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Lovely autumn and winter reads

As it turns colder, cosy up and hunker down with a good read. We share five brilliant books to help you savour the season.

1. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

A chilling story to get you Halloween ready. This debut novel is a coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and dreamlike twists. Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. As night falls Li Lan is drawn into ghost cities and the Chinese afterlife as we cross between the worlds of the living and the dead.

2. Autumn by Ali Smith

Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, this aptly titled novel is the first in a seasonal quartet of books. The story centres around Elisabeth and her connection to her neighbour Daniel and jumps between what life was like when Elisabeth was a girl, to what life is like now as she visits Daniel – who is in a coma – almost every day. The relationship between Elisabeth and Daniel is representative of the season of autumn – a period of ageing, one that’s golden and mellow.

3. Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons edited by Melissa Harrison

Melissa Harrison is a novelist, children’s author, journalist and nature writer. She contributes a monthly Nature Notebook column to The Times and here has compiled diary entries, essays and poetry from across the British Isles arranged through the season from September to November.

‘Autumn’ captures both the joy and the gloom of this turning point in the year. Featuring original writing by Horatio Clare, John Lewis-Stempel and Amy Liptrot, classic extracts from the work of Ted Hughes, Helen Macdonald and Nan Shepherd, and a variety of fresh new voices, this is a memorable celebration of the season.

4. Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter by Nigel Slater

When not reading, autumn encourages cosy, comforting food. If you’re stuck with what to rustle up then take a look at this Sunday Times bestselling seasonal vegetarian cookbook. Packed with delicious and healthy plant-based recipes, Slater’s style shows such love for the ingredients he uses and the food he makes. This truly is autumnal too, full of warming, comforting flavours made with seasonal spices and vegetables such as squash, mushrooms, carrots, brussel sprouts, celeriac, oh, and there’s lashings of cheese and cream. All the warming things about eating as the weather turns.

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This is a classic for all ages to enjoy. An 11-year-old, freckle-faced orphan with a big imagination makes her home with an adoptive family on a farm called Green Gables. Anne’s description of the scenery at Green Gables captures the warmth of autumn. We follow this infamous red head as she grows from a girl to a young woman of 16 and finds her place in the world. Her optimistic spirit and wildly creative imagination charm the rural community of Avonlea. Part Tom Sawyer, part Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables is a great imperfect yet bold heroine of her own story.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  ― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Written by Jo Avery

Jo works in YHA's communications team, writing about travel and adventures for all. She loves curling up with a good book and a large mug of tea, ambling through wheat fields in Derbyshire with her family and dog and holidaying beside the seaside.

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Autumn guideLovely autumn and winter reads