Sunday, September 24, 2023

Autumn Reads & Creating a Library Catalogue

"Ah, September! You are a doorway to
the season that awakens my soil."

Now that it's officially autumn and the days are cooling and more colourful, I find myself eagerly turning towards those books that make me feel cozy. When leaves start to jig in the brisk winds—and what fun it is to watch them while we sip our tea in the sheltered area of the garden—it makes me want to pull my sweater closer and settle in with a book that is rich in colourful autumn descriptions. I like books that draw me into the season, whether it's poetry, a nature anthology, or novel. I like books that evoke a sense of place and offer a place that shelters. And I like books that inspire me to create and do something fresh with my days.

My collection of autumn books is small but growing. Miranda Mills on her lovely YouTube channel often has me clicking through to purchase yet one more of her wonderful seasonal book suggestions. Goodbye, Mr. Chips and The Fortnight in September are two I bought this year on her recommendation. I have already read both and loved them. Here are a few other of my favourites for this time of year:

Anne of Windy Poplars
by L.M. Montgomery
(chapter one opens in autumn)

by Susan Branch
(a lovely seasonal recipe book)

Autumn Anthology
edited by Melissa Harrison
(seasonal essays and poetry)

Cat Among the Pigeons
by Agatha Christie
(novel set as a new school term begins)

Death Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James
(the Darcy's host a ball in October)

The Fortnight in September
by R.C. Sheriff
(a family takes their annual holiday)

Garden Maker 
Growing a Life of Beauty & Wonder with Flowers
by Christie Purifoy
(see autumn harvest chapters)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips
by James Hilton
(this classic is set in a boy's school in England)

The Life Giving Home
Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming
by Sally and Sarah Clarkson
(see the autumn chapters)

Nature Writing for Every Day of the Year
edited by Jane McMorland Hunter
(short daily seasonal pieces) 

Recipes for a Sacred Life
True stories and a few miracles
by Rivvy Neshama
(not autumnal, but nice reading)

Roots & Sky
A Journey Home in Four Seasons
by Christie Purifoy
(look for the autumn section)

by Rosamunde Pilcher
(novel set in Scotland in the autumn)

The Stubborn Light of Things
A Nature Diary
by Melissa Harrison
(see autumn entries)

creating a library catalogue

On other news concerning my books, as you may recall, we are in the midst of some house renovations, painting and replacing worn floors. So, at some point, my books will all need to be boxed and moved for paint jobs and new flooring installation. Perhaps that's what's driving me to get them catalogued—with a master list I'll know where to find them when I want something particular. It'll be weeks (maybe months?) before things sort back into that 'everything's-back-in-its-place' stage.

In all the years that I've owned books—and I've had books to call my own since I was a little girl—I don't think I ever created a list or catalogue. I might have done as a girl. I left the children's books for my younger siblings when I left home and took only a few young adult favourites. I housed my small collection on a shelf, dusting and lovingly caretaking them. I always knew what I had and where they sat. Everything was strictly alphabetical by last name. No worrying about categories or separating fiction from nonfiction.

But over time the collection grew. Now I have quite a few, even though I cull what I no longer want or need. My mind doesn't always remember exact titles or authors as brilliantly as it did once, so if I am to keep track, I need a simple catalogue: two main sections, fiction and nonfiction. I separate children's fiction from the general adult fiction; otherwise it's all alphabetical by author's last name. Under nonfiction, I have five categories: Christmas/winter, General, Poetry/essays/anthologies, Reference, Writing. Also alphabetical by author. No Dewey decimal system... as much as I appreciate the fellow who designed that wonderful system.

At present count, I have nearly 800 books—which still doesn't include my food/cookbooks or my large coffee table and art books. The catalogue includes: title, author, category/subject, year acquired, where it's situated, if it's lent out (which is rare).

My mind boggles to think of the number of books I've gathered over the years. Dozens upon dozens bought, read, eventually given away with hundreds more still nestled on shelves under my roof. I've noticed something while creating this list. It brings renewed order to my books, and it gives peace of mind; which in turns creates impetus to re-read my way through my own library. Bring on winter!

