10+ Books Perfect to Read in Autumn

10 Books Perfect to Read in Autumn / 10 Books Perfect to Read in the FallSummer Books seem to get all the attention, but autumn is the perfect time to dive into some wonderful reads. Whether you’re in the mood for longer, more thought-provoking books, coming-of-age stories with the growing-up nostalgia brought on by back-to-school season, novels with a strong sense of place, or works that requiring more focus than beach-reading allows.

Here are 10 books that are perfect to read in autumn, plus extra options for those who are already well-read in fall literature.

Cover of A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Why so perfect for fall? The emphasis on education makes this feel especially appropriate to read during back-to-school season.

This turn of the century coming-of-age story is an American classic for good reason. The beautifully crafted tale pulls you into Francie’s story and has you rooting for her as she grows up in challenging circumstances. There is an undercurrent of hope that buoys everything.

Already read it? Try A Distant Prospect or Emily of New Moon for other thoughtful coming-of-age novels.


Cover of Still LifeStill Life by Louise Penny

Why so perfect for fall? Penny is amazing at developing the setting for the novels through wonderful details of location, food, and weather.

The Chief Inspector Gamache series mostly takes place in a rural village south of Montreal, and the setting is key in most of the books in the series. This is the first book in a lengthy series that continues to improve, and the backstory behind the characters is a reason to savor every book.

Already read it? Try Bruno, Chief of Police or Death of a Red Heroine for other mystery series with a strong sense of place.


Cover of Wolf HallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Why so perfect for fall? It’s a big reading commitment, that needs focused time to appreciate the depth offered by the novel.

This Booker Prize-winning historical fiction brings Thomas Cromwell to life. It’s an utterly fascinating account with an unusual writing style. Stay with it long enough to adjust, as your efforts will be richly rewarded.

Already read it? Try Kristin Lavransdattar or 11/22/63 for other historical sagas.


Cover of RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Why so perfect for fall? It’s an ideal choice when you’re looking for something to read while curled up under a blanket, sipping a hot drink.

From the famous opening line to the dramatic conclusion, Rebecca is also perfect for a discussion title, if you’re looking for one for your book club to read this fall. The atmospheric novel is a modern classic, blending Gothic romance and mystery.

Already read it?Try My Cousin Rachel or Dragonwyck for additional novels with a Gothic feel and slight romance storyline.


Cover of Harry PotterHarry Potter by J. K. Rowling

Why so perfect for fall? Because every book begins as Harry heads off to school in September, looking forward to the fresh start a new school year provides. No, back-to-school novels don’t have to take place at a boarding school, but it never hurts when they do. Add in the magical element for extra fun.

Already read it? Try The Magicians or Charmed Life for other stories about magical education.


Cover of Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery

Why so perfect for fall? Because it includes the famous line “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” And because autumn at Green Gables sounds gorgeous – the birch trees have turned golden, the maple branches give Anne a thrill, and the wild cherry trees lining the road are lovely shades. Fall foliage never sounded so beautiful as Montgomery describes it.

Already read it? Try The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate or Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms for more heart-warming reads about precocious young girls.


Cover of Crossing to SafetyCrossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Why so perfect for fall? The academic setting, the quiet feel of it all, and the stunning writing which is simply ideal for savoring. Stegner excels at weaving a gentle narrative following friends over the course of their lives, bringing the reader into their story. Any description of it fails to do it justice.

Already read it? Try Jayber Crow or Hannah Coulter for other quiet stories with a literary feel.


Cover of And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Why so perfect for fall? One of her most famous mysteries, the eerie setting, and countdown of survivors makes for a satisfying mystery with a slightly Halloween-inspired feel. Add in the narrative following the children’s verse, and the disappearing soldiers mimicking the fallen guests and there is a decided sense of menace to the text.

Already read it? Try The Turn of the Screw or We Have Always Lived in the Castle for other classic novels that tilt towards the creepy side.


Cover of Team of RivalsTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Why so perfect for fall? It’s a hefty reading investment, one where you need plenty of time to appreciate Goodwin’s clever structuring of her award-winning work.

Already read it? Try Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War or A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918 for additional history books, both appropriate to read this time of year.


Cover of Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Why so perfect for fall? It’s a terrific read around Halloween if you’re not quite brave enough for a true horror book.

Slightly eerie, Austen’s Gothic-inspired novel gives nods to what was then the supremely popular The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Already read it? Try Wuthering Heights or Mistress of Mellyn for additional novels with a Gothic feel.


