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Autumn and books

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, September 2021; written by Amie Toepfer.

If you’ve been outside lately you might have noticed that there’s something in the air. It is a briskness that even just a few weeks ago was missing, which I take as the first sign that autumn is truly on her way.

Today, I noticed the riot of colors on the maple outside my office window - another sure sign summer is gone and autumn is approaching. And if all that isn’t convincing then all of the pumpkins and pumpkin spice flavored items in the store should be another dead giveaway that autumn is coming.

Now, I know some people don’t care for this time of year, and I’m sorry, but I just can’t relate. I wait for autumn like an eager child waits for Santa on Christmas morning. I honestly love everything thing about this time of year… well almost everything, the dead fish smell at Ward Lake I could live without - but everything else I love! The pumpkins, the colors, the decorations, the time with family and friends, the food, the copious amounts of hot tea that I drink, and the long hours I can spend reading while it rains outside.

One of my favorite book series to read during autumn is “A Discovery of Witches,” by Deborah Harkness. This series has it all, historical-fantasy-romance-mystery all set in Oxford. Diana Bishop is an alchemical historian working at Oxford. On a fateful day in early autumn she opens a bewitched manuscript and unwittingly opens her life to the intrusion of magic. Though she is a descendent of a long line of witches, Diana has never allowed magic into her life. She quickly sends the manuscript back, but soon she finds out that it is impossible to ignore the magic that is all around her and in her. This is a thrilling series that will captivate even the most skeptical person.

“Willodeen,” by Katherine Applegate has recently become a new favorite book of mine and is perfect for a fall read. This is a timely “green” read about the effects humans can have on the natural world. Willodeen, orphan and town loner, fights to restore the natural balance of things after her small town unwittingly destroys it. Follow Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, as they unravel the mystery of a lost migration, its consequences, and figure out a way to restore balance, it’s utterly mesmerizing and unforgettable. “Willodeen” will have you looking around your own town and wondering what changes can be made.

“The Leaf Thief,” by Alice Hemming recently jumped into my top 10 favorite read-aloud list. This magical picture book focuses on one neurotic squirrel’s panic over discovering leaves off of his tree are MISSING, GONE, STOLEN! Thank goodness his good friend, Bird, is there to help solve the mystery. In the vein of Mo Willem’s “Pigeon” books, “The Leaf Thief” will have readers laughing hysterically as they react to Squirrel’s problem. Best to read this one without that cup of tea I was talking about, because you just might spit some out from laughing.

Finally, autumn also ushers in my one “scary” story to read for the year. I’m not much of a scary story reader, but each autumn, I pick one to read. This year, I selected “The Woods are Always Watching” by Stephanie Perkins. The book follows best friends, Neena and Josie, on their first and last hiking trip before college. With 2,000 miles between them and everything else, they fight to survive the night on unmarked paths deep in the woods as unknown evil watches from the shadows. Will the girls make it out alive, and if they do, will their humanity and friendship survive as well? You better plan to make it a late night, because once you start this book, you aren’t going to want to put it down.

No matter if you love autumn, hate it, or are just meh about it, I hope that you find time to curl up with a good book. Enjoy a wonderful cup of hot tea with a seasonal treat, and relax in your favorite spot to read. Happy autumn!

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