As fall approaches, I find myself craving books that I first read when the leaves were turning and tumbling to the ground. I am, as many of you probably already know, a dedicated re-reader. Some books that I have read I will only ever read once, but some I try to read once a year.
Those books, the annual reads, tend to call to me at specific times each year. For example, right now I could do with a bit of historical fiction by Philippa Gregory or a long afternoon with The Hobbit, but come November, I will be itching to read Harry Potter all over again, or His Dark Materials.
In the spring, I like to settle in with something from Mary Stewart or James Herriot, and in the summer I make way for books like Dove and The Hunger Games.
And I can only assume that this is because I am a nostalgic person. When I read these books, I’m taken back to the very first time that I pulled open the cover and ran my fingers over the pages. I can remember the sense of wonder that followed me through every chapter, and I remember falling in love with the story one word at a time.
When I was younger, I would become so entangled in a story that I would start to become it at times. When I was reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, I would relish the descriptions of food; heavy creams and honey drizzled over fresh, warm bread, pitchers of berry juice and spiced cider, and soft, smoked cheeses encrusted with nuts.
This obsession would drive me to survive of mostly breads and cheeses and juices for the duration of the book, causing my mother to question why the honey and cheese always disappeared so quickly.
Likewise, when I first heard of Lembas from LOTR, I wanted it. But the closest I could get was by purchasing Sesame Snaps. I would sit up in my room, and every time Sam and Frodo would eat the elven sustenance, I would too. I so desperately wanted to be in the story with them.
The same thing would happen when I was very young, but not with food. I remember reading about fantastic worlds with magic, and heavy woolen cloaks, and mystical beasts and feeling an ache in my heart that I couldn’t be there too.
This depth of reading takes you from the simple experience of being a watcher to being an active player in the story. You become entwined in the words, feeling every weather change, tasting every wine, and wielding every sword as if you were there yourself.
This is the beauty of fiction and the ultimate purpose of writing; to have experience that you, or others, may never have otherwise. To feel the scales of a dragon, or to have a heavy crown placed upon your head. To become a hero or a heroine, or to wreak havoc on the world.
I believe that my seasonal cravings for books are borne from this total immersion into stories. Just like the Sesame Snaps, reading the books again during a season that is either well-described or poignant in the book makes me feel even closer to it. It is the difference between being an observer and being a participant. Whether to stand by or to act.
So now, as autumn settles in, bringing with it cool nights and stunted days, Bilbo calls to me from the worn pages on the shelf, beckoning me to join him once again as he trudges through damp, dank forests and dark cold caves. It’s not really surprising that he is on my mind though, seeing as he and Frodo share a birthday two days from now.
Do you read any books seasonally? Do stories affect you in the same way? What stories call to you the loudest, and which do you get lost in the most?
I’ll be on Facebook until next time.