Sunday mornings in the fall are just about the best thing ever. The nights are cool enough to leave the windows open overnight, leaving the bedroom cool enough to make curling up under a comforter with a cat and a book the ideal way to pass an hour or two.
Is it stereotypical of me to say that Fall is my favorite season? I like my scarves and sweaters. I like the coolness of the air, and the changing colors of the leaves. I like being able to use the oven without breaking into a sweat every time I walk back into the kitchen. I like that you can find pumpkin stuff (though it really is getting to be too much of a good thing. I mean, pumpkin spice vodka and spice scented cat litter? Whaaa…?).
I’m not such a fan of the new version of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte.
But I digress. I like the cooler times of year. Summer is hot, sticky, gross, and full of mosquitoes. Spring is lovely, but it smells weird and can never quite decide if it’s going to be hot or cold, or wet or dry. Sometimes it’s all of those. In the same day.
Fall is the best season. It’s quieter everywhere without the constant buzz of air conditioners, and everyone seems happier now that the heat has passed. Even the birds sound happier. Or maybe that just comes from the fact that I can have open windows, so I can actually hear them. It’s a toss up.
One of my favorite books was recently re-released with the author’s preferred text. Apparently, when Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was first published, back in 1996, the publisher worried that an American audience wouldn’t understand the deadpan British jokes Gaiman had written, and so asked him to take them out for the American edition. For the new release, those jokes have been added back in, and the text edited slightly to improve upon the descriptions of the places in London the characters end up in. I like these changes. They are very small, and if you’d only ready Neverwhere a time or two before, you probably wouldn’t notice them.
I’ve read this book so many times now. It’s one of those that I go back to year after year, despite the fact that I knew the plot inside and out. But I keep finding little things I’d never really noticed, especially now that I’ve been to London a couple of times. Actually being in the city and going to the Underground stations that Richard encounters in London Below makes for a richer reading experience.
My thoughts on Neverwhere could make up a long essay by themselves, so I’ll suffice it to say that it is weird and wonderful, dark and darkly funny, and when I stumbled across it in my little town’s general store, it was a mind-blowing change from the staid fantasy novels and otherwise unremarkable novels available to me at the time.
Gaiman’s other works (American Gods, Sandman, The Graveyard Book, and others) tend to get a lot more recognition, but Neverwhere will always be the one I love best.
During one of my trips to the local used bookshop, I picked up a copy of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. I’d never really heard much about it before, but I recalled seeing it on one or three of those “100 Books You Should Read Before/During/After/In General” lists you find floating around the Interwebs. I’m about 2/3 of the way through, and I find it to be altogether charming, and immensely readable. I care about all of the characters- even the ones I don’t really like (that has to be a sign of a well-written story), and Cassandra is one of the best narrators I’ve come across, even if she is “consciously naive”, and I’m eager, for once, to find out which of the young men she falls for in the end.