Quite a few books are as yet unread, many of them found at library sales and thrift stores. I am a happy collector of books. They bring me joy, whether or not I've read them. When I scan through one, I'm always filled with that anticipation of the day I'll read it in earnest. I just know it'll be good, otherwise why would I hold onto it for so long—it's been years for some. 

I have learned not to force read books when it's not the right timing. I sincerely believe there is a right time and place to read certain books. And reading them when we're not quite ready for them can turn what should have been a joyful or life-giving experience into a loss. How do I know when it's not the right time? When the words drag on, when I read the same page over and over because I can't quite get into it. When my heart isn't in it. So, how do I know when it is a right time? When I'm drawn into the writing, either by the beautiful writing itself or by the topic that is so relevant to me at the time. When I'm instantly engaged and I feel like my soul is being watered and fed. When the still small voice says, read this now. I have read books when I wasn't ready for them and at the time I said, yah, it was okay, but meh. And then times passes, maybe even years, and I will be pulled back to the book (grateful I hadn't chucked it into the give away box). I'd start reading and this time it would blossom in my heart, and I'd think, well, I obviously wasn't in the right space when I last read it, this is so good, just what I need! Learn to listen to that, is my bit of unsolicited advice.

It's Sunday evening as I'm wrapping this up; I meant to have this posted earlier in the weekend. I glance out my study window - the sky is stunning. Our September has been glorious. Makes me so glad to be alive to see and experience it. Now, I want to wish you a beautiful week ahead, one filled with glimpses of heaven in unexpected places. Be well, be grace-lifted.

Heart hugs,

Photo credits:
(Top)Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay
(Bottom) Image by CongerDesign from Pixabay


  1. “Be well. Be grace-lifted!!”☺️Oh Brenda!!!!!☺️ I LOVE your expression!!!! “Grace- lifted!” May I borrow that??!! I would love to use that expression in a “bye for now” to a friend or at the end of a note!
    I was thrilled this morning to see that you HAVE been finding some time to send along some “September Thoughts to Savor!!”☺️ This must mean that your renovations are coming along!☺️So glad!!
    I really need an hour to respond to this blog! Sadly I need to make this comment short today so I will pick 1 thought related to your collection of books!! In the past few days I have been looking at “a little room” that I hope to turn into a little “Ann Haven.” My job with this in mind has been trying to decide how large a wall/ book shelf needs to be. I glance at the shelves I have scattered through the house that contain “my books;” some of long ago, some that fit into “categories: Christmas, spiritual, historical, vintage children books and on and on!
    Your expressions of your love for your books are so mine!!!!
    Someone might question “Why so many??”
    I have loved “my books” from the time I was a child … “who can explain it, who can tell you why….” ( a song from the musical “South Pacific!🤣) Well, reading what you have written this morning makes me happy!! Your words “justify” ( even tho deep down I don’t NEED to explain to anyone WHY I want all of these books) the joy I have seeing them “gathered” on various shelves or the joy I feel when I go looking for “September” books which I did a few weeks ago.☺️( I actually only found 1 ( May Sarton Journal) where I flipped through to her September diary pages to read about Asters, etc.
    Well, SO happy to see some of your September Musings! Have to scoot now!!!!! “Be well! Be grace-lifted!!!”🌝💗📚📚📚🍁🍂 ( Ann from Ohio)

    1. I always love your enthusiasm, Ann. Thank you so much for sharing some lovely thoughts. Kindred spirits in many ways! There is a real joy in just seeing our books sitting in tidy groups upon a shelf. Waiting patiently their turn to be read and savoured. It's still only September as I write this, so we're a long way off to Christmas, but I have been finding -- they serendipitously come across my path -- books that will be perfect reads for that time of year. And there is a thrill in knowing they are waiting for me. I'll be so happy to share those titles closer to the season. In the meantime, enjoy October and happy reading!

  2. My goodness, so much to comment on here!

    Your September book list is enticing. I have read a few on there: Anne of Windy Poplars, Death Comes to Pemberley, Garden Maker, Roots & Sky, Nature Writing for Every Day of the Year. But now I'd like to read Fortnight in September and September. I wonder ... do I still have time? There's only one week left in September!

