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10 Books to Get You in the ~Fall Mood~

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

I am an autumn girl through-and-through. Born and raised in New Jersey, I have lived through 18 seasons of fall foliage, cool autumn breezes, and crunchy leaves. I am in love with all things fall. I love the pumpkin spice, the brisk air, the changing color of leaves – I even buy those cheesy autumn/halloween decorations to proudly display all over my home. Despite my passion for this season, I chose to come to school in Austin, Texas. In Austin, “fall” looks more like 85 degree days and unrelenting humidity. Needless to say, I start feeling a little homesick around this time of year and I yearn for the cold and coziness that fall used to bring me. 

If you feel the same way, or are just looking to get all those cozy fall feels, then you have clicked on the right article! I’m going to recommend 10 books (the majority of which I have read – and loved) that will transport you to the chilly, snuggly – and sometimes spooky – fall environment. In this list, I have included a genre for everybody! There are your classics books, more weighty novels, fantasy books, and thriller books.

1. The Secret History by Donna Tart

This book broke into my Top 5 book list of all time. It takes place at a small, elite liberal arts college in rural Vermont. The book is centered around a friend group of eccentric classics students. Not only did this book give me all the autumn aesthetic, but it had me gripped by its rich language and enthralling plot. This is a must-read.

Back cover: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil. 

2. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

This book tells the story of Danny and Maeve, brother and sister, over the course of five decades. This book had the aesthetic of a dark fairy tale. It largely centers around their childhood home: a lavish and old estate. This is a bitter-sweet, yet deeply moving story.

Back cover: At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

3. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is personally one of my favorite authors. This is a beautiful story that will have you falling in love with the main character, Leni, a teenage girl who moves to Alaska with her parents. This book is filled with vivid imagery of an Alaskan winter: cold, dark, and bitter. You may need to keep a box of tissues next to you for this one.

Back cover: Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed. For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This book is truly a classic. It is filled with cozy scenes by the fireplace and sweet family moments. The writing will envelop you in the beautiful autumn scenery of Massachusetts.

Back cover: Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s only one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book is a beautiful, richly written fantasy about a black and white dream circus. The writing brings you into a truly magical and moody setting. This book was also a #1 National Bestseller and it will have you mesmerized.

Back cover: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the strange for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love –  a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

6. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

This book is set in the middle of nowhere on a stormy island off the coast of Ireland. Guests gather on the island to celebrate a wedding but a muder occurs. Dun dun dun! This book has the perfect eeriness and chill that will make you want to stay inside.

Back cover: The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

7. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

This book really had me wrapping myself up in a blanket and sitting by the fireplace. This book takes place in a dark, freezing, and creepy wood. The setting is enough to make you shiver but the plot will have the hairs on your arms standing up straight. 

Back cover: What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller. Lenora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her nest of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the 

English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

8. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

This is the second book by Ruth Ware in this list for a reason – she loves to base her stories in a spooky and dark setting. The writing has a lot of gothic elements like a creepy old mansion and an odd main character.

Back cover: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

9. September by Rosamund Pilcher

While I haven’t read this book yet, I desperately want to. It takes place in a small town in Scotland with a memorable cast of characters from both Europe and America. It is an endearing book filled with family and even a bit of romance.

Back cover: As spring comes to Scotland and the hills burst into life, a dance is planned for September. The invitations summon home the group of people Violet Aird has cared for most in her long life. The oldest, strongest and wisest of them all, she sees Alexa, her vulnerable granddaughter, find love for the first time, while the decision to send her little grandson away to school is driving parents Edmund and Virginia even further apart. Far from them all is Pandora, the glamorous, exciting girl who ran away twenty years before. All will converge on Scotland this September.

10. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

I had to end on a true classic. The Harry Potter Series is just perfect during this time of year. You get the dark academia vibes while you spend time in Hogwarts, feel the air grow colder and see snow cover Hogwarts and the Forbidden Forest. 

Back cover: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

I hope that you can find the same autumn comfort in some of these books as I did! On any given day during these coming months you can find me cozying up with a pumpkin spice latte and one of these books. And if you’re not a reader, not to worry… my next post will be about shows and movies that also get me in all my “fall feels”!

Lily Gold

Texas '25

I'm from New Jersey studying International Relations and Pre-Law at UT Austin. I love to read, write, watch scary movies, and cook delicious food! You can also find me playing with dogs, spinning, or doing yoga :)