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Book Recommendations for Autumnal Feelings

By Ana Cecilia Matute, Megan Cradock, Lauren Jones and Sam Chambers

Love it or hate it, autumn always comes around. Below, we’re sharing some top picks to suit a whole variety of autumnal moods, so hopefully you’ll find something that sounds like a great read – however you’re feeling.

If You Still Fancy a Holiday: The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

Take a journey to Myanmar during the Victorian era to tune a single piano. There you will meet the Shan people, understand their history and the multiple migrations that happened long ago.

In Daniel Mason’s novel The Piano Tuner, Edgar Drake, a specialist piano tuner, travels to Myanmar to fix a one-of-a-kind piano, an Erard, that is located in a remote area. He embarks on a fantastic and uncertain adventure after a military order is issued, as the owner of the piano, Anthony Carroll, is the only contact with the Shan people. Nobody has heard much about him since he entered the community and now it is Edgar’s mission to find out what happened.

This incredible journey is full of historical details inspired by the experience that the author himself had in Myanmar while studying malaria. It’s a novel that will transport you to a holiday full of history.

For the Daydreamers Searching for a Little Magic: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Looking to lose yourself in a fantastical story about a subterranean world and its labyrinthine library? Then delve into The Starless Sea.

If you found a beautiful door painted onto an alley wall, would you try to open it?

Zachary Ezra Rawlins encountered such a door as a child… but he walked away. Many years later, when he finds a mysterious book decorated with a bee, a key and a sword, he takes it home to read. It holds a collection of stories, each stranger than the next, and one is familiar – a boy discovers a painted door. A door that leads to someplace called the Starless Sea.

Zachary’s quest for answers soon becomes a dangerous fight for survival as the secrets of the Starless Sea and its libraries are revealed.

Alternating between Zachary’s adventure and the short stories he reads along the way, The Starless Sea is eclectic and complex, striking and intriguing, offering far more questions than answers. It asks us to consider the magic of stories and their place in the world and, perhaps most importantly, whether these stories ever really end.

For When You Just Want to Curl Up with a Book: Women by Chloe Caldwell

Desperate to get all cosy and get lost in a good story? Women by Chloe Caldwell is a pacy novella about an unnamed female protagonist moving to the city, falling in love with an older woman and discovering her true self. The protagonist questions what it means to be a daughter, a friend and a lover, all while seesawing between embracing and confronting her self-destructive behaviours and yearning for the attentions of an older woman who has a girlfriend.

Caldwell’s characters are flawed, enigmatic and at times intensely dislikable, but, above all, they’re characters that it’s impossible not to have opinions about. Their passionate affair and fierce hot-and-cold feelings for each other drive the plot of the novella and make for a compulsive read.

The entire novella is a deep dive into self-awareness and female relationships, both with oneself and with others. Caldwell’s true strength lies in her beautiful prose and wisdom in not trying to simplify or rush complex matters, instead allowing them to sit in the awkward gaps and just be a part of the conversation. The novella is an engaging and thought-provoking read, perfect to devour in the space of an autumn afternoon.

If You’re Missing Something Lost: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

There’s something nostalgic about early September mornings, in the chill air, drifting mists and clay-white skies. Autumn is also the season of decay: with its browning leaves and mulch. These moods permeate Brideshead Revisited (1945), which, typical of Waugh, concerns the luxurious lives of the 1920s upper class but, at its heart, is an elegy for an idea of England: Catholic, aristocratic and probably imaginary.

In the dying years of the Second World War, Captain Charles Ryder is stationed with his company at Brideshead, the semi-dilapidated country home of the notorious Flyte family. The return triggers in Ryder memories of both the house and its family. Here and there – behind the low door of a wall in Oxford, “that grey city,” or buried beside an oak tree where Charles and his doomed friend Sebastian shared strawberries and champagne or smouldering in the hearth of Brideshead’s private chapel – Ryder senses he is approaching a beautiful, eternal prize that he has “loved long since but lost awhile.” Though many have reviled the novel for its very un-Evelyn-Waugh-like sentimentality, Brideshead continues to win devotees among Catholic apologists and gay liberationists alike.


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