Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Don’t let the weather dampen your desire to read

In my mind, there’s no such thing as bad weather for reading. Whatever the world’s doing outside, there’s always a perfect read for the season if you know where to look. I tend not to read the same types of books when the sun is shining and the days are long as I do in the darker, colder months, but there’s still never a time of year when I won’t have a book nearby.

Starting in the early spring when the outside temperature is in that sweet spot, still with a slight chill in the air, I like nothing more than to get up early in the morning just to sit and read out in the garden. Following on from winter, I find that this is the time when I need good character driven stories, ones where the plot is almost secondary to the protagonist’s growth. These are often uplifting books, good for welcoming the brightness back into the days but what’s more important for me at this time of year is building an emotional attachment.

Authors like Kazuo Ishiguro spring (my apologies) to mind here. As much as anything, when winter is fading away, all I want to do is channel my hope and energy into discovering new people and seeing where their paths take them. It’s the perfect chance for a fresh start alongside fresh faces.

I need the kind of texts you might consider holiday reads and that feel as though they were written to be enjoyed poolside

Then when the days stretch out, the temperatures are up and there’s no longer any doubt that summer has arrived, books become a source of respite from the inhospitable heat. On these days I look for shorter, more lightweight books. I need the kind of texts you might consider holiday reads and that feel as though they were written to be enjoyed poolside.

For me, this means fun science fiction stories, more focused on a romping adventure than having grand emotional significance or serious political undertones. Either that or a good short story collection where I can devour two or three different adventures in a single sitting.

One of my favourite short story collections is Different Seasons by Stephen King and despite its darker side this is the kind of thing I look for in the summer weather. It includes The Body (the basis for the film Stand By Me) which is the ultimate adventure tale of friends growing up on summer days in my opinion.

If the world insists on being dark and gloomy, I might as well heighten the tension in a twisting narrative

When autumn comes around and the brittle leaves are falling, Gothic tales just seem too appropriate to ignore. I love the way the sinister Gothic classics can appear to merge with reality on dark evenings reading late at night. Besides Gothic horror, anything with similar themes or dark subplots fits the brief here. I need something with intrigue and mystery to drag me in and pull me along in its grasp. If the world insists on being dark and gloomy, I might as well heighten the tension in a twisting narrative.

Then, with winter’s return, one image comes to mind. A fire brightening up the living room, blankets to fight off the cold, a mug of coffee (or hot chocolate if you prefer) close at hand and of course a good book to get truly lost in.

During winter nights I always turn to epic titles. Often these are fantasy but regardless of genre, they should be long enough that I can get comfy on a cold night (all the better if it’s raining or even snowing outside) and lose myself for hours on end.

They can change the way we feel or how we view the world

In epic tales like The Lord of the Rings, on these kinds of days there’s something blissfully warming in the companionship between a questing group of companions as well as in the constant references to rustic taverns serving hearty stews and ales for weary travellers.

Books are powerful things. They can change the way we feel or how we view the world. In darker times they can lift us up or, if it’s what we’re after, they can exaggerate reality into something fantastical and marvellous. But also, on bright days, they can fill us with hope and enthusiasm for the opportunities of the season.

They are a portal that can take us to any world but when that world bares resemblances to the atmosphere of our own, I feel that their effect is magnified exponentially. Thus, there is the perfect time to read every book and I live for the moments when I find these optimised book-weather combinations.

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