Ah, fall, that wonderful time of year when you can wear your sweaters and cozy socks without having to add a huge coat and boots! I love the excuse to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate and look forward to pumpkin pie and homemade applesauce. Even the commute is more enjoyable, with the trees doing their best fireworks impression.
However, despite the wonderful coziness that sets in as the days get shorter and cooler, or maybe because of it, I can never quite shake the sense of melancholy that comes along with the changing colours. Fall is such a short season here, and the long winter is right around the corner…
This is usually enough to set me to searching out slightly darker fare for my bedtime reading, and this year in particular I’ve been feeling very arboreally-focused in my selections, as you can see by my current to-read list, which I’ve shared below:
Big Lonely Doug by Harley Rustad
Originally featured as a long-form article in The Walrus that garnered a National Magazine Award (Silver), Big Lonely Doug weaves the ecology of old-growth forests, the legend of the West Coast’s big trees, and the turbulence of the logging industry. It delves into the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, First Nations land and resource rights, and the fraught future of these ancient forests around the story of a logger who saved one of Canada’s last great trees.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales dies alone on her estate the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get.
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society’s fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.
In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water to avoid freezing to death
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce.
The Hill by Karen Bass
Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop — with no cell service — the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, things seem very wrong. And worst of all, something is hunting them.
If you’re looking for a fun, in-real-life way to welcome in this spooky yet beautiful time of year, check out the Twilight Trek: A Walking Storytime in Bruce Park happening on October 23 (weather permitting!). Feel free to dress up in costume as we wander through the park sharing spooky stories in this beautiful natural setting!
What books are you reaching for this time of year? As the weather drives us inside, are you reaching for cozy, heartwarming stories, or are you eyeing up the woods next door with a shiver running up and down your spine like me? Let me know below! I’d love to hear what’s on your to-read list!