A lot of things in life are seasonal. Take food for example. Specifically, Peeps. Peeps around Easter – acceptable. Peeps any other time of the year – unacceptable. The same holds true for beverages like Oktoberfest beer and eggnog.

They have their place on the calendar, and outside of that place, they feel wrong.

Books are no different. Books have a vibe about them. This vibe is created by a mix between the title, the
cover art, and the content. The old cliché is to “never judge a book by its cover,” but you totally should.

A lot of work goes into cover design to communicate to you, the potential reader, what lies beyond.

My wife is an avid reader and often organizes her reading schedule around the seasons. Some books are “Fall books” others are “Winter books.” Some will be saved for Spring, others for high Summer. I used to
be skeptical of this line of thought. After all, a book is a book, regardless of when it is read. Right? Wrong.

Think about that Peep. Nothing about the Peep has changed from late March to early July (thanks, preservatives), but if you pop that thing in your mouth during a 4th of July cookout, you know it is wrong. The experience just isn’t the same. The Peep itself is the same, but the circumstances around the Peep are out of whack.

The same holds true for books.

Life After Life

One of my favorite books of all time is “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson. It’s a compelling and thought-provoking piece of historical fiction that is 100% a “Winter book.” Everything about it feels wintry. The cover image is dark grey with bright pop of red. The main character is born on a snowy night in 1910, and a mood of general melancholy fills the book.

Could someone read this title in August and like it? Sure. Would they like it more if they read it in December? Absolutely.

Another example is “Circe” by Madeline Miller. This one is historical fantasy and features the lush landscapes of the ancient Greek world. It’s atmospheric, dramatic, and lyrical. It’s also a total “Summer book” in my mind. The experience of reading about the Mediterranean world is enhanced when the weather outside is nice and warm.

Plus, who wants to deal with sea monsters when it is cold or rainy outside?

I just happen to be writing this article on the first day of Fall. The perfect season for spooky stories.

The most recent issue of BookPage, a free magazine you can pick up at the library, offers plenty of “Halloween Reads.” Not all their recommendations, however, fit the traditional mold. For example, there’s some fun paranormal romances included such as “A Ghost in Shining Armor” and “Extra Witchy.” There are some horror titles included as well, like “House of Hunger” (spoiler alert, vampires).

During this season I gravitate toward dark fantasy, like “The Bone Houses” by Emily Lloyd Jones or “Nettle
& Bone” by T. Kingfisher. These books do a good job at replicating that “creepy walk in the woods” vibe.

You just know the books are set in Fall, even though the author doesn’t explicitly state that they are. Another one I highly recommend is “A Brief History of the Dead” by Kevin Brockmeier. If you can find a way to read that one while cozied up to a fire pit with some warm cider and flannel jacket…you are doing it right!

Happy reading.

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