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As the sun sets earlier in autumn, we want to spend more time curled up reading. Even better if we’re in a cozy sweater with apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte.
While both Book Girls always look forward to reading in our favorite season, we initially struggled to articulate our favorite types of books to read in the fall. So, we polled our Read with the Book Girls Facebook group! 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.
We also agreed that fall is a season of deeper reads after the light beach read season. Thrillers and mysteries for Halloween, back-to-school themes, and books with cozy fall vibes also made it to our fall reading list.
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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The Best Books for Fall
Our book recommendations include both 2022 new release books with autumn vibes as well as some of our favorites from the past few years.
Wrong Place Wrong Time
by Gillian McAllister
In this newly released thriller, Jen is waiting up for her 17-year-old son to come home one night in late October. Through the window she witnesses the unthinkable. Her son kills a man right there in the street outside their home and is taken into custody.
She goes to sleep that night wishing it was all just a bad dream, and then she wakes up yesterday. The next day she wakes up the day before yesterday.
Day after day, she wakes up another day earlier and has another opportunity to stop the murder if only she can figure out what caused her son to commit the crime in the first place.
The Book Girls Say... If you are looking for more suspenseful novels to enjoy this fall, check out our list with 20 of the best new psychological thrillers.
Embers on the Wind
by Lisa Williamson Rosenberg
This book weaves together a haunting tale of past and present. In 1850 Massachusetts, Whittaker House was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Sadly, some people seeking freedom didn't make it out alive - including Little Annie and Clementine.
More than a century and a half later, Whittaker House is now a vacation rental in the Berkshires. But many of whom visit the house are not there merely as tourists - they are contemporary Black women struggling to reconcile the legacy of slavery.
This haunted story is described as the perfect mix of history and paranormal suspense.
The Book Girls Say... This is a short novel at just over 200 pages, but it covers a lot of ground - with many shifting points of view and storylines. If you prefer books written in a linear style, this one might be a good pick for you.
WARNING: This book deals with many difficult topics, including rape and stolen babies.
This book is currently available with Kindle Unlimited as of August 25, 2022.
Take My Hand
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Civil is fresh out of nursing school and has dreams of making a big difference in her post-segregation African American community. She works for the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, and she’s sent to a rural cabin during her first week on the job. When she arrives, Civil is shocked to find that her patients are children, only 11 and 13 years old.
The girls, Erica and India, are innocent and not even thinking of boys. However, because they are poor and black, those handling their benefits have requested the children be on birth control. Civil struggles with this unexpected aspect of her new career. Despite the shocking reason for meeting the girls, Civil is endeared to them and the family. However, one day when she arrives for her visit, the unthinkable has happened. This event not only forever changes the girls' lives, it also changes the entire trajectory of Civil’s life as she seeks justice in any way she can.
The Book Girls Say… While this historical fiction based on the 1973 legal case of Relf v. Weinberger takes place over more than a season, it’s a heavy read that matches our fall reading style. It’s a book all women should read, so this fall is the perfect time to pick it up. In fact, this new book would be ideal for a fall book club. Just be sure to grab a cozy blanket and box of tissues before you start.
West with Giraffes
by Lynda Rutledge
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 topped 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!
by Colleen Hoover
With almost 500,000 reviews on Goodreads, November 9 by Colleen Hoover (CoHo to her fans) might be the most popular contemporary fiction set in the fall.
The book takes place on November 9th over a series of years, following the one-day-per-year trope. Fallon meetings aspiring novelist Ben the day before moving cross-country. They're so enamored with each other, that they spend the entire day together and then agree to reunite each year on the same day. Fallon's life becomes the inspiration for Ben's novels, but one year Fallon begins doubting that Ben is sharing the truth about his life.
If you like an emotional read full of plot twists, this might be a good read for fall!
The Book Girls Say...While the overall ratings of this book are phenomenal, some reviewers have understandable concerns with Ben's controlling nature coupled with Fallon's lack of confidence. We had similar concerns reading It Ends With Us. However, after sticking with it, we were both satisfied with the final message. We haven't read this one yet, but hope the author brings it back around as well. We also feel like the writing in her books tends to feel more natural in audiobook form. However, the writing doesn't feel strong to us in print.
A Fall of Marigolds
by Susan Meissner
This book was a big hit among those who read it for our 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 beautifully interwoven. 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.
