What We're Reading, Vol. 2
October is our favorite month here at the Attic. We wait for it all year, but somehow, when it finally comes around, it tends to be our busiest season, with endless work deadlines and family obligations. There are so many crunchy leaves that we want to stop and step on and just so much that we want to do and see and cook and drink and read, but when it comes to it, there’s barely enough time to get through everything that we have to do each day. Still, we squeeze what we can into the season, whether it’s reading books late at night or taking breaks to watch a spooky film (or break out our favorite spooky playlist as we work). We’ll share what we can with you this month – we have our eyes on understatedly spooky reads and Halloween films – but here in the meantime, is what we’re reading this month:
At the moment I'm slogging my way through plenty of course reading, but recently I picked up Anne Carson's 'Autobiography of Red' and absolutely devoured it in one sitting. It's a beautiful, strange book and something I would recommend to anyone looking to get into Carson (as I was) or is interested in poetic form, translation, and monsters.
My current read is The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. It’s spooky, mysterious, and dramatic — what more could one want for an October read? Rumours of a sea serpent run rampant through an oceanside community and leave no one untouched: “She takes to making charcoal sketches in which a sea serpent — black-winged, blunt beaked — snaps at her from the page.”
October has always been my favorite month, so I fully celebrate it in any form I can. Making comforting dishes, doing Halloween crafts, and reading autumnal books. My almost two year old son loves Goodnight Goon, which is a parody of Goodnight Moon. He always points at the witch/old crone at the end of the book and says, “Mama.” I’ll be honest, I don’t mind. When we aren’t reading Goodnight Goon, I’m reading similarly autumn appropriate reads from spooky to cozy. Re-reading Shirley Jackson is always welcome this time of year. While the new Netflix series Haunting of Hill House isn’t terribly true to the book, it’s nice to re-read whether you watch the new series or not. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a favorite of mine. I’m also reading the new Tana French novel, The Witch Elm. I always tear through her mystery novels. This one is her first stand-alone from the Dublin Murder Squad. I’m looking forward to getting started.
I also read To Kill a Mockingbird every autumn. It’s an all-time favorite of mine, and many others. The conclusion takes place after a Halloween pageant, and with a character like Boo, I consider that an autumnal book. I’m looking forward to reading this to my son when he’s a little older.
This month has been all about resetting for me and taking my time with books and everything that I do every day. I finished Conversations with Friends soon after our last post, and though I picked up Normal People right afterwards, I was ready to embrace the autumn spirit and turn towards slightly spookier reads. I can’t do scary stories, so my definition of “spooky” differs from Lee’s (more on that from me later this week), so while I want to be reading Shirley Jackson, I’m more likely to be turning to very dark social satire or implied spook. Consequently, I read Patrick deWitt’s French Exit last week, just finished Claire Fuller’s Bitter Orange, and am getting into Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under at the moment.
October is peak busy season for me and being remote I struggle between keeping my free time free and trying to just get through one more work assignment. To escape at least for a moment, I’ve been gravitating towards poetry and short stories I can get through in a minimal amount of time. Roald Dahl’s “Taste,” Gillian Flynn’s “The Grown Up,” and selections from Lauren Groff’s Florida have all provided gothic, atmospheric reads to get me in a spooky mood, even if I haven’t had a chance to enjoy a seasonal chill just yet. I’ve just started Useless Magic by Florence Welch and plan to let its lyrical moments and richly-colored imagery fully immerse me into the soul of what’s left of this beloved month.
As a conference draws near, the time for reading outside of work dwindles. When I get home from work, all I want is to watch silly videos and eat chips. But I do enjoy my research and the work I am doing for this conference! It’s about cannibalism in Anglo-Saxon texts and in Game of Thrones. Just yesterday I tackled some passages from A Feast for Crows. So this is what my reading life looks like now!
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