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Must-Read Fictional Books For Every Autumn Lover

If you are anything like me, autumn is the time of year you anticipate with a feeling of absolute bliss. Besides the arrival of fall leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, the colder weather that comes with autumn often brings us indoors snuggling under blankets with a cup of tea, hot chocolate, or apple cider. It is a time of solitude and reflection, to check in on ourselves as we get ready to turn a new leaf and plunge into new courses, student clubs and jobs. Books and movies provide the perfect escape from the overwhelming changes that sometimes threaten to engulf us. With Halloween just around the corner, many of us are binge-watching horror or reading suspense mystery novels. 

These days, not only has there been an increase in quantity in the number of books released, but there has also been a marked improvement in the quality of books being released, with a growing number of genres that appeal to different kinds of audiences. October is often associated with Halloween (which originated from the Celtic holiday Samhain) and just about anything horror-related, but this disregards other people who are not horror fans, and it is only fair to include them in the conversation as well. 

Here’s a list of newly released books with high acclaim that I think are definitely worth reading:

For horror fanatics: 

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

A teacher escaping military persecution in Bueno Aires arrives at a boarding school at the tip of South America that is rumored to be haunted by the Others. When one of her students disappear, she is inexplicably drawn to solving a mystery upon which her life depends on. 

The Institute by Stephen King

Luke Ellis is kidnapped and brought to the Institute, a place for kids with special abilities, after his parents are murdered one night. The Institute’s director and staff exploit the children for their powers, and as more children are punished for breaking its rules, Luke becomes desperate to escape.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson, an illustrious painter, murders her husband in cold blood one evening, and he is found with five gunshot wounds to his face. Ever since, she has not spoken a word, and Theo Faber, a criminal psychologist, is determined to break that silence. 

For crime and mystery addicts:

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim

Reseng, an assassin in Seoul with a love for literature, goes down an uncertain path after meeting three perplexing women when he breaks the rules of his job. 

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Jane, a Filipina immigrant, is selected to go to the Farm, a retreat in the Hudson Valley where women produce babies for wealthy clients and are not allowed to leave for nine months, but as her pregnancy advances, she begins longing to go back to the outside world. 

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

A team building exercise for coworkers at a corporate Wall Street finance company in a locked elevator leads to secrets being unburied and the question of the disappearance of Sara Hall, a young worker with potential. It is a fight for life and death. 

For humor enthusiasts: 

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Hossain

An egotistical djinn king wakes from his thousand-year long slumber and descends a mountain, expecting a city he can easily conquer. Instead, he encounters a utopian Kathmandu where its citizens have no complaints and are content with their lives. 

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

A spy thriller writer, Sam DuChamp, wakes up one day and begins writing about Quichotte, a man who travels across America to court a TV star and win her over. Inspired by Don Quixote, this book also satirizes the current culture that it’s a product of. 

Fly Already: Stories by Etgar Keret 

A series of amusing short stories which range from a story about a guy who gets stoned to impress a girl to a tale woven by a boy about a dystopian world where a youth army is at war. 

For romance lovers:

Frankly in Love by David Yoon 

In Southern California, two Korean-Americans pretend to date each other when they each fall in love with non-Koreans, but it leaves them questioning whether they know what love really is. 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive, unlike her twin sister Anna, has always been unlucky until a food poisoning incident at her sister’s wedding causes everyone to be sick except for her and her nemesis Ethan. They head out for what was supposed to be her sister’s honeymoon in Hawaii, and attempt to suppress their mutual dislike for one another. 

The Girl That He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves

Socially awkward Annika and Jonathan encounter each other 10 years after their college breakup, but the rekindling of their friendship is held back by the ghosts of their past. 

For history buffs: 

The Secrets We Keep by Lara Prescott

Two secretaries at the CIA are told to smuggle Doctor Zhivago, a controversial book banned from being published in the USSR, from Russia to Europe, and in Russia, its author Boris Pasternak and Olga Ivinskaya (his inspiration for the book’s heroine) engage in a long-lasting love affair. 

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

A narrative about racism, slavery and brutality is constructed through the eyes of Ursa, a blues singer, who harbors a hatred for a slave master who fathered both her grandmother and mother. 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

A 95-year-old woman reminisces about her time in New York during the 1940s where she encounters a variety of eccentric characters, and learns to relinquish the shame she has felt for years. 

For fantasy fans:

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahesi Coates

Hiram Walker gains a new mysterious power, but loses all memory of his mother who was sold to another slave owner. After a close call with death, Hiram escapes from the plantation hoping he can eventually rescue the others who remain trapped.  

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

A golem is brought to life during the Nazi Regime and is sworn to protect Lea, Hanni Kohn’s 12-year-old daughter. When Lea loses her mother, she and her golem, Ava, flee and travel throughout France from Paris to a convent in Western France where she meets her soulmate.

Pan’s Labryinth by Cornelia Funke and Guillermo Del Toro

Based on the movie, this book retells the haunting story of Ofelia’s descent into a fantasy world she can never return from. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

A hunter by nature, Tracker prefers to be alone but breaks this rule when he encounters a group (including a shape-shifting man) also looking for a boy who disappeared three years ago.

For sci-fi devotees:

Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir

In a world where lesbian necromancers exist in a far-flung future, Gideon is a reanimated corpse who is tired of her subjugation and attempts to escape, but her archenemy, a bone witch, will only free Gideon if she helps her ascend to power by the Emperor’s side.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

This is the sequel to the iconic Handmaid’s Tale set over 15 years after. Enough said. 

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

A human-eating monster, made of various human body parts stitched together, is inadvertently brought to life by Hadi, a scavenger in Baghdad who wants the government to give those who have been killed a proper burial. 

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police is devoted to confiscating objects and ensuring that they remain lost on an isolated island. Those who are able to remember live in fear of the police, including a female novelist who discovers her editor’s life is jeopardized and decides to hide him under floorboards.  

Happy reading!

Sidra Imam

Columbia Barnard '21

Sidra is a junior at Barnard College studying Sociology and Human Rights who is proud to call herself an intersectional feminist. On a free day, you'll see her talk about social justice, pop culture and existential crises. Also, her taste in books, art, and food is most definitely highbrow.
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