1. Fangirl + Carry on By Rainbow Rowell
At the very top of the list, the books that make me feel most autumnal. I listed these two together, as Carry On is the wildly popular spin-off of Fangirl. In Fangirl, we follow Cath as she goes off to college, and becomes more independent from her twin sister, who’s been by her side since birth. Between family struggles, her crush on her roommate’s ex-boyfriend, and keeping up with her extremely popular fan-fiction, Cath has a challenge ahead of her in college. I put it on this list because the way Rowell describes autumn is simply magical. Instagram-caption worthy quotes, to say the least. Carry On is the fan-fiction Cath writes in Fangirl, and Rainbow Rowell wrote and published it for us all to enjoy. It follows Simon Snow as he teams up with his best friend Penny and enemy Baz to finally defeat the Insidious Humdrum. If you like these two, and are itching for more Simon and Baz, the sequel to Carry On, Wayward Son, is out September 24th.
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I love this book, and anyone who has ever had a conversation about books with me can tell you that. The Picture of Dorian Gray is about Dorian Gray, and how his new friendship leads him into a life of hedonism and moral corruption. Also, he’s hiding a magical portrait that becomes more grotesque as he commits more sins, so that’s kind of a problem for him. I put Dorian Gray on this list because it’s sort of horror, but also because it’s a very cozy book. You might doubt me, but Oscar Wilde has a way of making murder sound lovely.
3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Many of you might be watching the Netflix Show, “Anne with an E” (the third season 3 is out September 22nd!), so you might be interested in reading the book behind the show– I highly recommend it! The way Anne describes the world around her is simply magical, and though the book takes place over the span of a few years, when Anne gets around to describing autumn at Green Gables, you’ll be instantly in the mood to cuddle up with a blanket, some apple cider, and finish the book in one sitting.
4. Poetry by Mary Oliver
This may sound like I’m recommending you read all of Mary Oliver’s poetry (which I am, by the way– just not here and now), but I’m actually recommending her 2005 collection. In this collection, you’ll find, “Song for Autumn,” a lovely poem about nature in autumn. Oliver’s simple and accessible writing style makes her a favorite among new and seasoned poetry readers alike.
5. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
Yes, I’m recommending another Rainbow Rowell book. I promise it’s worth it! Pumpkinheads is Rainbow Rowell’s second newest release, a graphic novel collaboration with Faith Erin Hicks. It follows two high school seniors, Deja and Josiah, on their last night working at their local pumpkin patch. On a mission to unite Josiah and his coworker-crush, the two experience the pumpkin patch for themselves, and form a stronger bond along the way. Do I even need to explain why this is a fall must-read?!?! Go pick up a copy for yourself!!
6. Maurice by E.M. Forster
Ahh, this is Maurice. E.M. Forester’s last release, published in 1971 after Forster’s death. The book follows Maurice as he navigates figuring out his sexuality in the early 20th century. This is a wonderful love story, and it’s particularly autumnal in the bit where we follow Maurice through his school days.
7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is my favorite book of all time. It follows a handmaid, Offred, as she navigates the dystopian version of America (now Gilead), and we piece together what went wrong. In all truthfulness, I’ll recommend it to you at any time of the year. However, I think it’s especially exciting in autumn, as it’s somewhat of a mystery. You could also call it horror, however, the horror isn’t a murderer or ghosts– it’s the scary direction our society might be headed. If you’re saying, “Ash, I don’t want to read the book, I hated the TV show!” I say to you– exactly. The TV show isn’t a faithful adaption at all. Read the book to cleanse your Margaret Atwood palate.
8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’ll admit, I’ve never read the Gone Girl book! This is on my personal autumn to-be-read. I have, however, watched (and loved) the movie, so I’m very excited for this one! Gone Girl follows Nick Dunne as he finds out where his wife, Amy, has gone missing, all while being investigated for her murder. A thriller is perfect for autumn, and I’m very excited to jump in!
9. The Secret History + The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I’ll group these two together, as they’re by the same author (and I want to fit as many books as possible into this list). The Secret History follows Richard, a freshman at a wealthy New England college. As he makes his way in with the Classics students, his life spirals downward into chaos and hedonism, and the students push the boundaries of morality a bit too far. Intriguing, right? This book is a perfect autumn read, as it literally begins with a murder. The fun twist is we know who the murderer is– we have to figure out the motive.
And while I’m here, I want to mention The Goldfinch! This Pulitzer-prize winning novel follows Theo both as a boy and as an adult, after he survived the accident that killed his mother, and is left with a small painting to remember her by. This painting pulls him into an exciting world of adventure as an adult, and the reader is along for the ride. The star-studded film adaption was just released, so I recommend reading the book before you head to the theater.
10. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
This is my current Autumn (re)read– it’s amazing. A prequel to Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic follows Frances, Jet and Vincent Owens as they learn how to navigate the magic they grew up without knowing, all in the ’60s. Almost every detail in this book is a spoiler to the plot, so I’ll leave you with this: this book is magical in multiple senses of the word. Witches for autumn, of course, but it’s also so well-written; you won’t want to put it down, which makes it the perfect read for a rainy autumn day you just want to curl up with a book on.