Apples Never Fall
by Liane Moriarty
What screams fall vibes more than apples on the cover of a family drama 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?
One Two Three
by Laurie Frankel
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.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
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.
The Once and Future Witches
by Alix E. Harrow
Historical fiction meets magic and fantasy in this unique novel from the author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
The story centers around the Eastwood sisters - Juniper, Agnes, and Bella. They've been estranged from one another for most of their lives. But on the day of the equinox in 1893, the sisters all find themselves at the same suffragist rally in New Salem. Reunited, the sisters fight for women's rights, as well as the right to practice witchcraft.
Intermixed within this historical fantasy are a few well-known, real-life historical women from the Suffrage Movement, which lends a layer of realism to the magical realism.
This dark and moody novel is filled with beautiful prose, making it the perfect book to read in the fall.
The Book Girls Say... This novel is over 500 pages, so be sure to pick it up when you have the time to devote to it.
Payback's a Witch
by Lana Harper
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.
If you already read this one last fall, you're in luck because the second book in the series - From Bad to Cursed - continues the story of the fued between the Avramov and Thorn families with an opposites attract romance.
The Book Girls Say... The Ex Hex is another recent Halloween rom com, but we didn't love this one as much as we'd expected to. It was a slightly confusing mix of very cheesy and very steamy, but overall, we just found the characters too hard to connect with. The sequel will be released on September 20th, 2022.
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew Sullivan
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. As Lydia delves into his past, she also uncovers a buried memory from her own violent childhood.
This is a twisty crime novel with a very creative puzzle element that will keep readers guessing.
The Book Girls Say... Colorado-based readers will recognize the Bright Ideas bookstore as The Tattered Cover. The author was a bookseller at this Denver book institution during the 1990s and used the store as his inspiration.
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
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.
The Book Girls Say... If you don't have time to add this book to your reading list this fall, it also makes a great winter read!
WARNING: This book includes descriptions of domestic abuse.
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
by Jim DeFede
This is going to sound crazy because it's a book about 9/11, but by far, this is the most uplifting book either of us have read in years! 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.
The Book Girls Say... If you're looking to learn even more about 9/11, we recommend The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History. It's a very heavy book that will leave you in tears, but it's very powerful and informative and we can't recommend it enough! The audio version is excellent and is read by a full cast.
The Glass Forest
by Cynthia Swanson
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.
The Gifted School
by Bruce Holsinger
When we think fall, we think back to school, so this juicy contemporary fiction drama was an obvious choice for our list!
It's the story of four families that have been friends since their children were born, but secrets and resentments were buried along the way.
When they learn that a new, exclusive school will be opening in the town of Crystal, Colorado (which many readers will recognize as a slightly fictionalized version of Boulder, CO), these ambitious parents will go to any length to secure a spot for their children. What starts as good intentions is quickly derailed by very questionable actions as they each fight to get their kids into the new school. Along the way, secrets and lies will resurface in explosive ways.
This novel explores issues of talent versus privilege, achievement versus potential, and the pursuit of prestige at any cost.
The Book Girls Say… This book is on the longer side at 560 pages, and it may take several chapters to keep the large cast of characters straight, but it's worth sticking with it! We highly recommend the audio version of the book as the narrator did an excellent job.
by Laurie Gelman
If you want a back-to-school book with more comedy than drama, then this one is for you! Whether you've been a dedicated PTA volunteer, or worked hard to avoid getting roped in... this book will have you laughing out loud!
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 and aren't too easily offended.
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
The black-and-white striped tents appear overnight. There are no announcements or advertisements, and the circus- with its breathtaking amazement - is only open at night.
Two young magicians - Celia and Marco - have been trained since childhood by their two mentors. The Night Circus is the stage on which the two will compete for superiority, and unbeknownst to them, only one can be left standing.
The Book Girls Say... We also highly recommend The Magician's Lie, which combines the historical fiction elements of Water for Elephants with the fantasy and magical realism elements of The Night Circus. In this novel, the country's most notorious female illusionist is accused of her husband's murder and has one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.
Eliza Starts a Rumor
by Jane L. Rosen
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.
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
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 the perfect spooky book to read in the fall.
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?
