By Georgia Rowe, Opinion Digital Editor
Now autumn has finally brought its vibrant hues and we edge closer to the biting chill of winter, we might all benefit from a more relaxed read to bring in these darker evenings. I’ve curated a selection of my favourites for this time of the year – a mix of comforting, captivating, and diverting reads. Perfect company for the upcoming exam season, whether you need a soothing escape or a quick distraction between study sessions.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (2020)
Reading this as I did over the summer, I couldn’t help but think how appropriate it was as an autumnal read. Laced with intricate descriptions of labyrinthine halls, mysterious weather phenomena, and an atmosphere thick with distrust and speculation, 2021 Women’s Prize Winner Clarke, through the faithful Piranesi, invites readers on a magic-realism journey through lands unfamiliar to us. It is a puzzling story, a mystery novel at heart, but one impossible to set aside. Perfect, I think, for a snug evening spent in solitary literary bliss.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (2014)
Nearing 700 pages, Dicker’s novel may seem like a literary mountain at first but fear not - the never-ending mystery he whips you through makes it a quicker read than most classic novellas. We shadow the writer Marcus Goldman, gleaning his observations of Harry Quebert and his ties to the mystery of missing Nola. Just when you think you’ve unravelled the mystery or can confidently predict ‘whodunnit’, Dicker stuns you with even more intricacies and layers. It is a wonderfully enticing and complex book following a mystery in a small town. And if you’re up for rounding off this reading experience in style, the TV series, featuring the charming Patrick Dempsey as the titular character, is similarly fabulous.
The Complete Short Stories by Roald Dahl (2013)
Onto something much shorter. Over the span of his lengthy career, Dahl crafted a treasure trove of short stories, of which Penguin have collected over two volumes for us to enjoy now. The short story format itself is a wonderful way of getting in your reading when time is of the essence. Some are funny, some heart-breaking but all delivered in Dahl’s signature, well-loved voice. These are a fantastic way of introducing yourself to some of Dahl’s more mature works.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (2018)
If you are at all into your reading, I’m sure this title has not failed to escape your attention in recent years, and for good reason. It follows a young woman in New York City who decides to take a year off from her life. The novel explores themes of escapism, mental health, alienation, and the pursuit of meaning in our modern world. It is commendable for its realness, and perhaps comforting, in a different sense of the word, for those finding themselves nearing that post-graduate panic of ‘what next?’.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)
On the other end of the genre spectrum, what I believe to be Wyndham’s magnum opus, The Chrysalids is a post-apocalyptic novel revolving around the young David, endowed with telepathic abilities, living in a society relentless in its determination to suppress anything deemed different. This novel has the capacity to transport you to another world, whilst making you consider important things like tolerance, difference and conformity. The ending is one of the most evocative and brilliant I’ve come across.
Featured Image Georgia Rowe
What will you be reading this winter season?