The earlier sunsets of fall make us want to spend more time reading in a cozy sweater with a pumpkin spice latte. While we agreed that we look forward to reading in our favorite season, we were having trouble articulating what types of books make the best autumn reads!
We polled our Read with the Book Girls Facebook group, and they helped us come up with a list of characteristics that make the best fall books. Of course, anything set in the fall was the easiest qualifier, but we also agreed that fall is a season of deeper reads after light beach read season. Thrillers for Halloween and back-to-school themes also made it to our fall reading list.
Our list of fall books includes a mix of brand new books, along with some of our favorite books from the past few years.
Grab a throw blanket and coffee or wine and curl up in a chair with one of these perfect for fall novels.
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Best Fall Books
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What screams fall vibes more than apples on the cover of a family drama/murder mystery?
The Delaney siblings grew up at their family's famous tennis academy, but as adults, they've moved on from the game and are just as successful off the court. Their parents, Stan and Joy, sold the academy to begin retirement, so life should be good...
When Joy goes missing, two of their children suspect their father is involved while the other two believe he is innocent. As family secrets are unraveled, which side will you believe?
This new novel is from the bestselling author of Big Little Lies.
This book was a big hit among those who read it for the Decades Challenge. It takes place in New York City, split between two different times in history and two different stories.
You'll read about a survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire who works as a nurse on Ellis Island, and a survivor of 9/11 who lost her husband in the attack. Both are women learning to survive after a tragedy, and their stories are interwoven in a beautiful way. In addition to enjoying the story, everyone loved learning a little more about what it was like to work on Ellis Island in the 1910s.
When journalist Hannah has to move from Chicago to a small town in Mississippi to care for her grandmother, she's also recovering from losses in her life. When she starts working for the tiny local paper, she uncovers a series of letters the newspaper office received from one woman in the 1930s, but never printed.
With the encouragement of a local teacher, Hannah begins investigating the letters and the town's long-buried secrets.
Randolph and Buddy Lee are both ex-cons, but have very different lives. Randolph left his past behind and started a successful lawn care business. He has a loving wife and owns a nice small home. Buddy Lee is a barely functioning alcoholic, living in a run-down trailer.
Besides both being ex-cons, the only thing they have in common is that their sons married each other and both dads handled that poorly.
When both sons are brutally murdered, the men meet because of their shared goal - finding out what really happened to their boys.
The Books Girls Say...If you're sensitive to violence or lots of rough language, consider skipping this vigilante crime novel. Melissa read and liked it despite normally avoiding violence because the story is so compelling, but it's not one that she would ever recommend without a disclaimer.
The Mitchell triplets, Mirabel, Monday, and Mab, live in a small town with a terrible past of water-quality issues, which have led to numerous health issues.
Because the town has spent years in the national news, everyone is shocked when a new family decides to move in. When the family's past connection to the town is revealed, it affects everyone, including all three sisters.
The Book Girls Say...If you enjoy audiobooks, this one is well done, with different narrators for each sister.
Fredrik Backman has a rare talent for creating lovable, realistically human characters who learn and grow with the help of their community. Britt-Marie is no exception.
She's a socially awkward perfectionist who comes across as constantly critical of others despite the best intentions.
But inside, she has big dreams and a warm heart. After leaving a cheating husband, Britt-Marie begins a new season of life as caretaker of a rec center and inherits a variety of odd regular visitors, including kids desperate for a football (soccer) coach.
Can she get past her fussy nature and turn the town into a place she finally feels like she belongs?
Set in September of 1938, West with Giraffes is a delightful tale of adventure that will take you from the east coast of the US to the west.
Based on the true story of two giraffes who survived a hurricane at sea, followed by a long trek on land, you won't want to put down this book. The human main characters are just as compelling - an older man sent by the San Diego zoo to accompany the giraffes and an unkempt, starving teenager.
The Book Girls Say...We both adored everything about this story, and it will be on our list of favorite books of 2021. From the insights it gives to life across America in the late 30s to the growing relationships between characters, including between the humans and giraffes, so many things make it a great book!
