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Top Books for Fall


There are so many reasons to love fall ---- the weather, comfy sweaters, the leaves changing, bonfires, Halloween, Thanksgiving. But I think my favorite part of fall is that inexplicable cozy feeling that makes me want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, a candle burning, and a great book.


This book list could've been endless, but I had to narrow it down to the best of the best. These reads give me the ultimate autumn vibes, with some being more spooky or haunting, some surrounding academia, and others being more cozy and heartwarming, but all have amazing stories that will keep you glued to the page and your comfy couch.

 

I read the majority of this novel one rainy Sunday October night last year with a cup of tea on the couch, with my favorite candle lit for ambiance (which, by the way, is Autumn by Bath and Body Works and it is the best candle of all time). The story follows an unnamed narrator, who marries an older man she meets in Monte Carlo and follows him to his estate called Manderley in the English countryside. She becomes obsessed with his late wife, Rebecca, who the narrator believes her husband and all residents at Manderley still love. As she unravels Rebecca's life and death, she discovers secrets that haunt the estate.


This is a classic for a reason. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once the narrator arrives at Manderley, things start to pick up and I couldn't put the book down. I will say that the narrator annoys me most of the book and can seem very childish, but that didn't stop the suspense from oozing through her words. There are are a few twists, including one at the end I actually did not see coming, and I loved the abrupt and intense last few pages.


I think this is also a good book to pick up if you're looking to get more into classics as it is more absorbing and engaging than other classics I've read. There have been a few adaptations of this novel, including the Oscar-winning Hitchcock film in 1940, and also a more recent one on Netflix starring Armie Hammer and Lily James. I screened the recent Netflix version and I definitely prefer the book (but that usually happens with me).

 

Ah, Cormac McCarthy. He is truly one of the greatest of all time. His words cut through your soul, his stories are devastating, yet there is somehow inexplicable beauty in all of his novels. I read The Road during the fall of my senior year of high school, and I will never forget the heart-wrenching ending that stayed heavy on my soul for weeks after I finished it. Okay, maybe I shouldn't be putting all of this in the beginning of the review and I don't want to scare you off, but I have to warn you, this novel is not for the faint of heart (none of McCarthy's works are). But the journey is so eloquent, so moving, so provoking, it's worth it.


The Road is a post-apocalyptic novel about a man and his son as they journey across the barren land towards the coast in hopes of finding any remnants of human civilization. I've read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction over the years, but no story has ever hit me the way this one did. It's simple in its premise and delivery, yet this somehow heightens the emotion and intensity. There's something about post-apocalyptic fiction that screams fall to me. The man and his son have to brave the elements in order to survive, creating a suspenseful atmosphere that makes me feel grateful to have a warm home.


I remember turning the pages anxiously, sneaking reads in during my shift at the Durham restaurant Parizade, and finally finishing the entire novel in my car before I left work. I sat in my car for probably twenty minutes after I finished, attempting to process as tears streamed down my face. And that memory has never left me, that feeling has remained, and I have no doubt it would do the same to any reader who picks it up.

 

The Ex Hex has been all over bookstagram and I've been looking for a light and fun fall read and this seemed like the perfect one.


This witchy story starts out with Vivi Jones drinking vodka in her bathtub after getting her heart broken. In a moment of weakness and intoxication, she accidentally hexes her ex. Years later, that dreamy Welsh ex comes back into town and she realizes her accidental curse was more powerful and dangerous than she had intended.


I've had my issues with romantic comedies over the years and while it is still not my favorite genre, a fun and absorbing romcom can really pick me up out of a reading slump. This one gave great Halloween vibes, set up scenes really well, and there were conflicts outside of just the love story, which is necessary for me to enjoy a chick-lit book. While it was still predictable and sometimes my eyes rolled at the descriptions of the steamier parts, I think it's a great October read for fans of the genre. It made me want to cast my own spells with candles burning and perhaps a glass of red wine on a stormy autumn night.

 

This might be one of my top classics of all time. I read this book as required reading the summer before my senior year of high school and fell in love.


If you don't know the legendary plot, Jane Eyre centers around Jane, a girl who always felt like an outcast, and follows her as she is hired as a governess for the brooding and mysterious Rochester at his estate in Thornfield Hall. I don't think it's a spoiler to say they fall in love, but there are secrets hidden in Thornfield Hall that threaten to unravel the life Jane has created.


Part love story, part mystery, part coming-of-age, this novel is unique in its moody atmosphere that makes it perfect for fall. I felt connected to Jane and very present in the story. There are so many aspects that make this a true and unforgettable classic: the descriptions of Thornfield Hall, the strange mannerisms of Rochester, the twists and turns of the book, but especially, the growth of Jane and watching her find her identity and confidence.


