I don’t know about you, but the changing of the seasons can massively alter my reading preferences. I’m not a reviewer, and I’m not sent books according to a publishers’ schedule, so I’m free to pick and choose purely on a whim from the ridiculous amounts of books I buy each year. I very much read according to mood. Winter seems made for reading: the holiday period offers lots of free time, and the weather discourages you from heading outside. There’s something about the winter nights drawing in that makes me want to hibernate – the bitter winds, images of skeletal trees against a darkening sky – and at this time of year I tend to seek out the bleakest kinds of fiction.
I’m more likely to read fantasy at the change of a season – Spring or Autumn, perhaps, but whatever I read in winter needs to be bleak and thoughtful stuff. Summer is easily a non-fiction time of year, and around this time I read quite a bit of the literary genre. (Though, to contradict this, I remember reading David Peace’s 1974, which was one of the most miserably bleak crime books I’ve ever read, one very warm week in Summer.)
A tradition of mine, for the past few years, has been to read a Henning Mankell Wallander novel over Christmas – the bleak and minimalist Swedish thriller seems to fit my mood well, and it’s broken up nicely – in that typical thriller way – so that when I’m disturbed (mince pies, Christmas lunch) I can easily pick up from where I left it.
I’m currently clutching Sovereign, the latest C.J. Sansom novel – crime set in the 16th Century, and around this time last year I was also reading historical fiction – Umberto Eco, and another C.J. Sansom novel. I often wonder if there’s something about escapist fiction – good, honest, take-my-mind-from-here novels – that appeals most in Winter?