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Since the weather has finally begun to dwindle below 80 degrees here in Memphis, I think it’s safe to say that Fall has officially arrived. My sweater collection has moved to the top shelf of my wardrobe, the smell of pumpkin spice follows me around, and the holiday season is right on the horizon. While I do adore the crisp air and the crunchy leaves that Fall brings, what I look most forward to most during this season is change. 

The days grow shorter and the nights grow longer; the bright green summer foliage changes to remarkable hues of orange and red; we swap beach days for pumpkin patches; and during all this change, there’s nothing more comforting than lighting your autumnal scented candles, snuggling up under a warm blanket with some hot coffee, and reading a good book.  

I’ve compiled a list of 10 books that I guarantee will put you in the seasonal spirit. Check them out below

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

The book that became the movie that created all the buzz. This psychological thriller is the perfect way to kick off your Fall reads. This book is a perfect mixture of drama and suspense, making it a great precursor to Halloween. This story follows Nick Dunne during the investigation of the disappearance of his beautiful wife Amy. Nick, the town’s golden boy, becomes the prime suspect, leaving everyone in shock. This novel makes asks its readers this question: how well they really know the ones they love?

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 

This book incapsulates the idea of change. Hurston’s novel follows Janie, a black woman in the 1930s American South, as she lives through three marriages and struggles with poverty. Seemingly a romance novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God manages to touch on a variety of topics related to racial discrimination and female independence, making it one of the most relevant and impactful novels of American Literature today. 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 

Written by the queen of mystery Agatha Christie, this story will bring you a little closer to the horror you’re looking for around Halloween. This novel involves ten strange characters who are dragged into a nightmare of a situation when they are invited on a luxurious beach vacation. Shortly after their arrival, they find out they are all trapped on the island with a murderer who plans to take them all out, one by one. Will they be able to catch the killer before it’s too late?

The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

This is a tale that’s been told hundreds of times, but trust me when I tell you this is a fabulously creative retelling of Cinderella. In this story, Cinderella, known as Clara, falls victim to her own selfish narcissism, making her seem like a entitled brat; while her stepsister Iris becomes the heroine of the novel. We follow Iris as she is thrown into a world of wealth and beauty where she discovers a vast amount of secrets lurking underneath it’s pretty surface. 

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling 

I recently reread this series, and it only took the first thirty pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to transport me back to a time when I was ten years old and dreaming of receiving my letter to Hogwarts’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Rowling’s series is full of thrilling adventure and magical times. It’s filled with the joy of going back to school, and the merriness of the holiday season is always used as a backdrop. I suggest at least reading the first book in the series for a more lighthearted read for the season. 

Final Girls by Riley Sager 

Sager’s novel is an exciting take on what happens after the horror movie. Quincy Carpenter was the only survivor of a horror-movie like massacre, making her a Final Girl; however, due to severe trauma, Quincy has no recollection of the real events of that night. After the incident, she becomes part of a group known to the media as the Final Girls, a group comprised of women who all survived group massacres on a similar scale. Ten years later, when one of the Final Girls winds up dead and another appears of Quincy’s doorstep, the truth of what happened to her all those years before finally begins to unravel. 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold 

This book definitely leans towards a more somber autumnal vibe. The story opens with the rape and death of 14-year-old Susie Salmon and follows with Susie watching her friends and family come to terms with her death in her own personal heaven. Despite this being a tragedy, Susie tells her story with hope and humor, leaving readers with a hard, inspiring tale of love lost. The most frustrating part of this book is waiting for Susie to get justice, making readers wonder if the young girl’s killer will ever be found.

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

I am in love with Again, but Better. I grew up watching Christine Riccio’s YouTube career flourish, so, when she finally wrote her own book, it felt like watching a close friend succeed. This book follows Shane, a reserved college student who has felt as if her last few years have been wasted. In her words, she “did college wrong.” I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to read something with a little magic. I have no doubt that you’ll fall in love with Shane, her friends, and London just like I did.  

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 

This book is eerily representative of themes that have become extremely prevalent in dealing with today’s government. In Atwood’s dystopian future, a totalitarian regime have enforced insane social rules and has permanently enslaved all fertile women. The world is seen through the eyes of Offred, a handmaiden forced to produce children for a government commander. Offred is able to survive by clinging to the memories of her past and the newfound knowledge that there may be a way out. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved is a hard-hitting classic by one of America’s best novelists Toni Morrison. This gothic novel gives viewers a look into the heavy, violent past of Sethe, an escaped slave. Although Sethe found freedom, she remains haunted by the ghosts of her past, which eventually take real form in a girl called Beloved. This story is utterly compelling, leaving its readers with a powerful depiction of our nation’s disturbing past. 

So, as the weather continues to change and the leaves begin to fall, swap out your summer reads for this list of chilling fall reads! 

Isabel Rodriguez is a junior at Rhodes College studying English Literature and Studio Art. She has a weakness for Harry Styles, coffee, and shoes. When she's not writing, you can find her watching Law and Order: SVU or reading a book. Find her on Instagram at Isabel_Rodriguez_.
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