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Autumn Reads: 5 Brilliant Books for September Nights

Five wonderful reads to welcome in the new season.

Image by Gergely Meszárcsek from Pixabay

With Summer coming to an end and September fast approaching, it’s time to discover some Autumn reads. As the new academic year draws ever nearer, here are some of the best novels to curl up with after a long day of lectures in the cooler season.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

A fantastic gothic tale and Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is the perfect spooky read for Autumn. Littered with mentions of sexuality and romance, Dorian Gray’s story almost perfectly mirrors the life of its author. Through the experiences of aristocrats and a painter, the ambiguous moral message cements the novel as one of the greatest in the gothic genre. Fondness is disguised through art in the novel, as themes of expression, aestheticism, and experimentation are central to the narrative.

While the novel is deeply reflective of Wilde’s life, it is also a magnificently crafted gothic story. Hints of betrayal, selfishness, and blind egotistical acts drive the protagonist to an unexpected fate. The novel’s fantastically spooky and increasingly sinister plot suits the darker September nights well.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Adapted for television in 2020, most people will have heard of Normal People through its fantastic small-screen success. But Sally Rooney’s magnificent novel strikes the hearts of readers and provides an almost life-changing read. With themes of youthful innocence, romance, and self-discovery, the book is a perfect read for new beginnings and new seasons. Many have deemed the novel a future classic for its phenomenal storytelling and heart-wrenching journey. As many characters drift in and out of protagonists Marianne and Connell’s lives, their bond is what binds the novel.

Rooney’s perfect portrayal of discovery, inner conflict, and changing minds instills the novel with a sense of thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Two teenagers and their journey into adulthood have established the novel as a favorite in modern fiction. With a story of love, loss, and maturing, Normal People is a fantastic book to get stuck into this Autumn.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

With the recent release of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and special showings of the trilogy in cinemas across the UK, there is no better time to read or revisit Tolkien’s masterpieces. Set in the fascinating world of Middle Earth, the novels follow the journey of Frodo Baggins on a quest to destroy the One Ring. Accompanied by hobbit friends, wizards, elves, dwarves, and more, the mythical epic is full of fantastic stories and Tolkien’s own creations. His unbelievable imagination brings wonder, excitement, and emotion to his novels.

For an epic journey and an escape into a land far away, have a read of Tolkien’s classics this Autumn.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

A sophisticated dual love story that spans decades, Moyes’ novel is a perfect cozy read for the upcoming season. With a tale of love told in 1960 and 2003 simultaneously, the double dose of love and loss makes for a magnificent novel. Elements of infidelity, forbidden love, and longing are placed throughout. As the whirlwind of emotion and tension come together perfectly at the novel’s end, you’ll undoubtedly be left feeling fulfilled. For a romance novel that spans both the classic and the modern, The Last Letter from Your Lover is a perfect seasonal read.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Written as the prologue to Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys’ short novel tells the story of Mr. Rochester and his wife. Known as the madwoman in the attic, Antoinette Cosway is given life and voice in Rhys’ imagining of her early life. Sold into marriage with Mr. Rochester, a reader sees the ‘madwoman’ as we’ve never seen her before.

With an exploration of a society riddled with hatred, Rhys details Antoinette’s frustration, emotion, and fear that drives her to the point of insanity. Wide Sargasso Sea is a fantastic accompaniment to the brilliance of Charlotte Bronte’s gothic novel. Rhys’ best-seller is a perfect emotional short read for university nights.

Whether it’s a romantic coming-of-age novel or a seasonally spooky tale, take a moment to discover a new or old book this Autumn. Why not have a read of Mads Brown’s recent article on how to shop from ethical booksellers and be kind to the planet while you’re at it. Happy reading!

Written By

Melissa Rumbold is a 3rd year student at Durham University.

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