Fall is here. The calendar says so and the weather will follow soon. We’ve already had a few windy, grey and stormy days that made me want to do nothing but sit inside. As I did I thought about the books that reminded me of this time of year. Here are a few books to revisit this fall if you’re looking for something seasonal.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë opens on a “dreary November day” and Jane has been banished away from her aunt and cousins while they warm themselves by the fire. She reads while catching glimpses of the scene outside the window.
“Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.”
Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre
Her cousins are warming themselves by the fire, but she is not invited. This scene will repeat itself later at her boarding school where the bigger girls stand in the way of the fire. The gusts of wind and unrelenting weather are also a motif throughout the book. The weather symbolizes Jane’s emotions and often foreshadows upcoming events.
Jane grows throughout the novel, from an orphaned and isolated girl to a strong woman who understands her own strength. She has weathered the storm. It’s a good lesson for those of us who will have to do so over the coming fall and winter.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
The Sound of the Wild Snail Eating is a 2010 memoir by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. It tells of her time being bedridden with a mysterious illness and how she found companionship with a snail. The snail appeared in a pot of violets that a friend brought to her and she spends nearly a year watching after the snail and learning more about its life.
“the sentence that best expresses a snail’s way of life: ‘The right thing to do is to do nothing, the place to do it is in a place of concealment and the time to do it is as often as possible.”
Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
It’s a beautiful quiet book that explores illness, nature, nurture, and companionship. I thought of it as a book for fall because of this peaceful nature. As we start moving indoors at this time of year, it is a chance to meditate more closely on the things that may get lost during other times of the year. She studies and learns about mollusks, but during the quieter months of the year we have time to learn more about whatever fascinates us.
Me Talk Pretty One Day
I thought of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris a few weeks ago as kids were going back to school. The book is a collection of essays by Sedaris broken into two parts. The first part focuses on Sedaris’ younger years in North Carolina while the second focuses on his life in Paris, where he has moved with his partner Hugh.
He does not speak French and many of the essays focus on his struggle to learn the language. In one essay, “Jesus Shaves”, he writes about a French class filled with students from around the world as they try to explain Easter to one another in broken French. It is beyond their ability, not only because they lack the language skills, but because they come from different traditions and beliefs. Sedaris closes the essay by reflecting on what is really missing in their conversation:
“In communicating any religious belief, the operative word is faith, a concept illustrated by our very presence in that classroom. Why bother struggling with the grammar lessons of a six-year-old if each of us didn’t believe that, against all reason, we might eventually improve?”
David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day
It seems that’s what this time of the year is all about. Faith that we can make it through fall and the coming winter. Faith that we will be stronger and smarter when we get to the other side. May you have faith that all things are possible as you enter fall.