I’ve decided autumn’s my favourite season.
I’ve had my suspicions for years. Let’s face it winter was never going to get a look in. Spring is a strong contender (see the cherry blossoms). Summers can be either epically wonderful or epically disappointing. But there is also something frenetic about summer – a pressure I put on myself to make the most of every moment and to soak up every last bit of sunshine.
Autumn is different. It encourages me to turn inwards, to luxuriate in choosing whether to pack my weekends to the rafters or choose to do almost nothing.
Normally autumn is tinged with the dreaded knowledge that winter is coming. And worse that we are approaching the darkest night – midwinter. But this year I am counting down the days until winter arrives and my and HWSNBN’s life changes forever.
So here’s to autumn. This is what I’ve been loving this autumn.
The golden hour in photography terms is the hour after dawn and before dusk when the light is at it’s softest and most flattering. At the moment almost every afternoon the light spills across the ground like golden syrup. It’s just beautiful.
Making a paleo friendly Pear and Five Spice Crumble from the ever reliable The Art of Eating Well
Trying and failing not to buy all the baby things on eBay. My parenting style was going to be minimal, damnit!
Embracing hygge by curling up under a mound full of blankets.
Dressing up and watching horror comedy mockumentaries for Halloween.
Working my way through my epic to be read pile. Five recommendations:
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.
I loved the descriptions of the Other London’s and of how magic worked. I want the sequel now, please.
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
I have always had an unhealthy obsession with post-apocalyptic tales and may or may not have read the Stand until the spine cracked. Station Eleven is a lyrically written beautiful novel. It flips back and forth in time between seemingly unrelated characters until the last pages when you finally realise the connections. Love.
3. The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Think MacGyver in space. It gets a little formulaic in places (things go well, an unexpected disaster happens, Watney science’s the shit out of stuff. Things go well). But it never stops the book from being gripping, funny and unputdownable.
4. Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.
Oh, I thought I was so clever.
But you probably already know that I’m not.
LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.
Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.
She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?
Sometimes you need the book equivalent of Big Mac. This book isn’t quite as bad as that – it’s very readable, the voice of the female antihero is very distinct and I didn’t put the final twist together. A lot of reviewers have compared it to
5. The Shepherds Crown by Terry Pratchett
A shivering of worlds.
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.
This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.
As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.
There will be a reckoning…
I have been ekeing out the pages because I knew it would be last Discworld book ever written. It feels appropriate that *spoiler* it covers the death of one of his most loved characters. One of Pratchett’s many legacies will be the way he humanised death as something not always to be afraid of. It made me cry in a good way.
Any book recommendations? Please let me know in the comments. I’m always on the hunt for new reads.
Planning which of the bonfire nights I will be going to. Yay for living in Sussex home of the pyromaniacs
Doing boring things like getting my car serviced and finally figuring out what that light was on the dashboard was. Aka: lots of things! Bye, bye money…
Bringing sunday walks back before the waddle kicks in. This weekend we went on a walk in the countryside and stopped off at a farm shop on the way back. I defy anybody to go into the farm shop and not come out with a basket full of ‘essentials.’
Taking endless photos of the leaves changing colour and the sky, the sky, the sky.
Thinking I’m a weirdo for my love of autumn? Let me know what your favourite season is and why in the comments.