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5 Books to Read this Autumn

By Callum Foulds

Despite voraciously reading throughout the year, I need little convincing that autumn is the season for books. At no other point in the year does it feel more apt to sink into your bed and tear through an absolute dream of a story. Here, I am going to talk about some that would definitely reward reading during autumn. I hope I can introduce some new authors and titles, or perhaps lead you to finding new discoveries from these selections.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Photo: Knopf

Readers will be familiar with Donna Tartt’s books; The Goldfinch and the contemporary masterpiece, The Secret History. I love both books and consider her one of best authors we have. Unfortunately, due to the huge successes of these titles, The Little Friend often gets overlooked. Part murder mystery, part southern-gothic fable, The Little Friend is a far darker tale than Tartt’s other works. Tartt’s mastery of language is spectacular. The way she paints the small Mississippi town as a place defined by it’s contrasts between suburban comfort and a dangerous underworld, drawing parallels between the deplorable and loveable characters within each group is completely addictive. There are moments where some of the most grotesque scenes I have ever read just dance off the page. This is a book that will let you tap into the darker elements of the season and revel in the horrors.

Septology by Jon Fosse

Jon Fosse's Septology
Photo: Giramondo Publishing

This weighty tome contains seven novels, brought together in an anthology. One of the more unique books I have come across, Septology is the masterwork by Norwegian writer, Jon Fosse and takes the reader through the days of an artist as he grapples with art and religion. It is a really beautiful book. Fosse’s writing is sharp and combines a direct coldness with the warm simplicity of the human experience. There is very little punctuation, doing away with full stops all together, creating a T.S. Eliot style of imagery, in a hefty stream of consciousness. I found this book completely engrossing. I included it here as I think it would be a wonderful story to devour as the nights gets darker and the brutality of nature rules. Perhaps not an obvious choice for even the most devoted readers; nonetheless, I would highly recommend Septology to anyone who wants a different kind of reading experience.

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
Photo: Jonathan Cape

Ian McEwan is an essential writer in contemporary literature. This is not my favourite in his extensive bibliography, but I felt I had to include it here as it’s an underrated work. It explores life during the aftermath of communism and the dregs of Nazism in Europe after the second world-war. Similarly to, Septology, the book explores the effects of religion, or lack of, on people’s lives. It’s a relatively short book, but it really packs a punch. McEwan’s writing is reliable and precise; it is sparing yet expansive, and really works with the reader when telling the story. As with most of his books, context is everything when providing the atmosphere: the vibe of the city when the Berlin Wall falls is completely electric; the gothic ambience of the novel’s frightening climax is reflected in the eerily quiet, war-torn French countryside. There are moments in the story which recall classic ghost stories; like Wilkie Collins’, The Woman in White, and macabre frights like Iain Banks’, The Wasp Factory. For a good tale, spanning decades of English history; familial trauma; and explosive revelations, Black Dogs is an excellent book for the season.

All The Lovers in the Night by Mieko Mawakami

All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami
Photo: Kodansha

Mieko Kawakami is one of the most well-known contemporary authors in Japan. Her work is emotional and poignant, and her prose is simple yet lyrical. All The Lovers in the Night is a short tale about a woman who has struggled to form any meaningful relationships for many years; keeping herself to herself; only giving significance to her immediate surroundings. I picked this book up as I have struggled with similar issues. I found this book surprisingly profound. It’s straightforwardness is affecting. It is sad but has the same air of hope that hangs over many of Kawakami’s novels - I found this to be comforting. You could get through this book in one day, curled up on the couch on a rainy autumn afternoon; it has a hazy, dreamlike quality which lets it linger. One of the more memorable novels I’ve read this year, I would highly recommend, All The Lovers in the Night. It is a story that I know I will return to for years to come.

Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield

Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
Photo: Oxford University Press

I suppose this a cheat recommendation, as there are many stories within this book that are excellent and that I would individually recommend. I chose to include it here however, as she is one of my absolute favourite authors, and I often return to her short stories if I’m feeling uninspired in my reading. ‘The Woman at the Store’ is at first glance a regular story, but holds something dark towards it’s end; ‘Millie’ is similar, and has a real southern gothic feel to it; ‘Life of Ma Parker’ is devasting in the hopelessness of it’s main character, sat amongst the sense of underlying sadness and melancholy that permeates through the collection. Katherine Mansfield’s prose never fails to be stunning, and she is a fine example of the best the modernist movement had to offer. I would recommend reading this book on a park bench on a blustery day. I have found that the stories stay in the mind, and reward multiple readings. Mansfield is a fascinating author, and her work feels particularly moving this time of year.

As I have stated before, autumn is the season for reading. I can’t think of anything better than watching leaves spin past your window, with a hot cup of coffee in your hand, and an excellent book to inhale. I do hope I have inspired you to take a moment to recognise the changes that are happening this time of year. I find reading to be a grounding experience; even if I only read a couple of pages a day, I feel that I can see things clearer; that my brain has been elasticised; that my senses are more alert. I hope you have found a new favourite from this list, or from further discoveries. Have a wonderful autumn!


About the Writer:

Callum Foulds is a poet and recording artist based in Nottingham, England. They enjoy good food, scary movies and playing with their cat. They can often be found reading on the couch, or agonising over whatever creative venture they are currently embarking on. @cf_oulds

1 comment



Thankyou for these wonderfully written recommendations Callum I shall certainly be seeking them out .

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