Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
It is not easy to narrow down a list of the best fall books. The chilly, colorful world outside and the cozy indoors are so irresistibly luring, inviting us to make some tea, grab a snuggly blanket, sink into our favorite reading chair, light a woodsy candle and grab a book – any book, anything is game.
Yet, some books can even further enhance the magic of the long October and November evenings and help you get all the autumn vibes. The problem is – all of us have a different view of what a perfect fall read would be.
Others prefer horror, especially as Halloween approaches.
Many would rather sink into a warm, cozy, Gilmore Girls style story. While others can’t even imagine their fall TBR without a witchy story or two.
Me? I’m a mix of all of the above. I usually grab a bit of everything and keep swapping them as my mood shifts.
All the books down below I’ve read during the fall, and I enjoyed every single one of them so much. Every year I add one or two more books to this list; all of them are just so – perfect for the fall season.
The list is not very long, but it keeps growing. And I know that we all have different tastes and many of you will have a completely different idea of what a perfect fall read would be.
But if you ask me what are the best, the coziest, the spookiest books, truly able to give me all the autumnal vibes and put me in the pumpkin spice latte mood, these would be it.
I tried to add a bit of everything and hopefully you’ll find that at least a couple of these are grabbing your attention. So if your fall TBR for this year is not full yet, check out the titles that I personally consider to be some of the best books for fall I’ve ever read…
Best Fall Books to Read during the Cozy & Spooky Season
1. Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
One of my 2022 favorites, a slowburn but captivating story set in early 19th century Edinburgh about a young lady determined to become a surgeon. But, to pass the medical examination, she needs all the practice she can get, which is why a chance acquaintance with a young resurrection man suddenly seems like a chance of her lifetime.
Read it if you are interested in gothic-y settings, gory, chilling details, grave robbers, fantasy twists and people determined to become more than what they’re told they could be. Just keep in mind that this is more a love story than a romance (yes, there’s a difference).
2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This book people either love or hate. But for me, it’s one of the best fall books out there – fairytale-inspired, whimsical and magical. With a bit of angsty romance as well, and a truly… unique antagonist.
Agnieszka lives in a picturesque little valley set on the edge of a magical forest. The villagers are constantly under threat by the corrupted Wood, and their only hope and protection comes from a powerful wizard called the Dragon. But in return, every ten years, the Dragon takes a young girl from the valley to serve him in his tower.
3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I loved this one so much, but I know a lot of adult readers hated it – mostly because it freaked them out. This book is a middle-grade horror. It is really short, so you can easily pick it up whenever you want to add some spooky vibes to your October days.
Coraline is bored in her new house, but then she finds a door with a secret passage behind them. Through them, she enters a parallel universe with her ‘other’ family living a mirrored life to her own. But the more time she spends there, the more this other life seems distorted. And fewer are the chances for Coraline to ever get her real family back.
4. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
One of my 2021 favorites, a book that was by no means perfect, yet the story captivated me and I can’t wait for book #2, Hell Bent, to be published. Ninth House is a mix of dark academia, a ghost story and a murder mystery – if that sounds good to you, make sure to check it out.
Alex Stern can see ghosts, which got her a ticket to Yale. There, she is expected to supervise rituals secret societies perform, as these rituals attract the dead. But, with her mentor Darlington missing and a girl’s body being found on the campus, Alex might be in over her head trying to figure out what really is going on.
5. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
A bit of a young adult murder mystery, a bit of dark academia. Quirky main character. Gothic exclusive boarding school. Atmospheric read and a promise of much more to come. Just a few reasons to check out the Truly Devious series.
In 1936, the wife and daughter of the founder of Ellingham Academy had been kidnapped and the only clue as to what happened to them was a mocking riddle song signed with ‘Truly, Devious’. In the present day, we follow Stevie, a girl obsessed with unsolved murder cases. Stevie is convinced she could solve the Truly Devious mystery… But then a new tragedy strikes the academy.
6. The Girl in White by Lindsay Currie
May I interest you in a middle-grade ghost story set in a small town where it’s Halloween all year round? Perfect if you want atmospheric narration, haunted town setting and some chills, without it being too scary.
The story follows twelve-year-old Mallory, who lives in Eastport, a place famous for its legends of ghosts, curses and haunted places. Though most of the stories are just that – stories, there seems to be a vengeful ghost wandering around, and she’s determined to get Mallory’s attention.
(Currie’s Scratch Scratch would be another great option.)
7. Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane
Autumn is a perfect time for all kinds of thrillers and murder mysteries. I chose this one because it has a perfect fall setting – an idyllic college town in central New York State around the end of September. Not exactly cozy, not exactly school setting, but still a bit of both.
Lila Ridgefield has just found out something horrible about her husband. She decides to take matters into her own hands, but everything goes horribly wrong. Not only does her husband’s body go missing, but now someone is sending her suggestive, sinister notes. And her carefully constructed plan is completely falling apart.
8. The Retreat by Mark Edwards
If you are in the mood for a mystery that borders with horror and may or may not be paranormal, definitely check out The Retreat. It follows Lucas, a horror novelist, who goes to a little writer’s retreat set in Wales to work on his latest book.
The whole place seems unsettling – the owner’s daughter has gone missing two years ago, a lot of people act suspiciously and there’s even a local legend about a witch that takes children into the woods. And then strange things start happening in and around the retreat. And lead more and more people to believe a little girl’s ghost is haunting the house.
9. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier is a queen of slow, unsettling, ominous plot development where you are left until the very end to wonder what really is going on. Many people love her Rebecca the most. I read it in 2021 and wasn’t impressed; My Cousin Rachel is still my favorite of hers.
The story is set in the nineteenth century. While traveling in Italy, Philip Ashley’s beloved uncle Ambrose marries a woman named Rachel and soon dies under mysterious circumstances. Philip is convinced Rachel is responsible for his death. But then he meets her. And he’s not sure of anything anymore.
10. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
I just had to add House of Hollow to my best fall books list. I read it in October 2021 and I really enjoyed it. It was like a dark modern fairytale – twisty and atmospheric, fantastical, gory at moments. Though it wasn’t perfect, it was definitely a story I will remember for a long time.
The story follows three Hollow sisters who went missing for a month when they were children and weird things started happening around them ever since they came back. Ten years later the oldest sister mysteriously disappears again, and to find her, the other two have to discover what happened to the three of them when they first went missing.
11. Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries #1) by Charlaine Harris
Cozy mysteries are gaining in popularity and they are absolutely perfect to snuggle with on chilly autumn evenings. Though plot and twist-wise they are not exactly the cream of the crop, there’s something irresistible about the warm, moody settings, small-town vibes and a bunch of amateur detectives solving murders.
Up until this year, I’ve only watched Hallmark Mysteries; I’ve never actually read any. But I’ve decided to change that and started with the first book in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, my favorite cozy mystery series about a librarian who just can’t seem to stay away whenever there’s a crime scene around.
12. Keeper of Enchanted Rooms (Whimbrel House #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg
And if you’d rather set the mood with a cozy fantasy, one of my favorites is the first in the Whimbrel House series, Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg. I loved it, it was so cozy and atmospheric; a haunted house trope with a historical setting and the most wholesome vibes ever.
Hulda Larkin has an interesting job – she helps owners of enchanted houses tame their homes. But her latest assignment, Whimbrel House, is proving to be a challenge even for someone with her experience. But the danger comes from a much darker force than any house Hulda ever dealt with… except maybe one.
So, that’s it. That’s all for now. Let me know if you’ve read any of these, what you thought of them and what you think the best fall books are…