My 8 Great Autumn Reads

Fall has come to Ohio full swing. Full swing. It’s my favorite time of the year, and I LOVE it when it shows up in my books.

Because of that, I decided it’s time for a list of books that reflect my love of fall AND my love of reading. For me, a good autumn read has darker themes, fall’s bright and muted colors, maybe some rain, and possibly something of the supernatural, I guess because of Halloween. If I’m lucky, the book may have some harvest going on, because that’s fall. Also, because of the time of the year, novels with school in them seem quite prevalent.

Check out my list and see if you agree with my picks, and drop me a comment if you think there are some in your top eight that I missed!

My 8 Great Autumn Reads — in no particular order

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Richard Pappen leaves his dreary West Coast family for a small Vermont college–partly because he falls in love with the thought of autumn in Vermont. There he is accepted into an exclusive major in Classics with an even more exclusive group of friends that he follows willingly into a psychological thriller. Beautifully well written and interesting, if a little long and rambling.

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I LOVE this book, especially for fall. The story begins pretty much on a college campus in the fall, and winds through Europe back and forth through time easily. Much of it takes place in the fall, AND it is a search for Vlad the Impaler’s grave, using historical facts to bring this eerie, spooky story to life.
  •  A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness. This is my all time favorite adult series. The first book starts at Cambridge (England) at the beginning of fall term, with all its rainy weather and eager students, and then travels over to upstate New York for all the fun of autumn in New England, including apples, jack-o-lanterns, and finally culminating with Halloween. Through in witches, vampires, and daemons — it’s the perfect autumn read!

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m not really sure why I consider this book to be an autumn read (are there parts of it that take place at Harvest in Massachusetts? Does the circus maybe appear in the fall?), but I do. Maybe it’s the mystery of the whole story, and the magical quality of it all, but it reminds me of fall.
  • The Cider House Rules by John Irving. Much of this book centers around apples and cider and harvest time. About the rules of life, and how those rules change and vary according to classes and cultures, but that morality should be the basis for everything. Beautifully told, and one of my all time favorite books.

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.  When a autumn carnival arrives in Green Town, James Nightshade and William Halloway, both 13, seem to be the only ones noticing the eeriness of it all. They learn that Mr. Dark, the ring master, can grant wishes for anyone, although there is always a dark price to pay, and that many in the town are willing to pay it. A wonderful, eerie classic full of spooky, foreboding fun.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) by JK Rowling. Really, any of the Harry Potter books. Back to school and all that North England or Scotland, hilly, autumn splendor. Quidditch, sweaters, robes, and big scarves. It all screams fall, and the onset of colder weather. And, of course, magic.

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.  The Brontës are some of my favorite Gothic authors, and I could have picked any of their books. They all scream autumn and then winter: the falling rain, the dampness, the bone-chilling eeriness of them all. But Emily won this one, although Charlotte was close behind with Jane Eyre.

Now you have a starting point, so get out your slippers, a fuzzy blanket, and a mug of tea and get reading!

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Eight Great Rainy Day Reads

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This weekend in Central Ohio is supposed to be rainy–thunderstorm rainy. The perfect weather to snuggle up under a blanket with a good book. I thought I put together a list of books that say rainy day to me.

Eight Great Rainy Day Reads

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Set in 1972, this is the story of a young girl on a quest to find her diplomat father whose gone missing. It doesn’t take long though, for the search for her father to turn into a search for Dracula. Story lines criss-cross back and forth through time and the characters traverse darker parts of Eastern Europe, giving readers a spectacularly spooky story within a mystery all wrapped up in a history lesson.

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Set in a 19th century English village, this is said to be the best novel ever written in the English language. This book is a look inside of the lives in Middlemarch, dissecting marriages and families in a most delightful fashion. Easily engrossing, this classic can get you through any rainy day, and then some.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t watched the series yet (I hear it is fantastic), but I know this book (and the series) is another multi-layered wonder. Set alternatively in post World War II and 18th century Scotland, this book spans many genres. Time-travel, romance, history, and adventure add up to a great read.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. The first book in The All Souls Trilogy, this is one of my all-time favorite series. Another great story that defies classification; it’s supernatural, mysterious, scientific, and romance-y. As the series continues, history and time travel come into play in wonderful ways. Harkness is a treasure.

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. The author’s backstory is almost as interesting as her novels: Raised in the The Children of God cult, Stevens was denied anything beyond a 6th grade education and was forced to either beg or do menial labor for the cult. Despite all of this, Taylor became an an author and created a wonderfully dysfunctional character in Vanessa Michael Munroe, a tough, brilliant woman unable to form real relationships, but able to use her skills and history (similar but very different to Stevens) to find out anything in the world, but especially in Africa. When she’s hired to find a billionaire’s daughter who disappeared in Africa, Munroe is forced to face her past in order to save herself and those around her. Wonderfully riveting and totally kick-ass!

The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault. A literary mystery set in the offices of a publishing company, editorial assistant Billy Webb is working on the next edition of a dictionary when he meets Mona Minot. Mona finds a series of mysterious notes hinting at a mystery behind the publishing company, and maybe a murder. The two set out to solve the mystery, but the mystery of the company, and themselves, continues to grow.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. When spoiled Madeline Hyde follows her disgraced husband Ellis and his best friend Hank to Scotland during World War II in search of the Loch Ness Monster, she learns more about herself and real life than she ever bargained. Part love story, part mystery, this one is hard to put down.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. If you haven’t read this literary wonder, get on it! After Jacob’s grandfather dies, he journeys to the small Welsh town where his grandfather lived only to discover that his grandfather’s bizarre stories and weird pictures were real, and that the children in that picture are alive, although the villagers claim they died years ago. Imaginative, wonderful, bizarre, and fun-and a great rainy day read!

So, that’s my list. Many are set in wetter climates, and most are book one of a series. All well worth starting on a wet, rainy day! Enjoy!