We can probably say this without contest: fall is the best season. “Cozy” season always comes with perfect crisp days, gorgeous foliage, Halloween movie marathons, snug socks, homecoming dances and games, and plenty of new book recommendations. So before the season slips by too quickly, we’re enjoying our favorite fall things and recommending some great books to read this autumn.
Sarah Jane’s Favorite Fall Thing: Warm Spiked Drinks
Sometimes the best part of fall is getting out of the chilly weather and going to a cozy place (or your own cozy kitchen) for a hot drink. Whether your beverage of choice is hot apple cider, mulled wine, or (my personal favorite) a nice, strong hot toddy, it will pair well with BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, a heartwarming story. Britt-Marie, the central character, is socially awkward, fussy, and can’t stand a mess. This often leaves her without friends, so when she walks out on her cheating husband, she is on her own in her small backwater town. She takes a job as a caretaker at a recreation center, where she meets an assortment of local misfits as well as a supremely untalented children’s soccer team. This story is a celebration of community, one you won’t want to miss.
Backman’s latest, BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, is an irresistible novel about finding love and second chances in the most unlikely of places. We are packing our bags to move to Sweden.
Amy’s Favorite Fall Thing: “Spooky Szn”
I don’t know about y’all, but I like to enter this spooky season gently. I’ll ramp up into full-on horror mode as we get closer and closer to Halloween, but for spooky season, I like to start the dark descent with my current obsession with thrillers. I like something gothic and atmospheric, with an especially compelling mystery at its center. The perfect read to kick off your spooky season that hits all of that criteria is THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone. An all-knowing home system (kind of like if Alexa developed a more sentient artificial intelligence) dregs up old memories of things long buried between the three college friends who created it. After a bitter business feud and love triangle drove them apart, the three are reunited at the place where they created this home system, to try to fix a bug in the code. As tension mounts, the house begins to grow more and more sinister, and the team must figure out if these creepy and sometimes evil glitches come from the code—or a supernatural source. This story is so compelling, with plenty of creepy visuals, claustrophobic atmosphere, a big spooky house, and a thrilling mystery. If you want a literary “Black Mirror” episode to ease you into the Halloween season, this is the absolute perfect place to start.
Emily’s Favorite Fall Thing: Back to School Season
Even though I’ve finished school, I now have enough teacher friends to continue thinking of fall as back-to-school season. In the third and final memoir from the author of ANGELA’S ASHES, Frank McCourt tells insightful, often hilarious anecdotes from his thirty-year teaching career in New York. He reflects on how the daily task of capturing the attention of desk-bound teenagers had a profound impact on his approach to writing. TEACHER MAN is one of my all-time favorite books and the perfect gift for the educators in your life.
Tolani’s Favorite Fall Thing: Her Faux Leather Motorcycle Jacket
Chunky cardigans, denim jackets, and wool blazers are all great, but there’s no piece of autumnal outerwear I love more than my faux leather moto jacket—which, unfortunately, I get to wear only for a short time between the warm days of summer and brief cool days of fall. For extra cold days, when you avoid going outside altogether, James Boice’s nostalgic crime-thriller WHO KILLED THE FONZ? is the perfect book to dig into. Remembered for his unmistakable coolness, emphasized by his covetable black leather jacket, Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli (of Happy Days fame) is at the center of this mystery. After losing control of his bike, the Fonz is presumed dead—only his body is nowhere to be found. This novel is also a homecoming story of sorts, as Richie Cunningham (also from Happy Days) races home from Hollywood to find out what happened to his childhood friend. Moto jackets, homecoming, mystery, and nostalgia—this is a book you’ll want to read this fall.
Sarah Jane’s Other Favorite Fall Thing: Pumpkin Picking
One of my favorite things to do in fall is to take a day trip to a farm to pick pumpkins and apples, hop on a hayride, do a corn maze, and eat way too many apple-cider donuts. After a day out in the crisp fall weather, the perfect book to curl up with is NIGHT SHIFT, a chilling collection of stories by Stephen King. It includes his horror story “Children of the Corn,” so it’s probably best to wait until you’re safely home before reading it .
“Children of the Corn,” a short story from the collection NIGHT SHIFT, has spawned an ongoing horror franchise with sequel after sequel. The story follows a couple who accidentally hit a boy while driving through an abandoned town in Nebraska. They soon discover that all inhabitants over the age of 19 have fallen victim to an all-child, pagan cult that worships a demonic entity who inhabits the cornfields that surround the town. Now they must fight for their lives or become victims of this vicious cult themselves.
Amy’s Other Favorite Fall Thing: Pumpkin Spice Everything
Every year when September rolls around, we all look forward to one thing. Pumpkin. Spice. Everything. Nothing is cozier than cuddling up with a pumpkin-spice latte (and, if you’re like me, a pumpkin-spice muffin) and a feel-good read. This autumn, the perfect pairing for your pumpkin addiction is PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell, a graphic novel that follows the friendship of two teens, Deja and Josiah, who reunite every fall at a pumpkin patch, where they work. As their senior year of high school begins, they are faced with a final adventure as the last year of school also signals their final shifts at the pumpkin patch. This graphic novel is so sweet, with truly incredible art from illustrator Faith Erin Hicks, and it’s already my favorite new addition of 2019. So grab your weighted blanket, your pumpkin-spice latte, and this wonderful book, and settle in for an adorable adventure that you can read all in one sitting.
Tolani’s Other Favorite Fall Thing: A Bowl of Chili
Every fall, I stock up on my favorite hard cider (Woodchuck) and whip up my famous hard apple cider chili for the family. Every bowl is full of hearty proteins—Italian sausage, kidney beans, quinoa, and veggies—with a warm, sweet touch of cinnamon and hard apple cider. This year, as you’re throwing down in the kitchen, I recommend Jacqueline Woodson’s RED AT THE BONE in between stirs of chili and sips of cider. RED AT THE BONE is a novel not without warmth that explores family legacy and tradition as well as identity, class, and the oh-so-complex mother-daughter relationship. A must-read for fall—even the cover is sporting a nice autumn palette!