Some Novel Ideas for the Months Ahead!

Faithful readers of my column, as well as friends and family, all know that this is my favourite time of the year.  I love the autumn – its colors, its general feel, and its journey into the winter months where we get to have toasty fires, hot beverages, and snowy afternoons filled with long movies and great books.  I love literature and promoting stellar reading material.  For as long as I am on this planet, reading will not become a forgotten pastime. This article might seem seasonally early but you have to admit, that on these cold mornings, it’s beginning to feel pretty Fallish out there!

Using the shelves at the fabulous Box of Delights in Wolfville, the Book Review section of the Globe and Mail, The Atlantic Books magazine and my own know-how, here is a list of fantastic reads for the upcoming season. And remember to pass books and recommendations along to those nearest to you, as there’s nothing like sharing a book and then chatting about it over coffee and carrot cake at the Il Dolce Far Niente Espresso Bar in Wolfville (nice plug eh?)

Let’s start with local fare. Check out ‘Grey Eyes’ by Frank Busch, ‘Sweetland’ by Michael Crummey, and a wonderful collection of poetry by Acadia Professor Sylvia Hamilton called ‘And I Alone Escaped to Tell You’. A few more local selections that have peaked my interest for the autumn are Jan L. Coates’ ‘Rocket Man’, B.R. Myers’ ‘Butterflies Don’t Lie’, ‘Crimes Against My Brother’ by David Adams Richards and ‘How Loveta got her Baby’ by Nicholas Ruddock. For the history buff, check out ‘The Lynching of Peter Wheeler’ by Debra Komar – the true story of the murder of Annie Kempton in Bear River, Nova Scotia.  It’s a very gripping novel.

Recognizable names have new novels out for your pleasure including Margaret Atwood’s new collection of short stories called ‘Stone Mattress’.  Ian McEwan, one of my favorite authors of all time (he wrote ‘Atonement’, ‘Saturday’, ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Sweet Tooth’), has a new novel out called ‘The Children Act’, which is easily at the top of my reading list.  Stephen King has released a great novel recently called ‘Mister Mercedes’, and Ken Follett has put out the third novel in his Century Trilogy called ‘Edge of Eternity’.   And you should all definitely add Mette Jakobson’s ‘The Vanishing Act’, Alissa York’s ‘Fauna’, Ania Szado’s ‘Studio Saint-Ex’ and Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ to your reading lists for this fall!

If you are looking to introduce young adults to great novels, I recommend S. E. Hinton’s classic ‘The Outsiders’, Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, Daniel Dafoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’, Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, Betty Smith’s ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, or try Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’!

Other selections for the chilly months ahead are ‘Bleeding Egde’ by Thomas Pynchon, ‘The Lewis Man’ by Peter May, ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn, ‘The Long Way Home’ by Louise Penny, ‘The Bone Clocks’ by David Mitchell, ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith, or ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters.

Recommendations that have come my way from friends include ‘The End of Your Life Book Club’ by Will Schwalbe, ‘The Far Side of the Sky’ by Daniel Kalla, ‘Spanish Fly’ by Will Ferguson, ‘The Marlowe Papers’ by Ros Barber, ‘Transatlantic’ by Colum McCain, and the newly discovered and released ‘The Fall of Arthur’ by J.R.R Tolkien (Thanks Ian!).

Besides novels, I am guilty of reading Plays! It’s a lot of fun to grab some friends and read a classic stage play out loud and play out (no pun intended) all the classic characters of the stage. Pick up a Tennessee Williams classic like ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ or ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, a Neil Simon comedy like ‘The Sunshine Boys’ or ‘The Goodbye Girl’, Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Importance of Being Earnest’ or a Shakespeare play like ‘The Tempest’, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

One more grouping of considerations include ‘The Garden of Letters’ by Alyson Richman, ‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty, ‘Upside Down’ by Fern Michaels, ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt, ‘Sycamore Row’ by John Grisham, ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ by Matthew Thomas, and ‘Orphan Train’ by Christina Baker Kline.

We are lucky to have THREE stores in Wolfville that sell new and used books and I spread the wealth to all of them. Enjoy these selections and others you come across. Have an incredible experience of opening your mind, expanding your imagination and welcoming new characters into your life. Enjoy!


Mike Butler