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Favorite Books of 2014

Favorite Books of 2014I had a really difficult time picking my favorite books this year, so I eventually settled on picking the books I most highly recommend to others, or the ones wish I could still experience for the first time. And because picking was so difficult, I added some runner-ups.

(Links go to my reviews if I’ve written one, Amazon if I haven’t yet)

Velma Still Cooks in LeewayVelma Still Cooks in Leeway by Vinita Hampton Wright

If I had to pick one single favorite book of the year, it would probably be this one. I think I need to reread this one next year, just so I can more fully appreciate the way she wove this story together.

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I was convinced this book would be boring. I was wrong.

Crossing to SafetyCrossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Surprised myself by liking this one as much as I did, and describing it does not do it justice. Wonderful characters who stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing GoodBurnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family by Kathleen Flinn

I’ve loved Flinn’s other books, and loved how this one brought to life her family’s stories, and led into the events in her first book. Did I like it more because I now live in the Midwest? Possibly, but I don’t think that was the only appeal.

Mastering the Art of French EatingMastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah

Armchair traveling at its best. Mah allowed me to come along with her as she spent a year in Paris and traveled throughout France experiencing it’s most iconic food. Prepare to be hungry as you read it.

Buried in the SkyBuried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2′s Deadliest Day by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

The focus on the Sherpas is what makes this book so wonderfully fascinating. If you’ve liked other Everest accounts, don’t miss this one, with its unique perspective on the events of that deadly climbing season.

The Queen of AttoliaThe Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, from The Queen’s Thief series

I’ve been holding off on reading book #4, because then I won’t have another one to look forward to for the forseeable future. And that’s a very sad thing.

CressCress by Marissa Meyer, from the Lunar Chronicles series

Can’t wait to read the final two in this series!

Etiquette and EspionageEtiquette &Espionage, Curtsies & ConspiraciesCurtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Book 2) by Gail Carriger, and Waistcoats & WeaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger, from the Finishing School series

Super fun series, although book #3 took a more serious turn that I wasn’t completely expecting. The final book come out next year.

The Runner-Ups

Parnassus on WheelsParnassus On WheelsParnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley by Christopher Morley

Another one where the descriptions don’t convey how enjoyable the book is. Sweet and gentle and very easy to read. I only just read it last week, which is why I hesitate to say that it would have the staying power to be a favorite for the year. I may regret not including it.

The Mislaid MagicianThe Mislaid Magician by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer, from the Cecelia and Kate series

Epistolary + fantasy + historical fiction = my kind of fun.

Women Heroes of World War IWomen Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics and Women Heroes of WWII: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue both by Kathryn Atwood

If you like one you’ll like the other, and if you’re at all interested in brief biographical accounts of fascinating individuals, you should give these a try.

Eiffel's TowerEiffel’s Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris’s Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World’s Fair That Introduced It by Jill Jonnes

I’m already second-guessing myself for not including it above, but I think it just misses out on being a “must recommend to everyone I know” type book. It really was a great book though.

The Professor and the MadmanThe Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Like the Eiffel’s Tower book, this is another fascinating look at a small slice of history. I loved it.

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Another one I may need to reread, to see what clues the author drops throughout the text as to what will be happening later.

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | review by @SheilaRCraigA Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith | review by @SheilaRCraig by Betty Smith

Book club’s pick for August, and I am so glad it was – I’d have never been motivated to read it otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have stuck with it long enough to fall in love with the story.

Because fall in love with it I did. I hate to gush over it too much, because often I think if my expectations are too high it’s all but impossible for a book to live up to them. If I’d started this thinking “POTENTIAL FAVORITE BOOK AHEAD!” would I have been as able to fall in love with the story and characters? And if I gush, am I setting someone else up to be disappointed?

Some aspects of it remind me a bit of Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, as a coming-of-age story about a girl who finds the beauty in the ugliness that often surrounds her. However, this one is not as fitting for younger readers as Anne can be, so I wouldn’t hand it over to younger readers without being aware of the content and their capacity to emotionally handle it.

Smith is able to bring to life Brooklyn in the early 1900s, and the poverty and grim realities of life there in a way that still kept alive hope in a better future. There are some awful events related, but it never feels grim or depressing. You feel the sorrows of the Nolan family (and there are plenty of sorrows), but also the joy they experience.

My only real complaint with it is that when it ends, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Francie.

Publisher’s Description:
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Book Details

Title: A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith | review by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Betty Smith
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

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