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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Cover Love: Emma

Emma was first published in 1815, so there have been almost endless cover versions. To give some limit to the ones I shared today, I stuck with English-language ones published since 2000, with one exception for a 1998 Dover version that I thought was especially pretty.

Pictures are shared in date order, beginning in 1998 and ending with two 2015 200th anniversary edition covers.

emma-cover-collage

See all posts in the “Cover Love” series.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Librivox | Goodreads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

On {Finally} Reading Pride and Prejudice

Pride and PrejudiceIf you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you might remember a little reading challenge I set up last year. And then promptly ignored because pregnancy + new baby = what was I thinking planning a reading challenge?

Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was one of the books selected for the challenge, because I’d never read it. Yes, it’s true. As complete a bookworm as I am, and I’d never read it.

I was somewhat scared to, to be honest. It’s so beloved, by so many. How could it possibly live up to the adoration? And I felt like I knew the story already. Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy. Obstacles ensue. They get married. The end.

Yes, I knew there was more to the story than that. But did it matter?

Of course it did. I didn’t know about Mr. Collins and Charlotte, or Lydia and Kitty. I didn’t even know about Bingley and Jane (let alone Bingley’s sisters). I certainly didn’t know about the ridiculous Mrs. Bennett, and the dastardly Wickham. What a loss that was, and would have been if I hadn’t ever read the book!

Why did I finally read it? Well, because I did set it as my challenge, and I wanted to read it, even if I didn’t get to it last year. Also so I could finally say “yes! I’ve read it!” And so I could watch the Lizzie Bennett Diaries online – they sound so fun, and I wanted to see how they adapt the material into that format.

So what did I think? Does it signify – is my opinion going to sway anyone to read it or not read it? I can’t imagine.

(I loved it.)

Adding to the “I finally did it!” aspect of the book was that I listened to it. All of it. And it was such a great audio book, and I’m so glad I own it so I can listen to it again and again.

A hint if you want it on audio: Buy a $.99 Kindle copy. You’re paying for formatting and spell check, so spend the $1. Then you can buy an audible version for a drastically reduced price (currently one is $1.49, while another is $2.49. I think I paid $1.99 for mine). Now you’ve got a Kindle version and Audible version for under $3, and you can switch back and forth between them as you read and listen, and it’s super convenient.

Another hint: this works for lots of classic novels – I’ve picked up several of them this way. Be sure to listen to the narrator when you pick the audible version you buy – they vary, and you may prefer one narrator’s style to another’s.

One final tip: If you have Amazon Prime, the Colin Firth version is available to stream for free. I started watching it immediately after finishing the book, and I’ve spent several late nights making up for all the lost years when I didn’t know what I was missing.

Find the book: A beautiful hardback copy | The fabulous annotated version | Kindle | Audible| Goodreads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Favorite Historical Fiction Books

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen by Jane Austen

I do feel a bit silly “reviewing” a book that’s been published for almost 200 years. Anyone who is interested in it surely knows about it, yes?

However, if for no reason other than to keep the blog up-to-date with posts on what I’ve been reading, I’ll talk about it. As you likely know, it’s Austen’s first book, despite it being the last one published. Honestly, it reads as a debut novel, lacking the polish and finesse of her more lauded books like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. The ending is especially lacking, with such an abrupt finish I found myself wondering if she’d just gotten tired with her own story and simply wanted to be done with it.

It’s still an enjoyable read, but it’s not a must-read by any means. My recommendation would be to get the Kindle version (a free or 99 cent one), and then get an Audible version for a couple of dollars more. Be sure and listen to the samples from Audible – there are a lot of options for the narrator and you may have a strong preference. I liked listening to the book more than I did actually reading it, and it made doing household chores much more pleasant.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.

Book Details

Title: Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Author: Jane Austen
Category: Fiction / Classics
My Rating: 3 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Ghost Ship by Brian Hicks
Two years ago: How to Find More Time to Read: Part 1

Book Club Choices for 2015

2015 Book Club Selections

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

Why did we pick it? Anne recommends it, and it fits the requirements for a January book (short and easy-to-read! There’s not much reading time post holiday craziness before our early-in-the-month meeting).

A Prayer for Owen MeanyFebruary
A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel by John Irving by John Irving

Why did we pick it? It’s a modern classic. And February is a good month to fit in a long book like this one.

The Road from CoorainMarch (tea party)
The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway by Jill Ker Conway
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion)

Why did we pick it? Because I pushed for it a tiny bit, both because I think it’s a great book, and because I think one memoir or biography a year is good for our reading mix.

Friday the Rabbi Slept LateApril
Friday the Rabbi Slept LateFriday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman by Harry Kemelman

Why did we pick it? To round out the type of fiction selected for the year, and because a previous Kemelman pick was a popular one. That was before my time with the group, so I’m excited to try one by him.

HeidiMay
HeidiHeidi by Johanna Spyri by Johanna Spyri

Why did we pick it? May is bring your little reader month, and this seemed like a good fit for the kids and grownups.

SeabiscuitJune (picnic)
Seabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand by Laura Hillenbrand
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion)

Why did we pick it? Because I pushed for it a bit – I’ve been holding off on reading this one on the assumption that it would be a good book club choice. I loved Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken, but think this will be a better fit for our group. Plus June is a good time to read a longer book.

PossessionJuly
PossessionPossession by A.S. Byatt by A. S. Byatt

Why did we pick it? It’s on a lot of lists for great books, including The Well-Educated MindThe Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer, and it helps provide variety to our selection for the year.

Princess BrideAugust (book & a movie)
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman by William Goldman

Why did we pick it? It’s been on our list of books to consider for ages, and it finally is getting its chance. Plus the movie is fun too.

Northanger AbbeySeptember (dinner party)
Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen by Jane Austen

Why did we pick it? We’ve read every other book by Austen, so why not complete them all?

When You Reach MeRules of CivilityThe Great Bridge

October (book flight at retreat)
When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead
Rules of Civility: A NovelRules of Civility: A Novel by Amor Towles by Amor Towles
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn BridgeThe Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough by David McCullough

Why did we pick them? We are going for a theme of “New York” for the book flight, and wanted a young adult, fiction, and nonfiction pick. I loved When You Reach Me and encouraged it to be picked. The Great Bridge is another one I read and loved, and also felt like it was a good choice especially since last year’s Eiffel’s Tower was pretty popular. Rules of Civility fit the theme, and gave further variety to the time periods being featured in the flight.

A Good Man is Hard to FindNovember
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other StoriesA Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O’Connor

Why did we pick it? Variety – we haven’t read any short stories for awhile, and we’ve never read anything by O’Connor.

84 Charing Cross RoadDecember (Christmas party)
84, Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff by Helene Hanff
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion.)

Why did we pick it? I pushed for it a bit because I love it. We always try for something light and easy in December, both because reading time is limited for most of us, and because the December meeting and party don’t lend themself to much discussion time. I think this will be a perfect way to end the year, with a fun epistolary title.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!