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Great Books to Beat the Cold Weather Blues

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)

Ostensibly, I love the fall season. I'm a huge fan of the changing leaves, I love boots and sweaters, and I can't get enough of butternut squash soup and pumpkin carving. Having been in places where the seasons don't change much, I also love the fact that I now live in a place where the seasons do change significantly, and I celebrate the start of each new season every year. (We're in Madrid as I write this, but that seasonal change holds true here, as well, and I'm loving the autumn here!) But on a level way below that surface, I always find myself in a slump this time of year. It took me a lot of my adult life to realize the pattern in what was happening, and it varies from year to year, but as the days grow shorter, I find myself turning inward. (For what it's worth, just recognizing the pattern was immensely helpful for me, and there's comfort in that awareness, even when I'm feeling down.) Sunlamps, exercise, and spending time outside all help, but I often imagine my life at this time of year as being colored by a filter like those on Instagram, and I just can't quite change that filter. Instead, I work to make the best of it and to be kind to myself during this season. I imagine many of you can relate!

At any rate, this seasonal change definitely affects my reading life! I'm currently reading a ridiculous number of books, largely because so few of them are working with my current mood. I wanted to share a few favorites that have risen to the top for me recently. All of these books are ones I've read this fall amid my funk, so I feel like I can honestly say that they stand up to the fall blues test (even this particular 2021 filter). These are great reads for other book lovers who also feel some seasonal blues. Hope you enjoy them!

Once Upon an Eid, edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed ( | - Be on the lookout for my review of this one on Friday! This is a fantastic middle grade collection of 15 short stories by Muslim authors. All of them focus on the celebration of Eid around the world, and while the experiences of the characters in the different stories are vastly divergent, all of the stories highlight the joy of Eid and the way that it brings people together. (The stories include celebrations of both Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr.) I loved this one on audio!

Abby Collette's A Deadly Inside Scoop ( | - I was surprised by just how much I loved this book! I honestly had not seen much about it, but it came up on a couple of cozy mystery lists, and I loved it right from the start. There's a great balance between Win's work to build up her family's ice cream shop and the central mystery within the story.

John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed ( | - Oh, wow. For me, this one is the most emotionally impactful of the ones on this list. I did almost stall out on this one since I sobbed my way through the beginning. But I circled back around to it and have found it so poignant and so beautiful. Green explores many topics from the mundane to the profound, and his insights are so impactful. He looks directly at the pandemic and it's impact on him and on the world, and he also covers so many other aspects of our lives on this planet. I am finding such solace in his honesty and in his unique (and brilliant!) perspective. (Full disclosure here - unlike the others on this list, there were multiple times where I could have sat on the floor and wept with this one... but I wanted to include it because it still feels like the right fit for me during this season.)

Uzma Jalaluddin's Ayesha at Last ( | - This retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is outstanding. I absolutely loved each of the central characters, Khalid and Ayesha, and I thought the way that Jalaluddin showed the struggles of each of them with their work lives and familial expectations beyond the romance part of the book really elevated this one for me.

As a side note, this is actually the ONLY book on this list that I read in print. Thank goodness for audiobooks! (While I'm being honest, I will admit that I feel a little embarrassed about this fact... NOT that I'm embarrassed at all about audiobooks, which I think are amazing and an important part of a vibrant reading life... But I also want to consider myself an avid print reader, and yet lately, audiobooks are definitely what is keeping me going as a reader! This realization -- that it's the only one on the list! -- reminds me how different types of reading experiences can be appealing depending on our moods and life situations!)

L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables ( | - I absolutely loved this beautiful book. Not only did I love the reading of it, but I also found such joy in the discussions surrounding the book. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Jen and Sara about it (don't miss our book club discussion that just released Wednesday!), and I loved our book club chat on Instagram. It's so fun to learn about the experiences other readers have had with Anne and her adventures!

Julie Tieu's The Donut Trap ( | - Oh my goodness, this book was so good! I listened to it on audio thanks to Libro, and it was excellent. I shared my review of this one recently as one of our Friday Book Reviews. You can't go wrong with this one. The descriptions of the donuts and the tender sparks of a budding relationship are both so great in this romance novel! I also love Jasmine's consideration of her parents' lives and their sacrifices as refugees striving to make life better for her and her brother. Despite her appreciation of their struggles, she realizes that she has to find her own way forward outside of the donut shop the family owns, and this central conflict is richly explored. And her romance with Alex? Love it!

*I also want to add that I'm currently reading Jasmine Guillory's Royal Holiday ( | right now (which Sara recommends on Wednesday's episode - don't miss it!), and it is also a perfect fit for this list. Fast and fun and full of hope.

Do the seasons affect your reading life? What works for you? What's a book you loved and would recommend? Let us know in the comments below or on Instagram!

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