A Season for Second Chances
by Jenny Bayliss
When Annie's 26-year marriage ends, she needs a fresh start. When she takes a temporary position as a fall and winter guardian of a historic home in the small seaside community of Willow Bay, the decision turns out to be even more impactful than she expected.
While this is largely a book about finding herself, it only happens through her relationships with her new friends in town. There is a romance thread as she heals, but there's a more significant focus on female friendships. Book lovers will especially love they way these women bond over books!
by Beth Labonte
Looking for a book with cozy fall vibes that reads like a Hallmark movie? We can do you one better - this book will soon be a Hallmark movie!
Amy Fox is a horror novelist with a major case of writer's block. She's heartbroken after recently calling off her fall wedding. And she hates all things pumpkin spice.
When she receives a call that her grandfather broke his wrist driving through a Dunkin Donuts (literally right through the front of the store) she has to return to her hometown of Autumnboro, New Hampshire, to care for him.
But returning home runs the risk of bumping into Kit Parker - her childhood best friend and first love.
The Book Girls Say... True to a Hallmark-style romance, this book is a sweet and clean read. If you enjoy it, you can continue on to the sequel, Maple Sugar Crush. Both books are available with Kindle Unlimited as of August 25, 2022.
If you're looking for another similarly charming, light fall read, check out Milly Johnson's Four Seasons series. Book 3 in the series is An Autumn Crush.
by Jennifer Gracen
Lydia is recently divorced and is looking forward to attending her college roommate's wedding. It will be a much-needed fall getaway with old friends to a beautiful manor in Connecticut. She never expects to meet a man, but she can't help but feel an instant connection with Sam, a friend of the groom.
She's not sure she's ready for a new relationship so soon, but her friends encourage her to give Sam a chance. When the weekend comes to an end, and they each head their separate ways - him to Chicago and her to NY - will that spark survive the distance?
This is not a stereotypical "insta-love" story... it's a refreshing slow burn where the characters like each other enough that they want to get to know each other more.
The Book Girls Say... We tend to like heavier novels in the fall, but sometimes you just need a soft and cozy book with fall vibes between the more intense, emotional reads. Reviewers say that reading this book "is like being wrapped in your favorite blanket with a warm cup of coffee."
This title is the first in a series of four, each set in a different season. All four books are available with Kindle Unlimited as of August 25, 2022.
Less Is Lost
by Andrew Sean Greer
We really debated about adding this new novel to the list because it's the sequel to Less - a book neither of us particularly enjoyed. However, we know that many of you did love Less (it won a Pulitzer after all), so we decided to give this new release the final spot on our fall reading list.
Life is going pretty well for Arthur Less - until it isn't. While his partner Freddy is away in New England, Less receives word that his ex-lover, Robert, has passed away, creating a sudden financial crisis.
Less once again finds himself running from his problems. He accepts a series of literary gigs that have him zigzagging across the US - from the "Mild Mild West" to the South and the mid-Atlantic. But no matter how far he roams, he can't escape himself.
More Fall-ish Authors
The list above includes our favorite cozy autumn books, along with the books at the top of our fall reading lists. However, there are a few other authors that consistently come up as winners for this season. If you need more fall reads for your TBR pile, try Anthony Doers, Colson Whitehead, and Sally Rooney. Some even find fall the perfect season for romance novels by Nicholas Sparks.
More Seasonal Book Recommendations
For even more cozy books to read in autumn, check out our other fall-themed book lists.
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Friday 11th of November 2022
I love picking up historical fiction during the colder months!. As soon as fall hits I started gravitating towards the historical fiction. But I do have to have some other genres in my TBR pile so I am thrilled to have found these recommendations. I will be sure to join the Facebook group too!
My favorite fall read so far has been the “Daughters of Teutobod” by Kurt Hansen(http://www.kurthansenauthor.com/). The book focuses on three women, living in vastly different times and places, who are united by the nature of the difficulties they faced and how they persevered. This book (surprisingly) brought up a lot of emotion within and was beautifully written. I think it should be on a future list! Hope your group will check it out and happy reading!
Friday 26th of August 2022
Thanks for all the great monthly suggestions and commentary. I am a fan of Sarah Addison Allen and I think her books “First Frost” or “The Sugar Queen”would fit with the fall theme. She also has a new book being released on Aug 30, “Other Birds”.
Thursday 7th of October 2021
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.