Autumn is possibly the best time to get stuck into a good book. The darkening days and falling leaves seem to urge our bodies to retreat into semi-hibernation with a mug of hot chocolate and a gripping read.
It’s a great time to branch out and try something a little bit different – perhaps a new genre, author or style that you might previously have overlooked. Here are some suggestions, grouped by genre, for fantastic autumn reads to get your cosy season off to a great start.
Elmet is the haunting debut novel of Fiona Mozley, and has been shortlisted for the Booker prize. It’s a beautifully-written elegy for a lost Yorkshire way of life, with deeply satisfying prose and a gripping conclusion; proof that sometimes less is more when it comes to novel writing.
This Must be the Place is the latest novel by the wonderful Maggie O’Farrell. The somewhat unconventional structure of this novel – set in multiple time periods and across continents – makes a love story into a highly-compelling narrative, and her prose is, as always, sparsely beautiful.
Also read: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, A Visit from the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
For the Scandiphiles out there, the types who devour books on hygge and love nothing more than a good coffee and a cinnamon bun, The Almost Nearly Perfect People is a well-researched look at the habits, politics, customs and history of the Nordic countries that cuts through a lot of the utopian lifestyle narrative we are so often fed these days.
Lines in the Sand, A. A. Gill’s last essay collection published before his recent death, is a heart-rending series of meditations upon the state of the modern world. Although a highly emotional read, what is truly compelling is the message of hope and human resilience that permeates every story. A highly important book for current times.
Also read: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, Charles Foster’s Being a Beast and Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City.
Claire Cock-Starkey’s Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins collects travellers’ tales of discovery from centuries of world exploration. Divided into first encounters with people, foodstuffs and animals, it offers a fascinating and often humorous insight into what our colonial ancestors made of different cultures and customs.
Lost Japan by Alex Kerr will appeal to anyone fascinated by Japanese culture. Interspersed with the author’s atmospheric accounts of restoring a traditional Japanese house and filling it with a collection of antiques, it surveys the complex relationship of the Japanese to their own multifaceted culture, cities and theatres.
Also read: Jerry Brotton’s A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Road: A New History of the World and William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India.
Harold McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking is a must for any cook who has ever wondered why their ingredients behave in the way they do. A scientific yet accessible look at everything that goes on in the kitchen, it helps you understand both the basics and the more complex aspects of cooking.
The Ethical Carnivore: My Year Killing to Eat by Louise Grayis a fascinating glimpse into the world of killing and cooking your own food. Anyone with the slightest interest in where their food comes from should read this – and those without such an interest would do well to read it too!
Also read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, First Bite by Bee Wilson and Stewart Lee Allen’s In the Devil’s Garden.
Biography and autobiography
James Bowen’s A Street Cat Named Bob is the heart-warming tale of the bond between a homeless man and the injured ginger cat that he nursed back to health. It’s a tale of unconventional friendship, hope and healing on the streets of London, and was recently made into a film.
Jung Chang’s Wild Swans follows the lives of three generations of the Chang family through the upheaval of China in the twentieth century, beautifully weaving together dramatic world history with the personal lives and cares of the family at its heart. A long, but beautiful and important, read.
Also read: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Into the Wild by John Krakauer and Martin Connolly’s Mary Ann Cotton: Dark Angel.
Elly McCausland is a food writer and blogger at Nutmegs, Seven. She has a passion for travel and all things gastronomic, with a particular emphasis on fruit, breakfast and proper British puddings. When not concocting recipes or planning her next cultural odyssey, she is an English literature academic, specialising in children’s literature.