Every holiday needs a rom-com, and Halloween is no exception! Emmy Harlow is a witch with a complicated family history. Her powers come from her hometown of Thistle Grove, but the powers are waning as she's avoiding both her family and heartbreaker Gareth.
When she agrees to visit Thistle Grove for a spellcasting tournament and a visit with her best friend Linden. She unexpectedly runs into Talia, who has just broken up with Gareth...who was dating Linden at the same time.
The women decide he deserves some witchy revenge after breaking all their hearts. Along the way, you'll enjoy the competitions at the Gaulent and Emmy's unexpected attraction to Talia.
Looking for an eerie mystery that's perfect for book lovers wanting to read something a bit haunting around Halloween?
This highly-rated debut novel follows Lydia's investigation into the suicide of one of her bookshop regulars. Throughout her search into his past, she uncovers a buried memory from her own violent childhood
Twelve-year-old Edward boards a plane with his beloved older brother and his parents, bound for their new home and life in California, but when the plane tragically crashes, Edward emerges as the sole survivor. After recovering from his injuries, he goes to live with his mom's sister and her husband with the eyes of the world on him. Everyone is eager to hear his story.
His aunt and uncle work hard to shield him from all the attention and to allow him time to process his loss, but when Edward uncovers a stack of letters, he discovers an unexpected path to healing.
The chapters in the book alternate between Edward's current day, and a minute-by-minute recounting of the ill-fated flight, through which we are introduced to many of the other passengers.
Do you love playing Clue and solving mysteries? In this book, step into the life of Aiden Bishop and his stay at the Blackheath Manor.
Each morning, he wakes up starting the day over like Groundhog Day as he tries to identify the killer of Evelyn Hardcastle so he can stop the murder. However, he's not himself each day. Instead, he wakes up in the body of a different Blackheath Manor guest and uses their experiences and interactions to solve the mystery.
If you only pick one novel from this list, The Great Alone would be a winning selection. We both rated it 5 stars!
When a Vietnam POW returns home, he carries new anger and impulsively. Determined to stand by her husband, his wife agrees with his plan to move his family to Alaska to live off the grid. Soon after arriving, the harsh reality of rural Alaska sets in for 13-year-old Leni and her mom. For a while, things are better with her dad as they spend the fall season preparing for their first Alaskan winter, but she fears his more balanced-self is only temporary.
This is going to sound crazy, but by far, this was the most uplifting book Melissa has read this year. After loving the musical Come From Away, we were both heart-warmed by the story of Gander, Newfoundland, and the many planes full of people who landed there after flights were barred from entering US airspace on 9/11.
This book tells the true stories from those September days and exemplifies what life can be like when everyone puts themselves aside and generously gives their time, belongings, and love. In a year where it's so easy to see the bad and lose faith in humanity, this book will restore your soul.
In the autumn of 1960, Angie and Paul Glass receive a phone call that Paul's brother has committed suicide and his wife is missing. Angie thinks they are going to take care of their grief-stricken niece, but they discover that the enigmatic 17-year-old does not want to be nurtured.
Staying in her brother- and sister-in-law's ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods in Upstate New York, Angie begins to learn more about the complicated Glass family, and comes to question everything.
If you've ever done a little eye-rolling when dealing with other parents at your child's school, this is the book for you. Former rockstar groupie Jen is bamboozled into being the class mom for her daughter's kindergarten class. Her emails recruiting other parent volunteers are full of the things you wish you could say, but probably wouldn't.
It's a fun, irreverent back-to-school read that will make you laugh out loud as long as you don't take it too seriously.
Eliza is a suburban wife secreting struggling with a new, intense fear of leaving her house. She forces herself to go to the store in preparation for a visit from her college-age children. While she is there, she hears younger moms talking about a new local online forum for women. Eliza has run a similar group for years, but these strangers are calling her group boring.
In a moment of desperation and weakness, Eliza starts a rumor on her board to liven it up, and the rumor reaches further than she expected.
