October is like the Monday morning of months—the weekend is over, you’re likely to be tired, and the work week ahead looms over you like a dark, wintery cloud…
Though summer is decidedly over at this point, ending with the last few sunny days we have in September, fall does have its own perks. There are a number of great activities that come with the changing of the seasons as the leaves brown, the air gets crisper, and the drinks get significantly more pumpkin-spiced.
If you have difficulty with the changing seasons, we have something to make this transition a little easier. Here is a list of the top five stories—books, plays and poems—that deal with change. These stories will not only help you come to terms with changes in the weather but also with any other transitions you might face.
1. Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie
Read time: 3 hours and 46 minutes
Genre: Adventure fantasy, Young Adult
Similar to: Fantasy classics, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.
Let’s begin with one of the most famous stories about someone refusing to change: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Originally written as a play, Peter staves off adulthood to continue having adventures and living a life of innocence and imagination. However, Barrie is careful to show how Peter’s choice also means he misses out on the love of a family. As much as Peter Pan is a story about the wonders of childhood freedom, it also demonstrates that while growth and change can be hard, they are a necessary and beautiful part of life.
Author: Rainer Maria Rilke
Read time: 1-2 minutes
Genre: Impressionist Poetry
Similar to: The work of British poet W.H. Auden deals with similar existential themes, with Auden often citing Rilke as a major influence on his language and imagery. Try Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks” or “As I Walked out One Evening.”
Oh, childhood, what was us going away,
going where? Where?
Also a narrative about childhood, this poem captures the bittersweet feeling of time—it can often seem mind-numbingly slow, yet change can happen in an instant. The child narrator describes the plodding of time in a classroom, made worse by his loneliness. It is a poignant and melancholy poem that ends with the child looking at his reflection in the water and wondering where life will lead. The poem’s final line, “going where? Where?,” evokes a feelings confusion and loss of direction many have felt. If you are currently facing a major change in your life, you may find some comfort knowing that it’s not uncommon to experience anxiety and confusion when facing an unknown future.
Author: James Joyce
Read time: 2 hours 8 minutes
Genre: bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel
Time is, time was, but time shall be no more.
This famous coming-of-age tale was Joyce’s first novel and is still widely studied today. It follows the path of Stephen Daedalus from childhood through adolescence. Throughout the narrative, Stephen undergoes major changes in character and consciousness to become the young man he is at the novel’s conclusion, when he leaves Ireland for England. Stephen’s new identity develops in spite of his family, peers, and Catholic upbringing. His story is an inspiring one that teaches us to prioritize our own personal growth and development over pressures from outside forces. Most importantly, this novel emphasizes the positive side of change as a chance for transformation and self-discovery.
Author: Jack London
Read time: 32 minutes
Genre: Short adventure novel
He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken.
London’s short adventure story follows Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch Shepherd dog, who is stolen from his life as a domestic pet to become a sled dog in the Klondike region of Canada. Readers follow Buck as he is transformed from a gentle, domesticated animal to a leader of a wild, feral pack. While Buck’s journey is rough and brutal, he ultimately emerges a strong, triumphant figure. This inspiring tale illustrates how the hardest changes may reap the most dramatic transformations.
Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Read time: 1-2 minutes
Genre: Lyric poem
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
As it’s written in 1819, you might find Shelley’s language a tad difficult at first, but you will be rewarded for perseverance with a beautiful lesson about change and hope. The poem is said to have been written about the Peterloo Massacre of August 1819, which Shelley recalls with his foreboding language and use of Autumn as a symbol for death and decay. However, the poem inverts its own pessimism with its final lines: “O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” This line leaves us with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for times ahead. Shelley uses the seasons to comment on the cyclical nature of time and change—that good is sure to follow bad, and everything has its time.
These are only five of many stories that teach us lessons about change, transformation, and the passage of time. If you are facing a big change in your life, or even if you just don’t want to accept that it’s fall, these stories may prove useful in delivering the wise words you never knew you needed.