It might be almost 85 degrees in New Jersey on October 10th, but that doesn’t mean I’m not fully decorated for Halloween, drinking a pumpkin spice latte, and lighting the million Bath & Body Works candles I definitely purchased. And, of course, reading all the spooky, fall-themed books I can get my hands on. Here are 10 books that will give you all the ~*fall vibes*~ you might be missing out on right now.
1. Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye
This is my current read, and as soon as I read the first few pages, I could tell it was going to be perfect for the fall season. Set in a gothic old mansion and a boarding school in the 1800s in England, this Jane Eyre retelling is the story of Jane Steele, a Dexter-esque girl who commits her first murder at age nine. She loves the classic Jane, and throughout the book compares her actions with Jane Eyre’s.
Plus, the first chapter ends with, “Reader, I murdered him,” and how can you resist that!
2. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Another current read (/listen) Her Body and Other Parties was recently nominated for the National Book Award, and has been getting a lot of buzz on Twitter and booktube. If you read Scary Stories to Read in the Dark, growing up, chances are you had nightmares based on the Green Ribbon story — the girl who wears a green ribbon around her neck until, when she takes it off, her head comes off. The first story in this collection, “The Husband Stitch” is a re-imagining of that story, and it is so eerie and unsettling you won’t be able to stop reading.
Also, the audio book is amazingly narrated if that’s more your speed!
3. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
I read this earilier in the year and absolutely fell in love with it. Set on a college campus that is entirely focused on theater, you know you’re in for a compelling, dramatic ride, and this debut novel will not disappoint.
One of the best kinds of books to read in the fall is a book set on a high school or college campus. Add in a mysterious death, a group of students, and a night that changes all of their lives and you have If We Were Villains by M/L. Rio. This is one of my favorite books of the year, and a perfect autumnal read for sure.
4. The Secret Place by Tana French
Another campus novel, The Secret Place is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Series. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, you can definitely read this as a standalone, but I recommend giving the whole series a shot — it’s one of my favorites of all time.
The Secret Place is the story of a group of friends, a murder on campus, and the desperate search for the truth among teenage girls who will do anything to protect one another. Very atmospheric and perfect for the fall.
5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
This might be on nearly every fall list I’ve seen so far this year, but for good reason. Three Dark Crowns takes place on a gloomy island where every several years, a set of triplets are born — each one an heir to the throne. However, only one can be queen. In order to take the throne, they have to kill the other sisters.
Dark and full of magic, this is a great fall read for anyone looking to dip their feet into fantasy that isn’t too overwhelming.
6. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I can’t help but recommend all the campus novels and thrillers this time of year, and Ruth Ware’s latest release, The Lying Game is the perfect addition to your fall to-read list. Set several year after a group of girls leave a boarding school by the sea, they are reunited when one of their group sends a single text: I need you.
Throughout their time together they played a game where they would lie to anyone they came across for points. Years later, their biggest lie is back to haunt them. I think this is her best novel yet, but none of Ruth Ware’s novels is a bad pick this season!
7. The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
While I wasn’t personally the biggest fan of this book overall, I can’t help but recommend it if you’re looking for something truly bizarre and extremely creepy. If haunted houses are your thing, definitely look no further than The Grip of It. This is the story of a young couple looking to escape the city and start fresh — and they do, in a house they get for a huge bargain that is not just haunted, but almost possessed.
Between an incessant rumbling noise, their creepy neighbor, and the drawings that appear on their walls, they soon feel like the house has a mind of its own, quickly taking their sanity away.
8. Slade House by David Mitchell
If you want a haunted house story done right, David Mitchell’s Slade House. is the perfect one to start with. While this is a tie-in to his 2014 release The Bone Clocks, I think this is perfectly fine read as a standalone novel.
Slade House is a creepy house that brings people together over time — it spans five decades and knits itself together the way only a David Mitchell novel can, and will pull you in from the first page.
9. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
I was excited to read this the second I heard Krysten Ritter was writing a book, just because I love her so much in Jessica Jones. Once I read the premise, though, I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP.
Bonfire is a thriller with one of my favorite tropes — a young woman forced to return to her home town and the past she’s been trying to outrun for years because something weird happens that she has to investigate. In this case, it’s Abby Williams, a lawyer brought back home for a case she’s working on.
I haven’t read this one yet, but everything about it makes me think of fall, and I’m pretty positive Krysten Ritter won’t disappoint.
10. Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl
This is another one that is constantly recommended as the perfect fall read, but for good reason — it is truly the perfect book for fall.
It’s extremely long, and perfect for getting lost in on a chilly fall day (should we ever get there) and enjoying with a hot cup of coffee. Plus, it is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. It’s about a horror film maker, so its only fitting, but even so, this murder mystery will keep you up way past your bedtime trying to figure out just what the heck is happening.
What books scream “fall” to you?