Six of the Best Books for a Cozy Fall

“I like fall”. This is as much an understatement as “The coronavirus sucks” or “That new bead tree is hideous”, but it still rings true. Fall in New Orleans, especially, is a welcome reprieve from the horror that is midterms, with the ghost-clad shotgun houses and endless pumpkin patch Instagram posts giving you a much-needed break from your 6 page English Literature midterm.

When it’s not being used to torture you, literature is a quintessential part of the fall experience. There are few better things than settling into a cozy, atmospheric novel on a fall day and pretending you’re in a decrepit old house or an ivy-covered university instead of a city with 95% humidity. Thus, I present to you the absolute essentials for exactly that. 

(Note: some of these books contain dark themes that may be triggering for some people, so I would highly recommend doing some research beforehand!) 

  1. 1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    If you’re looking for the aforementioned ivy-covered university element, look no further than The Secret History, a dark novel following a small group of classics students at an elite New England university throughout fall and winter. It’s hard to describe just how deeply pretentious this book is, but if you’re into amateuer philosophy, ritual murder, and classics, The Secret History is THE fall book for you.

  2. 2. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig

    The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a strange little book that has flown mostly under the radar for most of its half a century of existence. This is such a shame, as it’s a delightful tale about a young girl named Rynn who lives alone in the old house at the end of the lane. As her neighbors grow increasingly suspicious of her absent father, we learn more about exactly what Rynn is up to in that old house. This book is absolutely dripping with lovely autumnal descriptions, and as an added bonus, it’s set around Halloween.

  3. 3. If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

    In a similar vein to The Secret History, this book follows a small group of Shakespeare students at an isolated arts school. The story is told ten years after the fact by one of the students who has just been released from prison for murder and must set the record straight. Although it doesn’t strictly revolve around the fall-time, the dynamic characters and dark themes are sure to have you huddled in a blanket with If We Were Villains until you finish it.

  4. 4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

    Often considered one of Christie’s very best, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a neat, twisting mystery perfect for a read in front of a fire. It follows beloved detective Hercule Poirot as he takes on the case of Roger Ackroyd, who was stabbed to death for knowing too much about the murderous tendencies of his own ex-wife. However, things are not what they seem. What did Roger know? And who would do anything to make sure no one else did? Christie is a master at putting together an engrossing mystery and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is no exception.

  5. 5. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    Finally, we arrive to a book that isn’t about murder. The Sense of an Ending is a strange, quiet book that says so much in very few words and actions. It captures the life of aging Tony Webster as he contends with his past and the decisions that have formed the rest of his life. It’s intensely thought-provoking and begs to be read wearing a turtleneck and sipping a hot chai. 

  6. 6. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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    Did you really think I was done with all the terror? Any list of fall reads would be remiss not to include Shirley Jackson’s psychological masterpiece. As four individuals meet to investigate the old and powerful Hill House, they are swept up in the psychological influences of one another and of the house itself. The descriptions in this book are absolutely incredible and the way the house is characterized is eerie and amazing and perfect for the spooky season.

Although many of us don’t have the time for some heavy reading during this crazy semester, I can’t recommend these six titles enough. Happy reading!