What Makes A Good Rainy Day Read?
I don’t choose books specifically because of a day’s weather, but there are some books that I associate more with rainy days than others. They are atmospheric, quiet, slow-paced novels that often feature plants or water in some way. They’re mostly books I associate with fall or spring.
I tried to make a list that included books from many different genres and not only magical realism/fabulism/contemporary fantasy, which for me are the Rainy Genres™.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found
This is the quintessential rainy day novel, at least for me. Not only because it’s set in Ireland and it’s raining in several scenes, but also because it’s a quiet story in which the atmosphere is the strongest point. It has the kind of writing that makes you feel the setting just as if you were in it, and it’s really mysterious, as it blurs the line between the real and the unreal.
Also, mostly-queer cast!
While this is a second-world fantasy novel, it’s set in a country that is vaguely reminiscent of Edwardian England, so yes, it feels very rainy. And it’s a really cute paranormal m/m romance with steampunk and mystery aspects, which I loved. It’s also short, so it really is a perfect rainy day read (and I really should reread it).
Are you looking for something creepy that has an atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife? Look no further. Especially if you liked Annihilation and/or want to read about gay girls and biopunk horror. The gloomy, lost atmosphere Wilder Girls has is heightened both by the descriptions of the flora gone wrong (a plant horror book that is specific about which plants there are in the creepy woods? I love that) and by the amount of body horror there is in this book.
The Wicker King
If you want something that is as gloomy and gay but less creepy, and that vaguely leans towards the fantastic instead of sci-fi, I recommend The Wicker King. It is, again, very atmospheric, and it’s the kind of story that makes you feel a lot. And the writing is… yeah. Anyway, gay teenagers trying their best in a world in which adults have failed them! Sad but hopeful reads really are the best.
The Queens of Innis Lear
A very slow novel about political intrigue following three sisters fighting for the throne, The Queens of Innis Lear is a King Lear retelling and also possibly one of the most atmospheric things I’ve ever read. More than a “rainy day” read, it could be seen as a “rainy week” read, and I can say that picking it up and reading it for a week in April 2018 was worth it. I associate it with rain mostly because its magic system is tied to earth and wells.
The Dark Beneath the Ice
This is a dark book in which water is a major symbol – both as an icy lake and as an overflowing river – so of course I associate it with rainy days. If you want an introspective horror read that is quiet, atmospheric, and full of a creeping kind of wrong, I really recommend this. Also, it’s f/f and has great anxiety representation in it!
When the Moon Was Ours
I consider When the Moon Was Ours the perfect fall read, so of course it’s also a perfect rainy day book, with its atmosphere and quiet feel and introspective, character-driven nature. Anna-Marie McLemore’s books are gorgeous and I think this is her best one, it’s everything that I like in magical realism and it has one of the best romances in YA (m/f, cis latinx girl/Italian-Pakistani trans boy).
The Raven Cycle
I usually avoid mentioning really popular series in my list posts, because if you’re here, there’s no doubt that you’ve already heard of them, and not because of me. But honestly, a post about rainy reads that doesn’t include this series is incomplete. It’s atmospheric, it’s weird, it has that ordinary magic feel, it has plant magic and witches and tarot… yes, it’s a very rainy series.
An Enchantment of Ravens
Again, if I see something as a perfect fall read, it’s also a perfect rainy day read, and the fun, romantic An Enchantment of Ravens is no exception. I recently wrote a post about what I feel has changed in YA over the years, and when I said that I wanted to see more fun books that didn’t take themselves too seriously, I meant books like this one. Also, I don’t see rainy day reads as something that needs to be gloomy and sad and heavy (even though some of the books on this list definitely are), fun and atmospheric is perfect too, and this has such a great atmosphere.
Other Rainy Recommendations
- The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton: a slow-paced paranormal story set on a rainy island. Very atmospheric, and if the plot if somewhat messy, the depression and trauma representation make up for it.
- Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: emotional contemporary! If you want the rain to fall from your eyes too, this is the perfect genre for you.
- The Imitation Sea by Lora Gray: this is one of the most gorgeous, vivid and painful things I’ve ever read and I can’t believe I had never heard of Lora Gray before. The lake atmosphere was… I want a novel of that. Anyway, this is a story about grief and dealing with the aftermath of a suicide (also implied parental homophobic abuse of the character who died), so trigger warnings for that.
- Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy by JY Yang: rotten ruin charm, witches, and knife-throwing lost girls? What happens when your past comes back to haunt you? This is one of my favorite short stories and it’s also very rainy, please read it
- Girls Who Do Not Drown by A.C. Buchanah: Manx folklore and glashtyn stories from the point of view of a trans girl who refuses to drown. One of the most atmospheric things ever.
What makes a book a rainy day read for you?