That Time of Year–Fall Reading

If you are a Tolkien geek, you will know that September 22 is Bilbo Baggins’ birthday. The first chapter of Lord of the Rings, “A Long Expected Party,” is Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday, and the same day, seventeen years later, Frodo celebrates his last night in Bag End before departing Hobbiton with the ring.
The fall term is off to a running start, but what’s fall without new books to read. It’s the time of year I start rereading favourites, and it’s the time of year to look for something new—newly published or new to me. I recently checked on some authors I like to follow, and sure enough, they have new books this fall.
The fourth book in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co. series is out. The Creeping Shadow will not disappoint. As a rule, I don’t like scary books. I read my share of Stephen King in my teens and twenties, and I remember having to nerve myself up to read H. P. Lovecraft. Dracula scared the bejesus out of me. It’s as though I have little by way of defences against such books, and they get inside my head in a weird way.
Lockwood and Co. is a different matter—and not because it’s a young adult series. These books rise to heights of scary that will have you jumping at shadows. But I love Jonathan Stroud. The Bartimaeus books are fabulous, and Lockwood and Co. is an impressive follow-up to the earlier series.
Lucy Carlyle is the narrator of these books—smart, tough, often sarcastic, and one of Stroud’s more engaging characters. Lucy, Lockwood, and George –Lockwood and Co.—are teenage ghost hunters who dedicate themselves to dealing with “The Problem,” which is the fifty year outbreak of hauntings occurring all over Britain. I love these books, and I’m once again impressed by Stroud’s pacing in the latest of Lucy’s adventures. Young adult novels often move at a manic pace I find overdone and off-putting. Not Stroud. His writing has a control I would love to have in my own writing. Check them out.
Two other authors I follow have new books out this fall: Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan. Death Weavers is the fourth book in Brandon Mull’s Five Kingdom series. I don’t like these books as much as I did his Fablehaven series, but I’ll still read the new book.
Rick Riordan’s Hammer of Thor comes out in October. This is the second in Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. I have a soft spot for the Percy Jackson books, but The Heroes of Olympus series nearly turned me off wanting to read anything new by Riordan. He has much convincing to do if he wants people to think Magnus is the new Percy. I’ll set my expectations aside and read the new book anyway.
My marking life begins anew this week, so these are some of the books that will keep me going for the next while—these and those books I always turn to as the days get short and time gets shorter. Happy reading, and enjoy the fall. Get out there and kick some leaves. A music professor I once knew said that kicking leaves in the fall buoys the spirit—and he’s right.

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