story to have been written by him. I found this 1932 edition in a box of books outside a house in Clun, Shropshire which were being sold for charity. On the box was a note telling buyers to post the fee for purchases ‘through the letterbox of No 2. Both the whimsy of the book and method of purchase tickled me so how could I possibly leave it behind!

And there ends the list (for now); I may add a book here or there and would love any recommendations for further cosy autumn reads.

With love

Stella xxx

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