For every read there is a season.
It’s funny how certain things are ingrained in us, as readers. There are summer beach reads, light and (usually) romantic fares, or about the complex relationships of families and especially sisters. Winter brings about Swedish noir, dark and unrepenting, with a (usually) tortured and deeply flawed hero who has an equal and opposite slasher/killer to go against. Spring is about renewal and hope, for romance as well as women who discover themselves, or invent themselves. And autumn, well, autumn brings out everyone’s serial killers out to play. Along with empty branches tap-tapping on windows, horror and terror elbow each other to line up first to be read.
Okay, the thing about me, and my love of every mystery genre, is that it incapsulates pretty much every season. I love my cozy mystery — in a small village, in an old English manor (bless you Agatha Christie). And I love my unblinking and dark Sweden where (as I read them) I do not believe that summers even exist. I’m actually more at home in a British mystery than I am in an American one — unless the American mystery features a hard-boiled private eye. This love of cozy mysteries stems from the fact that when I began to read books in English, for no apparent reason, I began reading Agatha Christie. Whenever I didn’t understand something, I would simply attempt to put it in context of the sentence and paragraph, and go on. And yes, of course I have a favorite heroine — who is, without a doubt, Miss Marple, she of the knitting needles, the first female sleuth in my life. I love her for her unwavering sense of right and wrong, for her quiet, gentle ways, and that she never got over her love, the one who died in the war (World War I). And, unlike others — looking at you, Hercule Poirot, she never cheated the reader, never withheld key evidence, and she was much more likable with a much smaller ego.
But the reason I was thinking of weather-related reads now, is that we got snow — finally, after weeks of drought, after unseasonable warmth that made my skin crawl, we got snow and we got cold. And with that, came Hanukkah — although there are no relations between the weather and the holiday — it is a holiday where we light candles in the dark of winter. And with Hanukkah, the family and I received a great deal of Happy Hanukkah congratulations and cards, including one from a friend who recently moved to Northern California. She also sent photos of her yard, where she and her daughter decorated pink flamingos in Santa hats.
It was an incongruous site — a green lawn, a sunny day, and Christmas-themed lawn ornaments. It’s true that it’s not going to be hellish hot where my friend lives, but she won’t get all the seasons, either. This brought the question of reading to mind — it’s all well to read according to seasons, but what if you don’t have any variation in your seasons? Would you just then read willy-nilly?
The answer is yes. I guess I would read whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like, with an occasional foray into fantasy and real literature, but mostly focusing on mysteries. Why not? I would do research, as I do now, to see what’s available, if there are new titles from the writers I enjoy, if there are books recommended to me by reviewers I trust (like Jason Sheehan), and then read regardless of the temperature or weather outside. What a novel concept! I am glad I have seasons to guide my reading by, but it’s certainly not the most important impetus. The most important thing for me as a mystery reader is to challenge my intellect against the detective and to be thoroughly entertained.