This book is a great mix of comedy and drama about a group of neighbors overcoming their individual problems when they’re willing to share them and lean on other women.
There is something special about books that walk the line between drama and comedy, and Katherine Center pulled it off with How to Walk Away.
Margaret is about to start her dream job and marry her dreamy boyfriend. Suddenly, her ideal future is disrupted in a terrifying moment. Now, everything has changed. As she fights to recover from an accident, she's forced to decide if she really wants to return to the life she thought was perfect or if there is a better path forward.
Looking for a horror book leading up to Halloween? While not a genre we normally read, this gothic meets horror set in 1950s Mexico is intriguing.
Socialite Noemi travels to High Place, her cousin's countryside estate, after receiving a mysterious letter begging for help. Despite her newlywed cousin's menacing new family and creepy home, Noemi isn't afraid. But should she be?
If you're looking for a sweet, cozy, not-scary book, this is a great choice. Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people. When she finds a dedication written to her in a book from her grandmother, she realizes it's a clue that her grandma may still be alive.
Follow along as she uncovers a family secret while interacting with charming and vivid characters. The story is mysterious at points, without ever being frightening.
This bittersweet, coming of age novel is full of quirky characters, starting with Polly. She had a child, Willow, in her late 50s after her other children were grown. The book begins when Willow is 10. Because of her mom's age, Willow is obsessed with concern about her mother dying.
Polly acts anything but old, she's actually a margarita-drinking fireball of feisty energy. She's also very opposed to talking about her past, and WIllow is endlessly curious about it. It's a great look at their mother/daughter relationship, but also wider family relationships.
Quiet, small-town Louisa Clark needs a new job, but gets more than that when she begins working for wealthy Will, who was paralyzed after an accident, interrupting his perfect life of travel, sports, and big business deals.
And it has made him VERY moody. Will and his mother aren't sure Louisa is up for the challenge, but she needs the money and is determined to keep the job and to convince Will that his life is still worth living. There's no denying that this one is a heart-breaker! And if you're ready for more once you dry your tears, there are two more books in the series.
This thriller was recommended by one of our Facebook members as an intelligent thriller that received rave reviews from all 8 members of her book club.
When single Catherine Bailey meets Lee, he seems like the perfect catch. His good looks and attentive nature lure her in, but soon she begins to experience his darker side as jealousy rages and he makes her more and more isolated from the rest of the world.
The book then flashes forward four years, with Lee behind bars, but about to be released. Catherine, who now goes by Cathy, struggles with the knowledge of his release and the other mental ramifications of her time with Lee.
While those are our autumn favorites, along with the books we at the top of our fall reading lists, there are a few other authors that consistently come up as winners for this season. If you need more books for your TBR pile, check out Anthony Doers, Colson Whitehead, Sally Rooney, and even romance by Nicholas Sparks.
Do you have any favorite fall books? Add your book recommendation to the comments below!
Just read Into the Darkest Corner, based on your recommendation. I am a thriller lover and this one was excellent. You know what what is coming, but the author's build-up is so well done that you remain on pins and needles waiting for it. Thank you for the title.
Thursday 7th of October 2021
We're so glad you enjoyed it!
Best Thanksgiving Books for Adults - Book Girls' Guide
Tuesday 5th of October 2021
[…] up, check out our Fall Book Recommendations or maybe our Christmas Books for […]
Sunday 3rd of October 2021
The book about the people and what they did in Gander, Newfoundland was the most uplifting and best feeling ever. Those people and that country should have received the Nobel Peace Award.
Wednesday 29th of September 2021
I feel a strong sense of fall every time I read the first couple of chapters of A Wrinkle in Time. It's cozy, mysterious, and there's a hint of ripe apples in the air.
Wednesday 29th of September 2021
Oh, great suggestion!
Tuesday 28th of September 2021
So very happy to see West With Giraffes on this list! I’ve been recommending it to everyone since I read it in January - it and American Dirt are my favorite books of the last 5 years. This is the first time I’ve seen it on any of the bazillions of “lists” I read. Kudos!