…(An Alliterative Appellation)
…(Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.)
Hello fellow readers, and happy October! Something about Autumn, I think, is especially appealing to literary folk. C’mon: some adventurous novels, blue skies, chilly air?
Dark, rainy nights, pumpkin spice candles, and a glass of Merlot served alongside mysterious and chilling tales?
You guys know what I’m talking about.
‘Tis the reading season.
Awhile back, I comprised a list of autumn reads for kids/ teens for Hip Homeschool moms. (You can read that one on their Website, here.)
When I shared the list with a friend, she asked me what my autumn book list would be for adults. Not like “for adults,” but more like the, “unedited version.”
While all of the classics from my teen list would remain (because let’s be honest, most of us can still enjoy kid and YA fiction), there are also some fall-ish novels that I love but wouldn’t feel comfortable openly recommending for YA (and under) readers. Below, you’ll find a mix of all of the above making up my top 20 autumnal reads.
Autumn Classics (These are for Pretty Much Everyone.)
1.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- a unique heroine, a mansion with a dark secret, the test of love between two passionate souls, and a touch of magical realism that seems unique to the setting of North England. Jane Eyre is of my favorites anytime, but especially in fall and winter.
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte– Those Bronte sisters really knew how to weave together the feelings of a conflicted heart alongside the mystery of the English moors. Oh, Heathcliff—in high school I loved you, and as an adult I love to hate you. I still read about you and Cathy every year, though; your tortured and unhealthy relationship is undeniably haunting.
3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier– Again with that Cornish setting. But can anyone argue that the misty moors and the roar of the cold English ocean is just plain exciting and mysterious and lends itself so completely to thrilling and slightly spooky stories like Du Maurier’s Rebecca? Okay, no arguments? Good. (Sidenote: I can’t wait for the Netflix film version coming out later this month…just another reason you need to read this book this October!)
4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith- An uber cozy 1930s account of an English girl who aspires to be a writer and chronicles the eccentric characters and happenings around her. Yes, I know–another British one. *Anglophile alert*
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Hey, it’s an actual American novel (Arguably one of THE American novels.) Gatsby is another favorite novel of mine anytime of the year, and it’s arguably a perfect summer OR autumn read. The thrilling roar of summertime and its dreams takes up most of the book’s premise, but the momentum leads to the fateful first fall of the leaves…the end of summer and its illusions (and delusions).
Autumn YA Novels that Adults Will Enjoy Too
(Because Adults Actually Read Just as Many YA Novels As Teens Do)
6. Shiver (and Wolves of Mercy Falls Series) by Maggie Stiefvater –Not just another paranormal werewolf romance story. This New York Times Bestselling Author totally gets the raw emotions of first love. It’s a sweet and beautifully melancholy tale.
7. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare- You know that metallic, green book you’ve seen at Target with the washboard bare torso of a young guy on the cover? Yes, I’m actually putting that book (and the rest of the series) on my list as guilty pleasure-reads for autumn (but hey, I’m listing them all as “one” book. ) I’m not sure who was in charge of marketing/cover layouts, but The Mortal Instruments is only slightly about dudes with abs. It’s a fun supernatural series with lots of action and witty banter: a fun series for some bathtub reading on a chilly day.
8. Wintersong by S. Jae. Jones- Labyrinth meets Phantom of the Opera! I actually reviewed this one here. It’s a dark fairy-tale that fantasy lovers will gobble up.
9. The Diviners by Libba Bray- I’m actually reading this one right now: 1920s Manhattan, mysterious murders, a plucky flapper heroine, supernatural bumps in the night. Libba Bray is a great writer, and this book is actually pretty darn creepy for a YA novel. The characters are very teenager-ly…but the story is pretty adult (kind of like her Gemma Doyle series).
10. Warm Bodies by Issac Marion- Just your typical little post-apocalyptic love story/comedy/commentary on human nature (narrated by a Zombie.) Whatever.
11. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King – While not technically written for a Young Adult audience, this story is definitely appealing/appropriate for teens or adults. It’s a super cozy and engaging introduction to King’s Beekeeper series, which follows a retired Sherlock Holmes and the bright, young woman who becomes his assistant.
12. THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J. K. Rowling- If you haven’t read Harry Potter then you should. It’s okay to re-read it whenever you want, especially in fall. That’s all I have to say about that.
Not Your Kiddo’s Halloween Booklist (I think the category speaks for itself)
13. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon- Sweeping and kind of steamy historical/romance/adventure/quasi-fantasy that you’ve all probably heard of (because, you know, Starz). Because there’s some rough stuff in it, I don’t recommend Outlander to everyone, even though I personally have enjoyed what I’ve read of the series. The first books starts out with Clare stepping through standing stones in the Highlands during the feast of Samhain (Gaelic Halloween), which is one of the things that makes the first novel of this series a great October read.
14. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman– A profound, weird, creepy, adult collection of fantastical short stories. A dash of spooky and a dollop of thoughtfulness.
15. Dead Before Dawn (A Sookie Stackhouse novel) Charlaine Harris- A Cajun-infused chick-lit romance/ blood-and-gore/ mystery/ vampire novel. A little bit of a guilty pleasure but super fun (and amazingly successful given the amount of genre crossover).
16. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice- Arguably the most iconic vampire novel since Dracula. It’s fascinating and dark and compelling.
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker- This year was actually my first year reading Dracula (with my bookclub!) It was a slow-starter, but once I was hooked I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It felt much more “mystery” to me than horror. Teen kids would be okay reading this one, actually.
18.- 19. Rules of Magic/ Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman! I wrote a whole post about this series already! Read it here.
20. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman-the prequel to the last two books I mentioned! It’s currently next up on my nightstand, and I can’t wait.
There are so many books springing to mind now that I’m calling this list “done.” However, 20 seems like a good place for me to stop…for now. How about you? What are some books that scream autumnal, Halloweenish mystery to you?
I look forward to hearing about them!