    I have never created a catalogue for my library. I do have them all in one place (except for my bedside ones), but it would be good to have a list. I also don't use the Dewey decimal system. I tend to shelve my books in sections that feel right to me. As I sit here looking at my bookshelves, this is how they are categorized:
    Right behind my desk, under the window, are the children's low book shelves. (up to about age 10-12)
    Then, on the next wall in the tall shelves, the first three "towers" are dedicated to young adult fiction (including the Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder series). These are in the lower shelves, the higher shelves are Classics and Vintage books.
    Next is a whole section dedicated to my Folio Society books, of all genres.
    Next section: Series - Rhys Bowen, Jan Karon, Louise Penny, Frances Brody
    Teeny tiny section of books with my short stories in them
    Then, Christian fiction and nonfiction
    As I continue moving right:
    I'm fully aware that my way of categorizing is rather unique, but it works for me!

    Lastly, you have given me permission to Not Finish a book that is dragging on, that my heart isn't into. I'm one of those people who had it ingrained that you finish what you start. But! Perhaps it isn't the right season for it! And it's okay. Maybe another time. I can't tell you what a relief that thought is.

    Thank you for such a hearty post, Brenda. So much to chew on.

    1. It's taken me such a long to time reply to your lovely comment, Joy. Thank you so much. I think you have settled upon a great catalogue (even if it's not written down) that works perfectly for you and your books. I think we have to find our own way - find the way our own minds work and organize things. As you say, then it works for us.

  3. Oh Brenda your list of autumn reads sounds wonderful. It is such a great insight too regarding that certain times may not be right for a book but that may change with the changing of seasons of the year as well as life. Hard to say goodbye to September but am looking forward to October and the golden colors that will soon be dotting our hillsides. Have a lovely week friend. Hugs!

    1. Thanks, Debbie. I'm hoping October will be a much cooler and more delightful month for you - in every way! xo

  4. When I was in high schoo, I worked as a library page who put the books away.

    So I'm intrigued by your library catalogue of 800 books. Will you use a webite or app?

    Because I'm basic, I use Excel to catalogue my teas.

    1. P.S. I've used GoodReads to keep track of the books that I've read.

    2. Like you, Margie, I'm basic - using Excel to catalogue my books, nothing fancy. I have used GoodReads in the past to keep track of books I read, but I haven't lately. Right now it's just keeping a simple yearly book/author list on my blog sidebar.

  5. What an interesting collection of Autumn books, Brenda. I do enjoy Rosamund Pilcher's writing. And how I agree with you about there being a time to read and a time when a book just isnt right for that moment. I go back to so many of my childhood books and recently rediscovered my very old hardback copies of the Pollyanna stories.

    1. I used to love the Pollyanna stories. I never felt, like some, who thought Pollyanna was a foolishly optimistic child, "an orphan with an unjustifiably optimistic attitude". Why shouldn't that be valid? I'm glad you are enjoying her again.

  6. Dear Brenda,
    Once again you've given me much to chew on. I was inspired by your post and went around the house counting my books, of which there are about 500, not including children's picture books. You are very organized with the way you shelve your books. Me, not so much. I have smaller bookcases in a number of rooms and tend to sort them according to type or author. One bookshelf, I confess, I organize by colour. It's in the guest room, and I love wandering through and seeing the various shades of green and blue, red and yellow. A librarian would be horrified, but it pleases me. Louise Penny, Rhys Bowen, Rosamunde Pilcher, L.M. Montgomery, and Agatha Christie's books are all shelved in a group by author.
    I love your thoughts on the timing of reading books. I have books I still haven't read and intend to one day, but the time is not quite right. Having unread books is a richness of anticipation.
    Many of your autumnal favourites are mine, too, but there are a few I will be investigating.
    Now I'm back to unpacking from our long trip and sorting out the kitchen and laundry. But I'll be mulling over my book collection and this post while doing so.

    1. Your bookshelf in the guest room, organized by colour, sounds like a treat for the eyes. That's the thing with having one's own library, we can set them in ways that please our own sense of beauty and order. Enjoy settling back into home routines - I think autumn is a fine time to arrive home and cozy in. Thanks, Lorrie, for sharing! xo


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo