Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Are books and movies seasonal? I am wondering about this because my WIP, which I wrote this past summer, takes place in the beach town I visited every summer growing up. It was awesome to immerse myself in that world this past summer, to think of new ideas while floating in my pool or grilling some steaks. But now that it’s fall, even though I have a long list of great notes from my agent, I’m having trouble diving back in. What I really want to work on is my previous WIP, which takes place in the fall, in Pennsylvania where I grew up, where leaves turn orange and then brown and crackle under your feet in October. It’s also darker—it will (someday, I hope)—be a great Halloween read.

So this got me thinking about seasonal favorites. Of course, movie and television releases are almost always timed to coincide with the season that best suits the sensibility of the project. There are some exceptions that really work: Revenge, for example, is a summer story that we watch in the fall. But the tone of the show is certainly appropriate for the fall and winter. The sunny Hamptons backdrop ends up adding a nice dose of irony.

I’m not sure if fiction book releases are ever seasonally planned, with the exception of those holiday compilations that come out every Christmas. I’ve seen a lot of 2013 paranormal books that have release dates in the early winter and spring, missing the autumn season by a mile. Of course, this really only matters when the book first comes out, and for those who are fast enough readers to be caught up on their wish list. My Goodreads page, on the other hand, reveals the shameful secret that I’ve been stuck halfway through my last summer read, Don Winslow’s Kings of Cool, since August (when the school year started up again and I fell into the annual vortex of grading papers and planning lessons). I need to just give it up, because Kings of Cool is totally a summer book, mood and vibe-wise.

As for autumnal books, here are some of my favorites. These don’t all begin or take place in the fall, or feature monsters, but these are some books that have a very fall feeling, at least to me:

Top five (classics):

5. Dubliners-James Joyce
4. Wuthering Heights-Emily Bronte
3. The Inferno-Dante
2. Dracula-Bram Stoker
1. Frankenstein-Mary Shelley

Top five (more) modern books:

5. Masque of the Red Death—Bethany Griffin
The opening of this book is amazing--Griffin really pulls you in to the world. 

4. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—Ransom Riggs
“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries -- but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.” 

3. City of Bones-Cassandra Clare
The whole series, really, has a great fall-mood. The Shadowhunters' world seems to be fading, and elegy always feels fall to me. Also can't wait for the movie. 

2. Practical Magic—Alice Hoffman
The movie wasn't too bad, but I'd say read this amazing book first. Almost no one does magical realism better than Hoffman. 
“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.” 

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle-Shirley Jackson
If you've never read this fairly under-the-radar little offbeat gem (by the author of the famous Hunger Games-inspiring short story "The Lottery") I highly recommend it. I offer the first paragraph of the book as proof:

"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."


  1. The Scorpio Races is another newer one that is a perfect fall read. I'm going to start my re-read of it on November 1st. You can almost feel the biting breeze of the November ocean in its pages. Perfect.

  2. Oh, I so want to read that! My new tenth grade teacher introduced it last year, and the kids loved it. I am putting it on my list for fall--thanks! :)

  3. I think books and movies can be seasonal ;) I remember loving to watch films that were set against the backdrop of snow (e.g. Narnia) during winter time. And right now, since it's so close to Halloween, I started reading Anna Dressed in Blood :)

    New follower :)

    P.S. I adore anything Joss Whedon too *grins*

    Sel @ Bookcase™

    1. I think the seasonal thing is especially true of winter and holiday stuff. I know it always feels wrong to watch the "Christmas episode" of a show when it's in reruns, and it's like May or something ;)

      Joss is a genius! Though I just saw Cabin in the Woods (finally) this weekend, and it was my least favorite Joss thing...Still plenty to love with Buffy, Firefly, etc. though!