The nights have started to draw in and the seasons are changing so we thought it was a perfect time to bring a few more suitably autumnal suggestions to your attention from the Reading Group Collection. A couple are spooky reads to get you ready for Halloween, others have a gripping story your reading group can get their teeth into, while others are just really great reads.
Autumn by Ali Smith
This one is a perfect choice for this time of year! Part of a quartet that follows, surprisingly enough, the seasons (Winter and Spring have been published, Summer is still to come), this asks some thought-provoking questions about the world we live in. Written in Smith’s descriptive and woven style, this looks at the events of Autumn 2016, a Britain facing an uncertain future and explores topics as far reaching as love, a person’s place in history and how people are bound by their pasts, presents and futures. If you’re looking for a book to spark discussion amongst your group members, then this could be a great choice.
Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
Such an autumnal cover on this one and a story to match. Set in a small village on the west coast of Ireland, when a wanted war criminal arrives, this novel looks at what happens when members of the community face some harsh truths.
Although a difficult subject matter, for one of our Leamington-based groups, this book provoked a lot of discussions about several different topics. Another novel to interweave history with themes of nationalism, the nature of violence and what it means to be evil. Edna O’Brien’s latest novel ‘Girl‘ will be published this month.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
A suitably Gothic novel for this time of year! Opening in a church yard in 1912 on the night the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are said to be seen, this starts spooky and doesn’t relent. Full of superstition, mystery and murder, this macabre novel follows the story of Connie who at the age of 12 witnessed something she shouldn’t have and now can’t remember. When memories start to surface, questions are asked about family and community.
The Travelling Bag and other ghostly stories by Susan Hill
This collection of short stories will scare and thrill you this autumn. From the foggy streets of Victorian London to 1950s suburbia, the author of ‘The Woman in Black‘ has bought to life a frightening selection of characters and stories to accompany the darker nights. Easy to read and sparking a variety of thoughts and feelings amongst our groups, this is a collection that is a good one to pick if time is short. Each story is about 50 pages long and while characters are introduced quickly, plots are fast paced and haunting.
When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall
Set in a near future ravaged by floods and deadly viruses, this dystopian novel follows Roza Polanski, a 22 year old living in an isolated tower block with her family and the charismatic stranger who enters their world changing everything.
This was a novel that divided opinion in a Southam reading group – surely the best sign for a reading group book! Some really enjoyed the story, finding the characters and plot lines “wonderful”, while others struggled with the topics and issues raised. All agreed though that it was a well-written novel that made the reader think and gave lots of different things to consider when holding your book discussion.
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
This novel was reminiscent of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ according to one of our Bulkington groups. Covering similar topics of racism, murder and what happens to a community when such events occur, this follows Texas Ranger Darren Matthews as he investigates the murder in the small town of Lark of a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman. Topical in its coverage of issues of race and likely to spark a good level of debate and discussion within your group, this is one to pick this autumn if you’re looking for a thrilling and thought-provoking read.
Queen of the Desert: the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
Our non-fiction pick for autumn is this fascinating look at the life of Gertrude Bell. She was, among other things, an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author, poet, photographer, mountaineer and nation builder (I’m exhausted just typing all of that!) Born in 1868, she defied the expectations society had of her gender and turned her back on high society life, preferring instead to travel, explore and become involved with the creation of the independent kingdom of Iraq.
One of our Bedworth groups recommend that you give this book a go – it brings to life “a very interesting lady a bit lost in history” as well as covering a lot of history of Arabia and background to the events that have happened in this region.
Those are our autumn picks for you to consider. If you have other suggestions, do let us know in the comments or you can leave a review of the books your group has been reading by logging into your reading group account on the library catalogue, finding the book you want to review and clicking on the ‘Review this book’ link. Alternatively, keep filling out the feedback forms that come with each reading group set – we look through them and post them online. They are a big help for other groups selecting their titles and help us know what future books to suggest for the Reading Group Collection.
If you’d like to know more about reading groups, including how to set up your own group and how the Collection works here in Warwickshire, you’ll find details here or pop into your local Warwickshire Libraries and staff will be happy to answer any and all questions you might have.
Happy autumn reading!