I am far more an Autumn/Winter person than I am a Spring/Summer one. The nights get longer, the weather gets colder, and my dark little soul gets happier. I jest somewhat, of course, but it’s true that I do feel far more comfortable in the darker, colder months, and I think the mood of them is far more suited to my favourite kind of books anyway: atmospheric, immersive, gothic reads that you want to take in by a roaring fire with a cup of tea – you know the kind I mean.
I don’t do well with set TBRs on a weekly or monthly basis, since I’m very much a mood reader, but I thought a general outline of some of the books I’m hoping to get to over a broader range of time would still give me plenty of scope to pick up other things as and when I want. So, without further ado, here are some books I’m particularly excited to try and pick up sooner rather than later.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
This book follows a recently widowed woman in Victorian England as she moves to an Essex village gripped by rumours of a mysterious, mythical serpent possibly stalking the area. It got a lot of buzz a while back and is supposedly beautifully written and thick with brooding atmosphere, so sign me up.
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
This is, in some ways, a placeholder for pretty much any du Maurier book. I think the style of her stories, wonderfully immersive in their vivid settings and often sinister intrigue, is perfect for the season. I have a fair few of her books to get to on my shelves, but this is the one I’ve had my eye on recently, given that it’s very different from her usual work in a lot of ways, with elements of time travel, no less. The development of a potion that can send you to the Medieval era leads a man to become addicted to it, resenting the days he must spend in his own time.
Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
When better to read the Queen of Crime than on a crisp, Autumnal day or a Cold winter’s night? Classic crime noir at its best, I’ve loved the Christie books I’ve read thus far and this is the one I’d like to pick up next. It sees a group of people reuniting a year after the death of their friend to remember her, but suspicions arise that one of them may have been her killer all along.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
I haven’t tried her work yet but I actually get a lot of du Maurier and Christie vibes when I hear about some of Highsmith’s books, and that is A-OK with me. More crime noir, the plot of this one follows two men who meet on a train and end up embroiled in a plan to each kill someone on behalf of the other. It sounds deliciously twisted!
The Essex Serpent, The House on the Strand, Sparkling Cyanide, and Strangers on a Train.
The Good People by Hannah Kent
I loved how atmospheric and transporting Kent’s debut was, and am excited to see if she can pull it off again. The Good People is about three women in 19th century Ireland trying to save a young child who has been condemned by their suspicious and paranoid community for being unable to walk or talk properly. They believe him to be a changeling responsible for their misfortunes, and the women’s attempts to exonerate him will supposedly put all their lives in danger.
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
Yet another classic crime noir, this seemingly approaches the genre in an unconventional way, exploring the dark underbelly of the American Dream. There’s a killer of young women on the loose, and to make matters more complicated, the lead suspect is a close friend of one of the detectives working the case. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold already.
Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
I adored We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Jackson and really want to try some more of her work. Having started with one of her best-known books, I thought I’d opt for one a little less known next, and this fits that bill, plus the concept of “the bitter cruelty of the passage from adolescence to womanhood” sounds brilliant.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Truthfully, I swithered about whether The Lie Tree would be my cup of tea or not, but I have heard a lot of good things and there’s an edition with illustrations by Chris Riddell, who I really like. Also, if I’m being totally honest, I saw the cover for Hardinge’s upcoming release and it’s so pretty that I want to own it, but felt I should at least try this first.
The Good People, In a Lonely Place, Hangsaman, and The Lie Tree.
Matilda by Mary Shelley
I loved Frankenstein, and this novella by Shelley about a man with a strange obsession with his own daughter apparently horrified her father so much that he suppressed its publication, meaning it wasn’t released until more than a century after it was written. Consider my interest piqued.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
A crumbling country estate? A mysterious locked room? A creepy doll? Comparisons to Shirley Jackson? I don’t think I need to tell you why I’m excited about this one. Besides, the cover alone would be enough to get my attention.
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
This one doesn’t sound particularly Autumn/Winter-esque per se; it’s just one I’ve heard some good things about and I’m excited to get to. I do think it’s pretty dark though, as I believe it’s a harrowing coming-of-age story about a young girl determined to escape from her abusive step-father.
Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Set amidst a ‘harsh frozen landscape’, this is one that looks and feels particularly well-suited to a cold winter’s night when the winds are howling and the snow is falling thick and fast. It centres around a teenage girl who inadvertently rescues a baby from the den of a group of criminals, not realising what she’s getting herself into. When the criminals notice the baby is gone, they’re determined to get it back, and a deadly chase ensues. Props to Mulhauser for being the only man to make it onto this TBR. My list being dominated by women was entirely accidental, but I can’t say I’m unhappy about it.
Matilda, The Silent Companions, Bastard Out of Carolina, and Sweetgirl.
There we have it; by no means a comprehensive list, but one I’m very excited about nonetheless. What are some of the books you’re hoping to pick up over the coming months?