Cozy or Spooky: Books to Read During Fall

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

“When I think of fall, I think of holidays, cinnamon and most importantly, books. The weather is hot outside but cold enough inside to light a candle and snuggle up with a good book,” says Ashley Sellen, member of Rebel Reads YA book club.

Although autumn is the season considered to begin with the autumn equinox, when night and day reach equal lengths, and it’s a season where the weather changes and everything is engulfed in yellow and red leaves, for UNLV students and teachers, it’s an important time for books and reading.

In her written interview, Hannah Martin, a member of the Rebel Reads YA, talks about what she generally does during this season and what makes fall an ideal time for reading books. “What fall means to me is rewatching my favorite fall shows and movies, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the nice weather. I think of the pumpkin cream iced chai from Starbucks, sweaters, and Halloween movies. Fall seems cozy to me which is why I love to read during this season.”

Martin touches upon two frequently used concepts that come with the Fall season: “cozy” and “spooky,” and she recommends her favorites for those who enjoy reading books in these genres. “Some fall books I would recommend are ‘Juniper & Thorn’ by Ava Reid, ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ by Holly Jackson, ‘Delicious Monsters’ by Liselle Sambury, ‘If We Were Villains’ by M.L. Rio, and ‘Small Favors’ by Erin A. Craig. Most of these books take place in small towns, but all of them have so many twists and turns that keep you guessing the entire time. If you want a cozy aesthetic atmosphere mixed with a spooky thriller, these books combine both of those elements.”

Emily Setina, an associate professor in the English department, also states that spooky books are quite intriguing for both adults and children during the fall season. “Right now, I have a 4-year-old who is very into Halloween. He got interested in it last November, and we’ve been reading ‘spooky’ books all year, so we are very, very ready for Halloween this year. We’ve probably read ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ 50 times. Luckily, we’ve branched out to some other kids’ Halloween books and “scary” (but not too scary) podcasts. I’m not good at anything too scary, but the preschool Halloween podcasts are about the right level of scary for me.”

When discussing book recommendations for UNLV students during the fall season, Setina touches upon the ghost stories, which have significant place in literature, and provides famous examples from American literature. “A few years ago when I was studying poems by Edith Wharton (mostly known for her Gilded Age novels), I stumbled on her ghost stories. I’d never read them before, and I was hooked.They are creepy and atmospheric in the best way, and they are the kind of stories I keep thinking about for a long time after I close the book. They were just republished as a collection, so though they were written a hundred years ago, they are now easy to find. Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ is a ghost story, it even starts with a haunted house. It’s a heavy, difficult read, its subject is the trauma of slavery, but it’s a book everyone should read. I just learned that it’s available as an audio book, with Morrison herself reading, and I’m eager to encounter it in her voice.” 

After discussing ghost stories, Setina talks about “Averno,” a work that was a finalist for the National Book Award in the poetry category in the year it was published. “For a book in a different genre, I’d recommend the poet Louise Glück’s collection ‘Averno.’ Glück died [recently] at age 80. Averno is a book about the underworld, death, nature, change and it starts with a long poem titled ‘October.’” And she adds, “So this year especially that seems like the poem to read.”

With Halloween being a big part of the season, as much as ghosts and spooky stories are talked about calmness, peace, warmth and coziness are also things that people seek and associate with this season. Sellen says that fall is a precious time for her to spend with her family and recommends a cozy book to read during this season. “A classic book that fits the feeling of fall for me is ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R. Tolkien. While only certain portions of the novel take place in fall, it still has all the cozy elements. Hobbits live a very simple life and idealize comfort. In the beginning, the main character (Bilbo Baggins) describes the comfort of his hobbit-hole in the way of foods/drinks such as tea, jam, tarts and more. And while adventuring, Bilbo describes his surroundings and the sweet scent of trees. Reading through these examples in ‘The Hobbit,’ I feel such a sense of comfort and it allows me to tune in to the feeling of fall.”

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