Autumn is the big season for publishing, and yet…it’s not the big books season for me. Summer, now that I live in DC, is all about staying indoors with the air conditioning on, unless I’m lying on a beach somewhere—both activities that are beautifully complemented by reading. I spend months thinking about what I’m going to read while sunbathing in the sand, often allowing myself longer books than I do the rest of the year when I’m racing towards my Goodreads goal, and planning carefully so that they’re books I can effortlessly read even over lunch after a glass of rosé or two.
I suppose autumn still sort of feels like the season when you go back to school and don’t have much time for reading for fun. And this autumn’s books will likely be long forgotten by the time I’m lying on a Californian beach next summer. I’ll want hot-off-the-press reads, fun reads, likely published that spring or summer—books like Hot Mess by Lucy Vine or The Inseparables by Stuart Nadler or Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charapoitra and Dhonielle Clayton.
I asked my fellow Rioters which season they thought of as their Book Season, and it turns out I’m not alone in thinking it’s not fall.
As much as I like the other seasons for reading (I mean, it’s reading, is there ever a bad season for it?), spring is totally my reading weather bae. By the time winter is sliding into spring, I’m seriously DONE with hibernating. I need sunshine and fresh air and books are the perfect accompaniment. My absolute favorite reading pastime is to take a blanket and my book outside and slip off my shoes and lay in the sun for hours. You can’t lay in the sun for hours during the summer because it’s too hot and humid and you need to reapply sunscreen and then your book pages get greasy. But spring is not too hot yet, and you can count on a light breeze to keep you comfortable. It’s the most perfect reading-outside-season. Just hand me my allergy meds and we’ll be all set. (Bonus: I’m finally willing to strap on my running shoes and hit the trails, and I can tear through audiobooks like nobody’s business.)
One of my favorite things in the world is to read outside. The breeze, the ambient sounds of nature. The crisp glass of white wine always right by my side. And as days get longer in the summer, you get more time to enjoy those moments.. Unfortunately, I have a photo-sensitivity issue where if I try to read in lower light conditions, I am more susceptible to seizures. So last year, my husband installed a special light on our patio right above what I call my “Reading Rainbow” (my rainbow-colored hammock-style chair) so he could ensure I could spend more time outside as the summer evenings begin to get shorter and shorter.
I like feeling connected to nature when I read. I love to read outside (though my current patio furniture setup makes that difficult) or in bed with the windows wide open and the sunlight streaming in. I’ve written before about how the weather affects my reading habits. I notice that I read a lot more when it’s warm and sunny out. In the wintertime, I tend to just hunker down with Netflix.
Summer’s my favorite season bar none anyway (the heat, the long days, daylight savings…ahhhhhhh), so it only makes sense that I love reading more in the summer than any other time of the year. Sitting outside with a book in one hand and a puppy curled up next to me is my definition of heaven. Plus, there are fewer distractions outside than inside, what with computers, TV, music, people who see you’re “doing nothing” and decide this is an invitation to start a conversation (no). But books aren’t just for sitting! I also like to walk and read, which gives me outside time, reading time, AND exercise. Coincidentally, the more I’m enjoying a book, the more I walk.
I must admit that I read most of my TBR books during Summer; it’s the season I go on my big vacation, back to my home country, and since my parents still don’t have internet connection, between meeting friends and family, I get a lot of time to read. Yet, I find that there’s a sort of mood when September comes along and gets firmly set as soon as October rolls in, that makes me crave sitting down with a book and a cup of tea. Dusk sets in earlier, the weather starts to shift and although it’s not yet too cold, it is cold enough to curl up with a blanket and lose myself in the story. Somehow, it feels even more so that the world around me and the world in the book intertwine.
Fall is such an atmospheric time of year that I can’t help but romanticize reading and books a little extra during this time. I have strong memories of visiting the tiny one-room library in my hometown during the fall with the trees seemingly on fire with their red and orange leaves like guards around the brick building. I grew up in New England, where our claim to fame is autumn and leaf peeping, and since the season is as much a part of my identity as is reading, the two are a natural and homey couple in my mind. Some days it’s warm enough to still read outside and you really can’t beat that autumn sunset glow when it comes to reading lights.
I particularly like reading outside (I’m not one with the elements), but I love fall aesthetic: oversized sweatshirts, extra blankets, pretty colors, leaves falling, hot drinks 24/7…it’s all wonderful. I’ve lived in Midwest USA for 98 percent of my life and the winters are obviously brutal, summers can be unbearably hot, and sometimes spring gets completely skipped over—but there’s always fall and it’s my fave. Perfect time to curl up with a good book, a chai latte, and my stuffed bear, and read for hours.
I’ve lived pretty much my whole life in a place that doesn’t really have seasons (LA, what up), so it’s never been something I’m particularly aware of. However, even in LA, the one period during which I’ve always sensed an actual difference in the air is winter—or rather, the winter holiday season. Something about how deserted the world feels during the winter holidays somehow makes me feel so cozy and comforted, and it’s the best time to curl up alone with a stack of books and let go of all real-life worries.
A few years ago, the day after Christmas, I settled down on the couch by the fire with The Lord of the Rings. This is a familiar habit for me, so, out of curiosity, I looked up the last time I’d read the book. There it was, a pattern plain as could be: I’ve reread The Lord of the Rings, every other year, always in December, since 2002. There is something deeply comforting about this pattern—one so ingrained in me that I didn’t even realize I’d been doing it. It embodies what I love about reading in winter: comfort and coziness, dropping into made-up worlds through the long, dark afternoons, that sense of quiet the snow brings. When I think about reading for pure, absolute, unbridled pleasure, I think about December afternoons reading The Lord of the Rings, and that happy feeling colors all my winter reading.
I hate cold weather. Once the weather drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, I’m a wimp), I huddle inside under blankets and refuse to go outside. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one. The only thing that makes winter bearable are my books. It’s the perfect time for reading. I snuggle under layers of quilts, guzzle hot green tea, and read. It starts around Christmas. In December, I allow myself nostalgic, comfort reads from childhood instead of new releases, so I’ll reread Little Women, or The Hobbit, or a sprawling George Eliot novel. I deserve it; it’s cold. After devouring a couple of those I’m typically back to newer books, but I still relish that feeling. By the time March comes around I’m ready to start hiking again and read mainly at night, but I do relish those long winter weekends and evenings full of reading.
I love winter. I live in a country where it gets cold enough in the winter without it going to extremes. Cold enough for your radiator to be turned on, for a bit of snow every year, for hot tea every evening (in my case, multiple times), and cold enough to read in bed with the duvet over your head. Because reading in bed is one of my absolute favourite things—as is reading with a cup of tea by my bedside—I find that I get most of my reading done during the winters. I always save my loveliest books for winter, too. The romances and cozy mysteries that feel just right combined with the comfort of my bed.
How about you, readers? What’s your favourite reading season?