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12 Best Books to Read Right Now to Feel the Fall Autumn Season

the best books set in the fall autumn season

The arrival of fall always puts us in the mood to read more (sort of like the Nordic tradition of Easter crime, a new season makes us want to curl up with a book). But what’s the best book to crack open when the calendar officially marks the start of autumn? In this edition of recommended reads, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares an eclectic curated list of some of the best books set in the fall (or autumn) season. Somewhere in this mix is your next great read, we promise.

what are some the best books set in the fall season?

There is something autumnal about the act of reading itself. As the weather starts to cool down, nothing feels better than curling up on the sofa with a mug full of hot cider, and escaping into the embrace of a good book.

books set in the fall autumn

What are the best books set in the fall autumn season?

Feeling cozy and warm while orange leaves fall on the other side of the window – that right there is the essence of autumn.

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Whether you’re taking a fall vacation, or just taking a break from your fall movie marathon, bringing along a book set in the autumn will amplify all those great fall feels. And while there are some fantastic new books coming in September and October this year, you may be more in the mood for a Throwback.

To help you make the absolute most out of the season, we have compiled a list of ten books that are sure to get you ready for sweater weather. Expect the spooky, the supernatural, and a spotlight trained on that special time when, each year, we make space for the world to change. September, October and November each have their own pace and color palette – this list should see you all the way through the season.

What are the best books set in the fall autumn season?

What are the best books set in the fall autumn season?

And for maximum enjoyment, you may want to pick up a pumpkin spice latte to sip as you read these wonderful autumn tales.

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt.


Best books set in the fall autumn season

The Secret History is a college novel that has become the stuff of legends. And why not? It contains the best of nearly everything that fall has to offer: a back-to-school story, mysterious and dark deeds under the cover of night, and immersion in the iconic atmosphere of New England.

Follow Richard, the new kid in town, as he infiltrates an elite and mysterious secret society on campus. In the first chapter you will watch as they brutally kill one of their own members – and then you will go back in time to find out why. If there was just one book that perfectly encapsulates the way that fall feels – for many of us, this would be the one.

BUY NOW: $14.39.

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2. Autumn by Ali Smith.


Autumn is the first novel in Smith’s “Seasonal Quartet,” and how perfect – because in so many ways, autumn does feel like the beginning of things.

Set in the United Kingdom, mostly in 2016, it covers the friendship between Elizabeth, and the elderly man, Daniel, who babysat her when she was a child. The book leans into the ethereal, echoing the fleeting nature of the season in the ways it chooses to examine art, politics, history and the passage of time.

BUY NOW: $10.59.

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.


Set in November, in the heart of Scorpio season, The Scorpio Races lives on the border between fantasy and realism. It follows the life of Puck – a young girl determined to race her horse in her town’s annual, deadly competition. Come for Stiefvater’s electric writing, and stay for a sweet and enveloping story about love and family. As an added bonus, the story invents its own fall dessert – the delicious “November Cakes” – and there is an actual recipe available on Stiefvater’s website.

BUY NOW: $9.99.

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.


A book of stories within a story, The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter in the form of a novel to bibliophiles everywhere. Elderly novelist Vida Winter summons Margaret Lea, the book’s narrator, to ask Lea if she will write a biography of Winter’s life. The book is set in autumn, and is also imbued with a particularly autumnal coziness that can only come from a book about book-lovers, for book-lovers. And for good measure, there are also a couple of ghosts. If you have access to a fireplace, this is a fireplace-worthy novel if there ever was one.

BUY NOW: $14.72.

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This dreamy, delectable novel is a whirlwind trip to the circus, covered in glitter and stamped with magic – and you will want to read it over and over again. The setting of the crisp autumn air pairs perfectly with the story at hand, making it one of our picks for the best books set in the fall season. Marco and Celia, two performers in the magical Le Cirque des Rêves, are rivals in a long-standing challenge. And of course, everything is not as it appears. If you ever needed proof that fall is the most fantastical season of them all, Morgenstern’s novel is sure to remind you.


The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert. If you are a fan of romance, this sweet novel will make all of your fluffy fall dreams come true. Sanna, a cider maker on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, has her life changed forever when a man and his young wind up at the orchard. If you want a book for a relaxing autumn afternoon, this is the one to choose.  It is bittersweet, full of heart, and tinged with just a little splash of magic – plus, the descriptions of all things orchard will get you feeling readier than ever for the season.


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Jackson is the queen of eerie, discomfiting horror, and The Haunting of Hill House is one of her best. Adapted as a show for Netflix last year, this spooky novel checks all the necessary boxes for a scary good time.

Haunted house? Check.  Strangers trapped together? Check. Staff who seem to know more than they’re letting on? Check. There are ghosts, mysterious pasts, and the moment where the book’s narration begins its squeaky peel away from reality. If you see autumn as an opportunity to delve into the unsettling, this is the novel for you.

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It by Stephen King. Now that a second feature film adaptation is in theaters, it’s the perfect time to revisit It. The novel is about The Losers Club, a lovable group of friends who come up against an insurmountable evil in the form of Pennywise, a terrifying killer clown. The story alternates between the past and present, showing how the friends have to face and re-face their fears and trauma throughout their lives. If you want a reading experience that will actually make your heart race, this one will do the job.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. Valentine’s book is technically for children, but it is so sparkling with creativity that it is worth everyone’s attention. September is a twelve-year-old girl who leaves her home in Omaha, Nebraska to accompany a figure called the Green Wind on a journey to Fairyland. And in Fairyland, “Autumn Is the Kingdom Where Everything Changes” – an actual place one can go, where the season never ends. You have never read a book like this one before, and you will never think of autumn the same way again.


Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Forget Twilight, and even Dracula – this is the best (spoiler alert!) vampire novel you will ever read. It is set in Sweden in the fall of 1981, and it centers around the unusual friendship between Oskar and Eli, the new girl next door. Complex and visceral, this is the kind of book that will haunt you for months after you read it. But in spite of all the darkness, there is real love and friendship at its core, making it a true autumnal masterpiece – equal parts horror and heart.   

best books set in the fall autumn season

Some of the best books set in the fall autumn season.

best books to read in the fall/autumn season

That’s it! Ten books set in the fall/autumn season – some spooky, some serious and some sweetly romantic. Happy reading! What’s next on your reading list?

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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