I love everything about fall—the pumpkins (and pumpkin spice lattes), sweaters, falling leaves, candy corn, the cool weather, and, of course, cozy days spent curled up reading. What more could you need? A list of books just meant for the fall season? Look no further.
A fierce, beautifully crafted story, AT THE EDGE OF THE ORCHARD follows James and Sadie Goodenough as they settle in northwest Ohio in 1838. With their five children they relentlessly cultivate their patch of farmland using saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed. Fifteen years later, their youngest child, Robert, wanders through Gold Rush California, restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind. The best book to read after a full afternoon of apple picking.
Eleanor Flood knows her life is a mess. But today she will shower, dress, drop her son off at school, enjoy her yoga class and poetry lesson—maybe even initiate sex with her husband. Or that was the plan before her son fakes sick, her husband forgets to mention his vacation, and an encounter with a former colleague threatens to reveal a family secret. Hilarious and heartfelt, this is the fall equivalent of a summer beach book.
You can tell this is a perfect fall read just from the gorgeous cover alone. THE SIGNAL FLAME tells the heartbreaking story of a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War. This emotional, multilayered portrait of a family honors the cycles of earth and body, humming with blood and passion.
There’s nothing like mysterious historical fiction that makes me want to grab a blanket and settle in for a cozy day of reading. In THE HISTORIAN, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters while exploring her father’s library late one night. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.
A wickedly funny and smart family drama, THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC follows Calvin Moretti on his quest toward adulthood. Saddled with debt after dropping out of grad school, Cal moves back into his childhood home and reverts to his high school habits. When he learns that his dad is battling cancer and his family’s financial state has deteriorated, Cal realizes he might not be as helpless as he thought. A hilarious family drama to read as we head into prime holiday season with our families.
An apple on the cover is usually a good indicator of a fun fall book. That certainly holds true for Sarah Addison Allen’s THE FIRST FROST—an enchanting novel about a family made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree…and the magic that swirls around it.
A lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures, you must add THE FORTUNE HUNTER to your autumnal TBR pile. Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is unfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. When her passion for horseback riding causes her path to cross with a dashing young horseman named Captain Bay Middleton, Sisi finds love again. Unfortunately, Bay is already entangled with a clever, plainspoken heiress whose money Bay desperately needs.
One of my old favorite October traditions is watching the movie adaptation of PRACTICAL MAGIC. My new favorite tradition is reading THE RULES OF MAGIC, the spellbinding prequel to PRACTICAL MAGIC. PRACTICAL MAGIC is about two sisters who have to learn the hard rules of magic from their aunts when one of their abusive suddenly dies. THE RULES OF MAGIC takes readers into the earlier lives of the revered aunts, Franny and Jet Owens.
A stirring examination that explores the human capacity for violence, love, and forgiveness, CARTHAGE plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young corporal haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression while unraveling the story of a young girl’s disappearance. Everything about this book makes me want to grab a blanket and head to a cozy reading nook for an afternoon of riveting reading.
An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, SING, UNBURIED, SING journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds. A majestic and important novel, rich with Jesmyn Ward’s stunning language, this is my favorite book published this fall.
WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A finalist for the Kirkus Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and a New York Times bestseller, this majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi, is a “tour de force” (O, The Oprah Magazine) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.
Jesmyn Ward’s historic second National Book Award–winner is “perfectly poised for the moment” (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. “Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it” (Buzzfeed).
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.
His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic and unforgettable family story and “an odyssey through rural Mississippi’s past and present” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
In her original and haunting debut novel, Amanda Coplin spins an engrossing tale of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West and the dramatic consequences of his actions. Pour yourself a glass of warm apple cider and settle in for an epic read.
A starkly beautiful and morally complicated novel set in 1920s rural Alabama, WORK LIKE ANY OTHER is the story of Roscoe T Martin, a prideful electrician sent to prison after his illegal siphoning of the state’s electrical power to use on a family farm leads to an innocent man’s death. This is the perfect book to read out on the porch as the leaves are changing colors.
A starkly beautiful and morally complicated novel set in 1920s rural Alabama, WORK LIKE ANY OTHER is the story of Roscoe T Martin, a prideful electrician sent to prison after his illegal siphoning of the state’s electrical power to use on a family farm leads to an innocent man’s death.
It wouldn’t be fall without one good ghost story. This fall, you should read THE UNQUIET GRAVE—a finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.
Photo credit: iStock / Andrii Medvediuk