20 Autumn Reads to Pick Up at the Library

Crystal Jackson

Autumn readingPhoto by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Every bookworm loves having a stack of books on standby just waiting to be read. I’m no exception to this rule. Just as soon as I’m nearly caught up on reading, I find myself adding to the pile. It never ends.

The books I read depend entirely on my mood. As the days begin to get darker and the nights longer, my attention switches to my autumn reading list. While I’d love to drop my own book into this pile with an anything-but-gentle nudge toward my contemporary romance series and its latest release, even I can put aside the shameless self-promotion long enough to tell you about some truly terrific reads to dive into this Fall. Some of them are exciting new releases while others qualify as old favorites, read many times and savored.

Here are a few books you’ll find on my bookshelf each season:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I’ve read this novel countless times. This is a great read for lovers of history, legend, vampires, and gothic horror. There may also be a love story tucked inside.

The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman

This author’s greatest talent is the sense of atmosphere she creates in her stories. Expect the tension to start tight and get tighter in a read that’s nearly impossible to put down. Read this with snacks so you don’t starve!

Dracula by Brahm Stoker

Yes, it’s a classic. No, it’s not boring. Pair this with The Historian to get the history — and future — of Vlad Dracula.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

While horror is certainly an element here, expect your heartstrings to be tugged by Frankenstein’s monster. If you’ve yet to read this classic tale, make this the year you do it.

The Fate of Wolves by Tarrant Smith

Werewolves, hot romance, and an ancient curse — The Fate of Wolves has it all. The tantalizing second book in the Legends of the Pale series does not disappoint. You’ll love it so much that you’ll quickly snatch up The Love of Gods and The Dreams of Demons. The best part is that you'll be supporting a local author in the process.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A book for book lovers, The Thirteenth Tale creates a sense of mystery and atmosphere. I have returned time and again to read this gorgeous story. Booklist calls it a “story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre”, and I must wholeheartedly agree.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

A socialite is sent on a welfare check to her cousin in this chilling gothic horror. A decaying mansion, silent servants, whispers of murder, and walls that can hear you all converge to give you the gothic horror read you’ve been waiting for. Perhaps read this one with the lights on — all of them.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Another classic makes the list and shouldn’t be missed. Mix one part love story, one part gothic horror, and one part coming-of-age tale, and you’ve got Jane Eyre. Think of this less as assigned reading and more as a classic you won’t want to put down.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

It’s rare that I hate a main character at the beginning and yet come to love him by the end, but the Gargoyle’s strange alchemy creates this effect. This page-turning story starts with a fiery car crash, involves a mysterious sculptor of grotesques (commonly known as gargoyles), and a story of past lives that keep intersecting. At least, if you believe her.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

If you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, let’s all pause so that I can process my shock and horror. While the movie holds a special place in my heart, Practical Magic in book form is even better (if you can believe that). This beautiful story of magic, sisterhood, and secrets is a perfect autumnal read.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Moving into a new house ought to be cause for celebration. And it is — until it’s not. What begins as a suburban fantasy quickly turns into a nightmare. Is the house next door haunted, or is something more sinister at work? You won’t know until you read it.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

A hen night in a cabin sounds lovely, right? Wrong. A reclusive author accepts an invitation from a former friend, but she doesn’t expect the glass walls and remote location — or that all the personal history could lead to murder. Perhaps a club, a stripper, and some drinks might have been a better plan — but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless from the safety of your cozy and, hopefully, murder-free home.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I will always recommend this book to lovers of suspense and mystery. It’s a classic for a reason. Ten people are summoned to an island from which they cannot leave and are read a list of their crimes over dinner. Where did the voice come from? Who issued the invitation? Are they guilty of the crimes for which they’re being judged? As murders begin and terror mounts, absolutely everyone is a suspect.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Rad Bradbury

This creepy tale isn’t just for fans of science fiction. A sinister carnival, two friends, and a tantalizing atmosphere will draw you in and leave you riveted. Bradbury is a master of the craft, and his words will lure you in and keep you spellbound. The beauty of this novel doesn’t lessen the horror — and vice versa.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Poe should be required reading for this time of year. The tension of the Tell-Tale Heart will snag your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat. While a short read, it’s certainly an apt one for the spooky season.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Gothic horror, romance, mystery — The Phantom of the Opera will have you enthralled, then horrified, and may even break your heart a little. If you’re a fan of the musical, you’ll love the backstory the play doesn’t give you.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Macabre Tales by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was always a favorite of mine as a child. While I was more familiar with the Disney cartoon version — and later the Johnny Depp one — the story is creepy and fascinating. This is a ghost story you don’t wan to miss.

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

A novelist wakes up trapped in a house — surrounded by snow with no means of escape. The house itself is a mystery, and how she came to be there is just one piece of the puzzle. I spent half this book not entirely sure what was going on and riveted nonetheless. This dark and haunting story might keep you up nights. “You’ll feel me in the fall backwards.”

The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho

A stranger comes to town to try to prove humanity is, at heart, evil by making a tantalizing offer that sends shock waves through the town as they grapple with greed, fear, and what it means to be human. Enjoy this thought-provoking novel on a chilly dark night and decide what you would do.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Despite the recent controversy around Rowling’s transphobic sentiments, the Harry Potter series will always be one I recommend. Its message is one the author would do well to pay heed to — one that accepts others for who they are and brings out the magic in us all. These wonderful stories might have been written for children, but I savored each one as an adult and will do so … always.

Now that autumn is nearly here, I’m happily planning to switch into my seasonal reading mode — just as soon as I finish the current fat stack I’ve been working my way down. While new reads are plentiful, there’s something comforting about throwing on our favorite boyfriend hoodie, lighting some candles, and settling in with a soft blanket and an old favorite.

Head to the Morgan County Library to pick up your Fall reading. If they don't have your books in stock, you can request them through an interlibrary loan. Be sure to ask your local library staff to add their recommendations to your Fall reading list. Happy reading!

You can show your support for your local library by joining the Friends of the Morgan County Library, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Your membership fee and any donations go directly to support the library and its programs. Mark your calendars for the annual book sale in October to look for these and other titles. You can also visit the library to see the brand new Maker Space on August 12th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA

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