Fall is all about feelings. Feeling cozy, feeling scared, feeling cold, feeling full of yummy fall food. This list is full of books that make you feel what you associate with crisp, cool, deliciously flavored fall.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
Beautiful Creatures is one of the first books that comes to my mind when I think about fall. This book is set in a small town in the south called Gatlin, where main characters Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate meet and start a mysterious romance that hits many roadblocks, including magical family members and a struggle to control mysterious powers that are out of Lena’s control. Beautiful Creatures is full of stormy nights, falling leaves, and graveyards — a setting that gives me strong fall vibes. I would suggest finding a bench or a shady tree in your local cemetery and knocking out this book in your coziest sweater to truly get the full effect.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight is by default a book for fall — that is, if you consider sparkly vampires and cuddly werewolves spooky. But I think the Pacific Northwest, with its infinite gloominess and pine trees, just does the trick to get me in the mood for fall weather. I picked the first book specifically because Bella is making her trip to Forks from Arizona for the first time, and there are a lot of descriptive scenes of the coolness, rainy weather, and general gloom of her new environment. This book would be best read in the arms of your sparkly vampire lover, but if you can’t find one of those on such short notice, you could settle for a park or green area with lots of pine trees and a nice thick coat.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Most people can agree that the movie Coraline seems to be just slightly too disturbing to be considered a children’s movie. If that is the case, then I would not suggest for any child to read the book that this movie is based on. Coraline is a book that will make you more than a little creeped out at the least, and thoroughly disturbed at most. How this book was intended for children is beyond me, but the illustrations and description that are included in this book push it over the edge from quirky but weird to outright creepy very quickly. However, that just makes the book all the better to read in the fall, not only because of the spookiness, but also because the setting of this book is also very gloomy and chilly. I would suggest reading this book at home, with a warm beverage of your choice, away from any buttons and needles or secret passageways.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
I genuinely tried picking just one book from the Harry Potter series for this list, but I can honestly say that any book from this series would be a good choice for the fall season. Thinking about sitting in a common room drinking a butter beer with a floating candle or two to provide enough light to read your potions book really just makes me wish I had received that letter from Hogwarts when I was 11 like I was supposed to. However, I’m still waiting for that letter to be delivered, so I have to make do with a recipe for homemade butter beer and some tea lights.
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Horrorstor is a book that isn’t very well-known that deserves to be. This is hands-down one of the most terrifying books I have ever read and it takes place in a knock-off IKEA. This book is about a group of employees that stay past close in their off-brand IKEA called Orsk in order to figure out what is causing the damages to products in the store. Once the sun goes down, however, strange things begin happening around them that, at first, seem like coincidences that can be explained away, but soon turn into horrifying interactions that are anything but human. I believe the best place to read this book would be in the nearest IKEA after hours, although I think that you may get arrested if you attempt this, so maybe just stay home for this one.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The first time I read If I Stay, it was in the fall after I had bought the book at a garage sale for two dollars. I think I binge-read this book in a few days, a week at most, and then immediately started reading it again. This book is one of my top ten favorite books of all time, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include it on this list. It takes place in the Pacific Northwest yet again, in Oregon. Many people think that this book is cheesy or unrealistic, but I think this is a book that you shouldn’t really try to take that seriously. Most of this book actually takes place in winter, but I think that it’s a great fit for the turn of the season. The main character, Mia, and her family, boyfriend, and best friend are the kind of people I both aspire to have in my life and that I want to become myself. There is also a lot of music that is referenced in this book that you can listen to while reading, and a movie you can watch when you finish.
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
Generation Dead is a book about a future where high-school age teens have started coming back from the dead as zombies. The “differently biotic” or “living impaired” teenagers go back to school and continue going to high school with the rest of the students. Phoebe Kendall, an average goth high school girl, falls for Tommy Williams, no one can believe it. Not because he isn’t her type, but because he’s a zombie. This book, admittedly, is incredibly cheesy. However, sometimes I love reading books like this in the fall to get me ready to watch some silly scary movies and dress up for Halloween. This book does partially take place in the fall, because it takes place during the school year and football season. I love reading this book when I want a supernatural romance that isn’t about vampires. Read this book on some football bleachers if it isn’t too cold, or maybe just in a library that makes you feel like you’re in high school.
The Merciless by Danielle Vega
The Merciless is a book to read if you feel like being scared beyond belief. The story follows a group of high school girls that decide to perform an exorcism on another girl they go to school with that they believe is possessed. However, this exorcism quickly turns into torture. There are so many twists and turns in this story that you may have to put the book down and take a break a few times — I know that I did. I would only recommend this book for mature audiences, because it does tend to get a little bit graphic. However, if you like reading something with horror and suspense, I would recommend reading this one on the spookiest night, as long as you’re okay with not sleeping.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an iconic novel for any young adult to read at any time, but I highly recommend reading it in the fall. Again, this book takes place for the most part during the school year, so I think that is why I associate it so closely with fall. If you haven’t read this book and you feel off-put by the cliche hipster-ness that is usually associated with it, I would highly recommend just giving this book a shot. It is full of wonderful vignettes on what it is really like to be a teen trying to figure out where you belong in the world. Do you live in Pittsburgh? If so, I highly recommend trying to read this book at one of the places that is mentioned in the book or featured in the movie.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lastly, if you are truly trying to feel the coziest you possibly can with a book this fall, I would suggest Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This book is about a girl named Cath that goes to college with her much more extroverted twin, and is struggling to adjust to this new life. Her twin doesn’t want to room with her and spends a lot of time going to parties, while Cath prefers to stay in her room and write fanfiction for her huge fanbase of readers. She eventually meets a boy in a writing class that a romance begins to blossom with, and she has to overcome her social anxiety as well as family issues to break out of her shell and decide whether she wants to retreat into her fanfiction or move on and experience the new parts of her life. This book would best be read in a cozy little cafe with a nice warm beverage.