Despite living in the autumn capital of the universe, I’m one of the few people who actually does not enjoy this season very much. Between annoying fall allergies and a deep hatred for cold weather, I’d gladly exchange the foliage and pumpkin spice aesthetic for three more months of summer. Alas. But that said, fall is ironically the only time of the year when I let the season influence my reading. I’m generally not a seasonal reader at all, but I do love using autumn as an excuse to prioritize some creepy and atmospheric books. So, here are just a few recommendations if you’re also in the mood for some good autumn reads:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. When you think of autumnal books one of the words that probably pops into your head is ‘gothic,’ and Rebecca is pretty hard to beat. It follows an unnamed narrator who becomes the second wife to the charming widower Maxim de Winter, who soon finds herself living in the shadow of his previous wife, Rebecca. It’s tense, immersive, creepy, and gorgeously written.
The Book Collector by Alice Thompson. Probably inspired by Rebecca, The Book Collector is a novella which follows a young woman obsessed with fairy tales, who marries a book collector who won’t let her read or touch the prized books he collects. It’s a deeply sinister story that deftly explores gender roles in fairy tales, while immersing the reader in a delightfully gothic setting.
This House is Haunted by John Boyne. Essentially a love letter to Victorian and gothic literature, This House is Haunted follows a young woman who takes up the post of governess at a creepy hall where she’s greeted by two children, with no sign of their parents anywhere. If you’re in the market for a good ghost story, I’d highly recommend this one.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Really, anything by Agatha Christie, but And Then There Were None remains my favorite of her books that I’ve read, and is decidedly the spookiest. Ten strangers are invited to a dinner party on a remote island, but when they arrive their host is nowhere to be found, and one by one they start to be killed off. This book is just genius.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. Set at a fictional university, If We Were Villains follows a group of students studying Shakespeare, who are all close-knit friends until one of them ends up dead. Campus novels in general make me think of fall with the whole back to school time of year, but this is also a perfect fall read because of one spectacular scene in particular where they put on a Halloween inspired production of Macbeth outdoors.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This list wouldn’t be complete without some proper creepy horror. Bird Box is probably the scariest book I’ve ever read. Set in a vaguely apocalyptic near-future, there’s something outside that drives people to madness and suicide when they see it, so in order to stay safe in this world, you can’t open your eyes. The way Malerman plays up the primal fear of the darkness and unknown is just brilliant.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. This is one of the most atmospheric books I’ve ever read in my life; if at all possible, I implore you to read this one in November when it’s set. It follows two characters on a fictional, fantastical Irish island, who are about to participate in a yearly event called the Scorpio Races, where riders race on the backs of feral water horses. It’s beautifully written and so wonderfully immersive.
As for my TBR… I’m finding myself in the middle of a hundred different reading obligations so I won’t be able to devote my entire month to creepy and gothic books, unfortunately, but I’m hoping to read at least one of these, all of which are on my shelves or on my Kindle:
Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
What are some of your favorite books to read in autumn, and what’s on your TBR this season? And have you read any of these? Comment and let me know!