Seasonal reading is the practice of choosing your reading material to match the moods and seasons of the calendar. Here’s an exploration of this reading method, and why every bookworm should give seasonal reading a try.
When a good author writes a good novel, they’re keenly aware of the setting and tone of their story. These things create that oh-so-important immersive quality that allow readers to escape into the novel’s world.
As a reader, you can take that experience a step further by aligning your current, real-life setting with the world in the novel.
You do this by being intentional about when and where you read certain books, saving those books for the right time and place. For instance, you might read Heidi on a trip to Switzerland, since that novel is set there. Or you might read A Christmas Carol at Christmastime, to underpin the festivity of the season.
Sometimes you might not match the exact setting or holiday in the novel, but you can mirror a book’s tone by reading it at a particular time of year. This is called seasonal reading.
I’ve been a seasonal reader since junior high. I was an avid bookworm by then, and I began to realize that certain books evoked certain seasons. The books I read in summer were lighthearted–stories about vacations in the countryside, treasure hunts, adventures at sea, and lazy, hot days.
Fall became my season of choice for pensive, melancholy books, gothic novels, and anything with a haunting loveliness. In winter, I dove deep into rich, meaty classics; and in spring I looked for books with hopefulness, change, and humor.
When you begin reading seasonally, you discover a delightful anticipation as you plan and look forward to each change in the year.
Directing your reading life in this way also makes you a more active reader. It does the extraordinary thing of letting you take part in the world-building that the author began, opening a portal of interaction between you, the author, and the story. As Henry James said, “a novel is a living thing.” You can feel that pulse of life a bit more clearly when it syncs with your own.
Of course, mirroring a book’s world with yours isn’t the only meaningful way to read. Mood reading has its place, too. Or reading for mastery of a certain subject, author, or period. There are countless other reasons and methods for choosing your reading material.
But I promise you you’ll find a richness that can’t be beat when you engage in seasonal reading. It makes every book more memorable.
How to Become a Seasonal Reader
Take a look at your TBR (to be read) list and circle a few titles that you think would be a good fit for the upcoming season. Your reasons for assigning a particular book to a particular season don’t have to make sense to anyone but you! While I enjoy tackling long classics in deep winter, you might associate them with summer, and that’s as you please.
Move the “seasonal” titles you selected over to your short-term TBR (The Book Lover’s Companion has these pages). Then, do a little research to check where you can get each book (library, inter-library loan, bookstore, etc.) and make a note of that. Now, when the seasons shift you’ll be able to jump right in with seasonal reading!
In future, when you add a new book to your TBR, make a note with a brief summary of the book’s premise, as well as what time of year you’d like to save it for.
After you grow accustomed to being a seasonal reader, you’ll start to get a feeling in your bones at certain times of year. You’ll smell a bit of autumn in the wind on a late September day, and suddenly you’re itching to wander the moors with Jane Eyre. Or a wave of summer heat will make you want to run off to sea with Captain Jack Aubrey.
Go ahead and follow those promptings. Immerse yourself, and watch your reading come to life.
A Curated Seasonal Reading Experience
Want a bit of seasonal reading delivered straight to your doorstep? You may want to subscribe to my Seasonal Reading Box! With boxes delivered quarterly, you get to anticipate each new season with a book to match. And because reading is always better when you have something to sip along with it, you also get a tea, hand-picked to pair perfectly with the book.
Seasonal Reading Book Lists
Tea and Ink Society has a few book lists that go particularly well with certain seasons, and I’ll be adding more lists like these in the future!
For summer reading:
- 8 Nautical Novels That Will Make You Want to Run Off to Sea
- 5 Haunting, Suspenseful Summer Page Turners
- 7 Books to Pack on Your Next Beach Vacation
For fall or winter reading:
For holiday reading:
- Christmas: Classic Christmas Short Stories You Can Read for Free
- Valentine’s Day: 5 Melodramatic Novels for Hopeless Romantics
- St. Patrick’s Day: 6 Books That Will Sweep You Off to Ireland
Are you a seasonal reader? What kinds of books do you associate with the different seasons?