The publishing industry is informed, in large part, by long-established truisms. People only buy hardcovers at Christmas. Summer reading means fluff. Nobody buys books in January. Only men like scary stories.
Some of these are verifiably true, of course. Others not remotely so. In particular, I have always doubted the “right book for the right season” approach to reading (and publishing, and bookselling). Are we really hard-wired to crave sombre literary doorstoppers from November 1 to December 24? Are low-brow thrillers best consumed on a beach in July? Do we want romance in the two weeks leading up to the fourteenth day of February any more than we want romance any other time? For me, it’s a no to all of these self-fulfilling “facts” of readerly habits. All of them…except one.
If you live in a geography where there are pronounced seasons that include autumn you know the shivery magic of October. There’s something about the coolness of the evenings, the leaves scraping down the street, the solitary walks home with the branches chattering your name overhead…
Ghosts didn’t invent the autumn. But it may well be that the autumn invented ghosts.
This year, I’m currently curled up with a work of non-fiction that, while a serious work of scholarship, conveys its fair share of brainy chills: Satan: A Biography, by Henry Ansgar Kelly (University of Cambridge Press). It’s research. But utterly fascinating research (I feel another blog coming on, but will resist for now).
Naturally, this being an author’s website, I would recommend my own books for an October read. (Didn’t you notice? The Guardians is out in paperback in North America!) But I would personally be interested to hear of any of your own scary recommendations. I’m looking for a new Halloween read. Something I’ve never heard of before. Ideas?