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My Carefully Curated Autumn Reading List

It is officially autumn, my fellow PSL-sippers and soup-slurpers. The land is slowly beginning to burn a fiery auburn and the wind has grown teeth. As Anne Shirley so fondly put it, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” My favourite thing to do during the autumn months is hole up in my favourite cozy spot, sip some Forever Nuts Davids Tea and read a good ol’ story. While curating this autumn reading list for you all, I really wanted to avoid rehashing the classics and pumpkin-spice it up with some more lesser-known picks. Somehow my fall reads all harbour a certain strangeness to them. I think spooky season brings it out of me. In any case, I hope you enjoy reading your way through this list!

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (2002)

Everyone knows Markus Zusak as the author of The Book Thief, a book which unequivocally broke the hearts of almost every living soul whose eyes have ever read over its pages. But don’t worry, because I Am The Messenger is as darkly humorous as The Book Thief is — well, just dark. Zusak brings the lonely and inept, yet madly endearing character of cab-driver Ed Kennedy to life through his writing, and takes us along on a nail-biting ride in Ed’s taxi. After accidentally stopping a bank robbery, the first ace arrives in Ed’s mail… The depth of this story still blows me away even years after I first devoured it. Read this story if you want to be surprised.

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl (1953)

Creepy title, huh. This short story is indeed quite creepy (it was made into an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, after all) — but not in the way you might expect. Going into this story blind makes it even more exciting, but I will tell you this: police detective Patrick Maloney tells his wife Mary that he is leaving her… and she does not take it very well. Let’s just say that by the end of the story, the evidence is “cooked.”

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (2018)

I had to throw an obligatory romance on this list, but this one is a bit of a wildcard. It’s the first book I’ve read that comes with a soundtrack. If you’re into vinyl, small towns in the South of England, or the 80’s, you will enjoy this novel. Frank, a sweet but frustratingly oblivious bloke, just wants to sell vinyl in his little beat-up shop forever. But the record of his life scratches to a halt when the mysterious figure of Ilse Brauchmann stops outside his shop window. After reading this story you’ll probably feel warm and fuzzy, and a little pissed off — but at least you’ll get an amazing playlist out of it.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)

There is a lot to unpack from this classic short story. Gilman paints a poignant picture of a woman experiencing postpartum depression. We live in her nightmarish reality within a patriarchal society where this condition was referred to as merely, “temporary nervous depression.” It will leave you chilled to the bone and bursting with feminist fire.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (Illustrated by Jon Klassen) (2015)

Kenneth Oppel is a Canadian children’s writer, but this horror/paranormal story is quite different from his usual genre. It is much more mature, exploring themes of anxiety, disability, family, and trust. A young boy is convinced that the otherworldly “angels” in his dreams will save his ill baby brother. Meanwhile, these creatures have a plan of their own… Reading this short novel felt like a haunting mystical trip.

There is a whole teetering stack of book recommendations I wish I could share with you, but these are the stories that made an impression on me through the years. I hope they move you too! Whatever you read this fall, I hope it shakes you up then soothes your soul 1000 times over. Happy reading my lovelies!

Julianna Marr

McMaster '23

Julianna is a 4th year Mechanical Engineering Student at McMaster. She is a co-op student by day and a singer/poet/foodie by night. You may find her daydreaming about bread, having one-sided convos with her chonky cats, or listening to John Mayer's Sob Rock. Most pertinent of all though, you will find that she is unequivocally a brobdingnagian dork.
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