I’ve never been a summer person. Growing up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meant that the summers of my childhood were mild and generally enjoyable, but even then summer never ranked high on the list as a contender for my favorite season. Now that I live in the desert and I have to suffer high temperatures year round…well let’s just say I practice a lot of mental gymnastics pretending it’s cooler outside than it really is. If you are ready to bid the high temperatures of summer goodbye and welcome some crisp morning air and leaves turning on trees, I have just the list of books for you. Crank down your AC, bake something with cinnamon, and don some cozy socks (mine have candy corn on them because I am a mature, adult woman). These reads will make you forget that we’re still in some of the peak high temperatures of summer. Of course if none of these recommendations tickle your fancy, you can always go crack open a Bronte novel – to my knowledge most of their books contain hardly a lick of sunshine.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
I am very aware that this is a graphic novel and it may be a genre that is new to you. It was new to me last year too. I had seen some friends talking about it online, and when I fortuitously saw it on the shelves at my local library, I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? What I did not realize was that I would devour this book in one sitting and immediately order it online to re-read multiple times throughout the rest of the fall season. The art is beautiful, the story is adorable, and it had me wanting to move to the midwest for a peak pumpkin patch experience. This is now my annual “welcoming autumn” read. It’s a perfect way to open the season, even if the rest of the world is still in summer.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I didn’t read this series until recently. Wow. I truly didn’t realize what I was missing out on. More importantly this book is the perfect fall read. It’s witchy, it’s set during early autumn in Oxford, and of course a certain delicious vampire doesn’t hurt the overall vibe. With settings like quiet old libraries and historical French chateaus, this book will transport you to cooler weather and the ultimate fall aesthetic. The plot moves quickly but the book also doesn’t skip over delightful descriptions of the lush settings that practically had me salivating. Trust me. This book will have you wanting to don a chunky, beige sweater or crisply tailored blazer and pack your bag for your doctorate in Oxford.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
This book doesn’t exactly take place during autumn but the nearly constant chilly weather of the Scottish Highlands still gives the book a cozy feel. I adore this book because it’s rather like a love story to books as well as a love story of two characters. This book has surly Scottish men, an ex-librarian obsessed with working with books, and descriptions of all sorts of delicious food that practically had me salivating. This book feels like being wrapped up in a soft blanket and given a cup of tea. The romance is sweet and meaningful and watching the main character’s journey to confidence and happiness is just the icing on the cake.
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
I listened to this book on audio a few years ago and it has stuck with me like glue. The Accident Season is rife with spooky vibes, Halloween parties, and teen drama that doesn’t feel overly angst ridden or over the top. It’s set in Ireland during October and I found it incredibly easy to lose myself in the setting. As an added bonus, if you do decide to listen to the audiobook, the performance is amazing and the narrator has a delightful Irish accent. While all of these things should entice you to read the book in and of itself, I also found the story to be heartfelt and moving and I was incredibly pleased by the wonderfully strong relationships between the female characters.
Toil & Trouble Edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tessa Sharpe
If you are looking for some amazing, witchy short stories, this pick is for you. I love anthologies. When my attention span is short and I don’t find myself reaching for a long, slow burn read, I almost always go for an anthology. I am also particular to seasonal anthologies. This one really takes the cake. Each story is incredibly poignant and interesting on its own and it’s a joy to find yourself lost in the worlds that each of the writers build. Kick start spooky season right with these stories!
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is another book I am tempted to read just about every year when I am feeling desperate for autumn weather. This book is rife with rich descriptions and gorgeously indulgent prose that will completely transport you from summer to a magical, mysterious circus. When I first read this book it took me a while to get into the story, but once it got moving the plot did not disappoint. This book feels like eating caramel apples next to a warm fire. The setting will completely devour your reality in just the best way. If you are one for longer, slow burn books this is the one for you. (If you are looking for something with a similar vibe but with a faster pace, I would recommend the Caraval series by Stephinie Garber.)
Grab your pumpkin spice and step into fall!