• Seasonal Reading Habits & You

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 4 comments

    With autumn fast approaching, it’s almost time to put away our summer books and look to the fall.

    That’s a thing, right? Don’t our reading habits shift with the seasons?

    I’m going to take a stab at diagnosing myself as a reader — what kinds of books do I turn to in which seasons —  and then afterwards I’ll consult my reading list to see how wrong I am.

    Your turn: How about you? Do you read different kinds of books in different seasons? Let us know in the comments.



    I feel like I read more short stories in the summer than I do in any other season. Hey, I’ve got stuff to do! What, I’m supposed to read a few pages here and there of War & Peace between beach outings and outdoor movies and ballgames? I doubt I ever settle in with a long novel during the summertime.



    Usually my thoughts turn to the places where I’ve seen the prettiest examples of changing leaves — including around Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, and upstate New York — and the writers who lived in and/or wrote about those regions. Especially with Halloween coming, the writers commanding my autumn attention are the likes of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Esther Forbes, and Charles Brockden Brown.



    This is when I’ll hunker down with long novels, especially the classics that have sat on my to-read list for years. Too cold to go outside, snow falling out the window, sun down and lamps on at five in the afternoon. What better time to take a long chunk out of Middlemarch?



    Yeah, you’ll still need to take a hot coffee and wear thick undies, but reading outside slowly starts to become an option again. My spring reading associations are Toni Morrison and baseball. Of the four or five times I’ve read Jazz, I think most or all have been in the springtime. And I read more baseball books now than I do in any other season, especially in March, with spring training in full swing and the season fast approaching.


    Now it’s time to explore my reading list and see how wrong I am!



    The longest book I’ve read in the past decade turns out to be Don Quixote, which my list tells me I read across… June and July of 2012. So, theory No. 1 shot all to hell!

    I do seem to read more short fiction in the summer than in other seasons though, at least from a cursory scan. So that part holds up. Summer, for me, is for reading in short bursts. Except for when I’m curious about a 1,000-page Spanish novel.



    In recent Octobers I’ve read The House of Seven Gables, Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly, and Esther Forbes’ A Mirror for Witches, along with “Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkleand others like them. So that one’s kind of on. When autumn comes, gimme some American Gothic.



    Winter is chaos. No discernible patterns of any kind. Maybe winter is my catch-all season. I do read more books in winter than any other season, which makes sense. But no, they’re not all long novels. In fact, few of them are. So… I dunno.



    Turns out I’ve read Jazz twice in November, once in February, and twice in July. Which means zero times in the spring, which is the exact opposite of what I said above.

    But I have read four other Toni Morrison books in recent Marches. Weird.

    Also, over my eight years of keeping a reading list I’ve read a grand total of, drum roll, four baseball books in March. One every two years.


    OK, that was fun, sort of not at all. And I’m not sure if it served any purpose. Except to get us, once again, to here:

    Your turn: Do your reading habits change with the seasons? In what ways? What kinds of patterns do you notice?

    What’s your favorite season for reading, and why? With autumn approaching, what books do you recommend we take a look at?



    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and has written for books for the Dallas Morning News, the Iowa ReviewElectric Literature, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a writing project you’d like help with or an idea to get off the ground, check out our coaching, editing, and publication services.

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    Barbara Mealer

    I read whatever catches my fancy at the time and isn’t related to seasons. I should probably keep a list but don’t bother. I just finished Stephen King’s On Writing, and am reading They Rode Like the Wind for the second time, this time taking notes for a book I’m writing. My reading habits are by whim of the moment. The number of books I read varies depending on my time and what I’m doing. Like now, I’m working two jobs plus writing. I do have time to read and do research on the part time job. but not a… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Speaking of Stephen King and cramming reading, I always love those photos/videos of him at Red Sox games reading a book between innings. Now *that* is dedication to reading. If I recall, in On Writing he writes at length about doing as much reading as humanly possible. I try to carry a book with me at all times. You just never know when you’ll get stuck on a line or miss a train and have twenty minutes until the next one comes.

    david lemke

    I love the way your reading changes with the seasons. My reading changes, but what I read doesn’t. I never have enough time especially since I’ve retired. (WHAT!?! I’ve heard that from others and didn’t believe them.) My reading changes in volume, more time in the winter unless I have to shovel. I read six books at a time. No, I don’t have twelve eyes. Where I am in the house or the universe dictates what I’m reading. I have one or a stack of books in six places; Bedroom, living room, office(real and kindle, car (audio book) and waiting… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Reading choices dictated by geography. I love that! The books don’t come to you; you go to the books.

    But if one book is in the bedroom and another is in the living room, and you want to read in the bedroom but you’re more invested in the living room book, what do you do?!?!

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x