Earlier this year, the New York Times took a look at the history of summer reading, which has apparently been an annual topic for the paper since 1897. (This is way earlier than I would have guessed.) Writer Jennifer Harlan notes that the concept “emerged in the United States in the mid-1800s, buoyed by an emerging middle class, innovations in book publishing and a growing population of avid readers, many of them women.”
Her history is excellent, but another quote near the beginning caught my eye—or, to be more precise, distracted me so much that it took me two tries to get through the article. In 1968, in the pages of The New York Times Book Review, critic Clive Barnes wrote, “Why summer reading? One doesn’t have winter reading, or fall reading (that I suppose would have too autumnal an echo).”
First of all, absolutely one has winter reading; some books beg to be read under a blanket and with a warm drink. But he’s even more wrong about fall reading. Too autumnal? There’s no such thing. And SFF is full of fall books no matter how you slice it.