Here are five books you should read to kickstart Autumn

You know a season is global regardless of hemisphere when it is heralded by the arrival of overpriced coffee beverages by coffee chains. It’s September, which means it’s pumpkin spice latte season. And the only thing you should be holding other than a cup of pumpkin spice latte is a book. Not just any book. Books that complete the picture, stir the emotion, of autumn. It’s hard to describe, but “autumn books” evoke feelings ranging from whimsical, mysterious, warm, cozy, and creepy (as we inch closer to Halloween).

Here are a few of my recommendations for September.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt.

In one sentence: Four young students studying Greek fall into all sorts of problems, with all the dramatic flair.

This book will remain a mainstay in my selection of favorites. It does hold a position for being a polarizing piece of work. Some claim it is pretentious, some claim it is xenophobic. But I love it for Tartt’s exceptional writing and storytelling prowess. Very few authors have the skill to put readers in high-ceiling rooms with light wafting through the windows that you can see the dust particles in the air, to have them smell the fragrance of days-old bouquets in grandiose vases. Tartt can do all that while attaching you to deeply flawed characters with problematic behaviors and tendencies. I enjoyed it.

If you don’t have the stomach or patience to wade through this kind of story, skip this book.

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier.

In one sentence: Young woman marries seemingly perfect wealthy widow, realizes she may be a bad rebound. Yikes.

This story shouldn’t need any introduction. Rebecca was made famous by one of my favorite directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a slow transition from romance to darkness, a pinnacle of Gothic stories, if I may say so.

A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab.

In one sentence: A magician who is the last of his kind gets entangled in a series of murders and betrayals across multi-dimensions of London.

I read this around the same time last year and devoured the entire trilogy in a few weeks. I generally steer away from YA because I don’t enjoy the characters or the conflicts they tend to have, but this one is an exception. If you enjoy fantasy, adventure, pirates, magic, and dueling, this book is for you.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, Kate Racculia.

In one sentence: Young woman with occult levels of detail-oriented sleuthing follows a competitive scavenger hunt, uncovers more than she expects.

Halfway through reading this book the first time, I knew that Kate Racculia would be one of my favorite authors. I picked this book up because the main character’s job was one so rare across most contemporary fiction—a prospect researcher for a nonprofit, which is exactly what I was doing at the time. I enjoyed how Racculia took this character and expanded her skillsets to a much more interesting world. If only it had worked out the same for me, maybe I’d still be working in the social sector. Nah. Probably not.

Reprieve, James Han Mattson.

In one sentence: Four contestants make their way through a house of horrors to win a grand cash prize, but one of them is murdered. Oops.

Do not pick up this book expecting a horror story, because that’s not what it ultimately is. Mattson uses human taste for terror as a backdrop to dissect intersecting social issues like socioeconomic disparity and racism.

If you’re interested in reading some spoiler-free reviews of books within the same vein, check out my review of Chelsea G. Summers’ A Certain Hunger. Or, maybe check out this original short story about a woman’s dating horrors.

Did any of these titles interest you? Let me know in the comments!


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