If you're looking to try more classics but are wary of the genre, Jane Eyre is a captivating story that transports you to the past, all while sitting on your reading chair with a cup of tea in your hand.

 

I'm throwing in a personal development book into this list because I know that for me, autumn always reminds me of a new school year and getting organized and settling down for productive months ahead. While I might be years out of school, I still find myself wanting to instill some good habits and up my reading, exercise, and productivity (before I inevitably hibernate for wintertime).


While my all-time favorite habits book is Atomic Habits by James Clear, this is a close second. Gretchen Rubin has a very distinct voice and uses many anecdotes to drive home her points but it worked for me. She gives practical and helpful tips on making and breaking habits, and for me, step-by-step instructions on what I should implement in my routines is the best way for me to build new habits.


I always read a chapter or two of a personal development book in the morning with my coffee and I think that's a great way to get the most out of this book.

 

One of my favorite BookTubers (YouTubers who review books) raved about Piranesi and specifically suggested reading it in the fall because of its eery and haunting atmosphere. I picked it up a few weeks ago and was not disappointed.


This strange and fairly short book opens with a man named Piranesi who believes he has lived his entire life inside this never-ending building of statues and corridors and great halls. He happily explores this labyrinth, fishing for food and writing in his journals. There is one other person in this world --- a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week to research the labyrinth and discover the secret to unlock an old and powerful knowledge. As the story progresses, you realize that Piranesi is stuck inside this world he knows little about, and his own reality begins to unravel.


I love an unreliable narrator. It feels like you're piecing together a mystery even as the main character is unable to do it for himself. This book was beautiful and haunting, a puzzle begging to be solved, and I loved every moment inside its eery pages.

 

I suppose since autumn signals back-to-school for a lot of people, it is the perfect season for diving into books surrounding academia (bonus points if it is set during the fall season or is somehow haunting or creepy).


This book centers around Zachary Ezra Rawlins, an introverted graduate student who is way too into his books and love of reading (sound familiar?). He discovers a mysterious book in his school library and reads something that shakes him to his core: a story from his own childhood. He begins a desperate search to find out how his own life came to be recorded in a book, and that search leads him to a secret club, an ancient library in New York, and a magical world that is hidden beneath the surface of the earth. Zachary learns of the sacrifices countless souls have made to preserve the sanctity of story-telling, and he begins to realize he may have to make a similar sacrifice.


The Starless Sea has everything I adore about fiction ---- a story rooted in magical realism, a main character obsessed with books and adventure, and the most enchanting prose I've read in years. Time and time again, this book filled me with that giddy, heart-skipping excitement that I get when I read a story that makes me feel like the fantastical is hidden behind a door that I have yet to discover. I feel like a child again when I read books like this one, hopeful that magic exists if I'm observant enough to find it. Honestly, if I were to write a fictional book, it would be extremely close to this one, and the fact that I was able to dive into a story that speaks to my book-loving soul was the most marvelous reading experience I've had in a long time.


If you're anything like me and relish the possibility that magic exists right under our noses, I think you will love this book.

 

Few books have been able to surpass the amazing, tangible, autumnal atmosphere of this novel. I swear I could hear the leaves crunching and smell the bonfires Donna Tartt describes. This book has also been the pillar of the new internet obsession called 'dark academia aesthetic' (you can Google it to get a sense of what the heck I'm talking about). It is probably my top recommendation if you're looking to get into the autumnal spirit.


The Secret History follows a young man as he enrolls in a college in New England and befriends a group of strange misfit students, all who worship their Greek professor. You learn from the first chapter that they commit a heinous crime, although the novel then goes back and tells the entire story, both leading up to the event and the years after. In theory, the mystery of 'who done it' gets taken away, but the thrill of this book continues long after the last page.


The characters are very unlikable (at least for me). They are pretentious, careless, and consider themselves elite. It's strange to read an entire 559 page book and never grow to like the characters. But this is surprisingly what makes this book so impactful. There were so many points in the plot that I was screaming, that I was rolling my eyes, that I was pissed off at every single person, which made this book hit hard. The narrator's thoughts haunted me, as they haunted him, and the anticipation of them all getting caught was lurking behind every page. The ending shocked me, and the last few pages left an eerie feeling inside of me that I couldn't shake for days, and isn't that exactly what a great book is supposed to do?

 

Don't forget, you can shoot me a message through the 'Personalized Recs' page if you want more recommendations. Tell me some of your reading goals, favorite books, or what you want to read more of and I'll send you some recommendations I think you'll love.


Stay safe and happy reading!

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