Now that we’re well into September, it’s the time of year when everything is starting to wind down, to move a little more slowly. We may still be busy, but the energy shifts. Our days unfold in a more steady, methodical way and with less kineticism. With the slowing down, and with October just around the corner, I’m always inclined to pick up art, books, media that feel both cozy and just a little bit spooky. I don’t think I’ll be able to read all of these, but they’re definitely all going to be added to my TBR pile. If you’re also ready for transitioning out of Summer and into Fall, but aren’t quite ready for something truly scary, picking up one of these books as your September read will hopefully achieve the right blending of cozy and spooky that preps you for the coming months.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club, by Craig Davidson
This is fun in the same vein as Stranger Things (the Netflix tv show). Maybe my impression of ghosts is that they are just the right amount of spooky, because this is the second book about them that I considered a good fit for this list. This 1980s-set book gives a glimpse of twelve-year-old Jake Baker’s life when he (mostly a loner, save for his conspiracy-theorist Uncle) befriends a pair of siblings and incorporates them into his life through the establishment of a “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” Alternating between warmth and sadness, the book seems lighthearted but confronts in a very deep way the wonder and horror of the world that we discover as children, and how it shapes us into the adults we become.
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
If you also enjoy spooky/cozy games, this might be the book for you. Filled with characters seemingly drawn from DND (Dungeons and Dragons), the book focuses on the new coffee shop opened up by Viv, an Orc Barbarian who has recently retired and moved into a second career as barista/coffee shop owner. She dreams of a fresh start in bringing the first coffee shop ever to Thune, but the city's shady underbelly might be her undoing. This book has gotten a lot of good reviews and I’m excited to pick it up.
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Wallace has to come to terms with being dead. This macabre premise actually belies a really sweet and earnest story about how we find purpose in our lives. With a sense of humor and a deep resonance, this book is a perfect transition between Summer and Autumn, asking us to pass through time as Wallace is made to – with attention to the details and a sense of meaning, and with the help of friends.
Tales from the Loop by Simon Stalenhag
Almost more a collection of images than a proper narrative, this is one of my favorite books to recommend to people who are looking for something slightly off-beat or who may just be more visually inclined. Alongside Legends and Lattes (listed above) this book also seems to exist in direct correlation to video games; this is what I imagine it would be like if a video game was transposed to paper. The book depicts life in a post-apocalyptic setting and has a sensibility very similar to Kentucky Route Zero, if you’ve ever played that. As soon as you open the book, you are left to just sort of wander through the world that’s been created for you to appreciate. An open-world video game concept as a book is my best attempt at encapsulating the gist of it, but it’s definitely art that you can take something meaningful from – its images carry a hefty sense of place and emotion.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
Finally, Stephen King is, well, king, of properly scary stories but he is so proficient at telling those types of stories because of his insight into human nature. With this book (that I have somehow not had the time to read yet) he applies those skills to a fantasy novel about a knocked-about seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the key to a parallel world where good and evil are at war and where he must do battle on the side of good. As he leads the charge, other fairytale characters and settings are referenced (along with some imagery belonging to King alone) that makes this both a denotative and original tale. It seems like a strikingly good time and if you read it, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I surely will.
I hope that these books will lead you into the cooler weather and help ground you in the beginnings of Fall!