Let’s make Autumn Reading a thing.

Let’s make Autumn Reading a thing.

Summer reading lists abound, but one doesn’t encounter many reading lists for fall.

We’re changing that today.

I love summer reading, but I’m itching for a change of season. This fall reading list is the perfect antidote to the breezy reads of summer.

If summer is for fun and romance, fall is for coming-of-age and back-to-school. Summer is for optimism; fall is for melancholy and nostalgia. And if summer is for the hot new bestsellers, fall is for the classics with staying power.

Grab a cup of tea, a good book from this autumn reading list, and get ready to cozy up with a good book.

COMING OF AGE NOVELS

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Author:
An eccentric English family struggles to make ends meet in a tumbledown castle during the 1930s. We hear the story through 17-year-old Cassandra’s diary: she’s a remarkable narrator, open and witty and wise for her years. Replete with love, magic, writer’s block, and bear costumes. More info →
A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel

A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel

Author:
Irving is a masterful storyteller, and has a knack for drawing compelling characters. This novel, which gently addresses heavy themes of fate and faith, is widely believed to be his finest. Read it and see why it’s on so many readers’ desert island lists. (My own copy is on my nightstand right now, poised for a re-reading.) More info →
The Age of Miracles: A Novel

The Age of Miracles: A Novel

This YA novel is a little bit science fiction, a little bit coming-of-age. After years of watching the earth for signs of distress, the danger comes in a form no one expects: the rotation of the earth begins to slow, wreaking havoc. 11-year-old Julia is forced to deal with the Slowing plus typical adolescent drama in this haunting novel. More info →
Emily of New Moon

Emily of New Moon

Author:
The Anne books feel like spring to me, but Montgomery’s 3-book series about young Emily Starr belongs to autumn. Montgomery wrote this series a bit later in while. While still sweet and whimsical, they are decidedly darker than the Anne novels. Read them in order. More info →

CAMPUS NOVELS

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

This is Sayers’ tenth Lord Peter novel, her third featuring Harriet Vane, and undoubtedly one of her finest. (They needn’t be read in order.) When Ms. Vane returns to Oxford for her college’s reunion (the “gaudy” of the title), the festive mood on campus is threatened by an alarming outbreak of murderous threats. If you love this, go back and read all the Lord Peter mysteries, beginning with Whose Body? More info →
The Secret Place

The Secret Place

Author:
French’s 5th and latest installment in her Dublin Murder Squad series is set at a girls’ boarding school, where a boy had been found murdered, a year ago. The case had gone cold, but when a new clue emerges, two detectives are sent in to investigate. The Likeness, my favorite book in the series, also takes place on campus. Not for the faint of heart, for language and content. More info →
Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety

Author:
Stegner forges a compelling story out of the lives of 4 ordinary people, who first come together at the University of Wisconsin Madison. There’s no way to describe this gorgeous novel that doesn’t make it sound dead boring. Don’t read about it; just read it. Superb writing, gentle pacing, and an adroit examination of friendship, love, and marriage. This is one to read again and again. More info →
Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter Series

Author:
Orphaned Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is until he turns 11 and receives his invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which is exactly like any other British boarding school, but for the subject matter. The whole series is attuned to the rhythms of the school year. The audiobook versions, narrated by Jim Dale, are spectacular. More info →

CLASSICS

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Gothic romance, mystery, and psychological thriller all rolled into one. If you never read it in high school, fall is the perfect time to pick up this creepy classic. If you were forced to read it back then, give it another try: you’ll enjoy it much more the second time around. One of literature’s greatest heroines. More info →
Persuasion

Persuasion

Author:
Pride and Prejudice should be read in the spring; Emma in the summer. But Persuasion is for fall. This the last novel Austen completed before her death, and it’s darker and more serious in tone than her earlier works. With its themes of love, regret, and fidelity, this is my favorite Austen novel—at least some of the time. But always in autumn. More info →
Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Author:
This groundbreaking classic was downright scandalous in its day—and it hasn’t lost much of its shock value in the intervening 160+ years. Heathcliff is every bit as much the abominable scoundrel now as he was then, and the English moors are every bit as creepy. Read it once, and decide whether you love it or hate it. (And if you do both, you’re in good company.) More info →
Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited

Author:
This sweeping novel set in Britain between the world wars chronicles the Flyte family’s unraveling—along with the rest of Britain’s aristocracy—as viewed through the wistful eyes of lieutenant Charles Ryder. Drenched in themes of love, loss, and grace. Recommended reading for Downton Abbey fans. More info →

WISTFUL

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Author:
“Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Niequist’s poignant second essay collection has “autumn” written all over it. More info →
All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

Author:
The heartbreaking and beautiful memoir from a recovering alcoholic, a Franciscan priest, and a beloved author of The Ragamuffin Gospel. Heartbreaking and beautiful. Honest, humble, and moving. Such a good read, but grab your tissues. Add Audible narration for $3.99. More info →
The Cartographer of No Man’s Land: A Novel

The Cartographer of No Man’s Land: A Novel

Author:
When his wife’s beloved brother goes missing in World War I, a Nova Scotian artist seizes the opportunity to join the Canadian forces as a cartographer, serving safely behind the lines in London. But when he gets to Europe, he’s instead sent directly into battle—and that’s just the beginning of his dangerous and confusing circumstances. A thought-provoking debut. More info →
All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Author:
The characters Doerr focuses on in this war novel are fascinating and altogether unexpected. The book’s setting couldn’t be lovelier: much of the action takes place in Saint-Malo, France, a unique walled port city on the English Channel. Haunting story, beautiful prose, and destined for many best-of-the-year lists. More info →

What are YOU reading this autumn?

Your autumn reading list | Modern Mrs Darcy

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179 comments

  1. Erin says:

    You are so right that certain books are best read — like many albums are best listened to — in autumn.

    A couple weeks ago, I was delighted to wake up and find The Secret Place had been quietly delivered to my Kindle (I forgot I’d pre-ordered it). So, I’m making my way through that, and it does have a delightfully autumnal feel, though a distinctly different tone from her prior novels.

    I’m also (still) picking my way through The Luminaries. I do think that, although I read it on the cusp of fall and winter last year, The Goldfinch has a lot of autumn in it, especially the parts that take place in New York.

  2. LOVE this Anne! (As usual, book list posts are THE.BEST!!) 🙂 Between this post and Tsh’s post about her reading while traveling this year, my book list is happily growing my leaps and bounds!
    I don’t know if in the myriad of comments someone said this same thing here, but I think you should do an AUTUMN LIST LINKUP for us to share our fellow lists! If you don’t, I’d love to host one! 🙂 (And credit you with this post idea FIRST.).
    Also really enjoyed your podcast with Kat at How They Blog. I’m working on starting a podcast myself, and I’d love to have you as a guest! (I just have to get the technical side of things into gear–I’m terrible at that!)
    Great list, thanks Anne!

    • Anne says:

      Ooooh, a TBR linkup sounds delightful. And hit me up any time for podcast guesting. I’m happy to let someone else tend to the technical side of things. 🙂

    • Ginger says:

      Oh! I’m super intrigued by the idea of reading while traveling. Could you provide the link to that post?

      I’ve spent my life following the rule that when I’m at home, I read new books; and when I’m traveling, I allow rereads (the loose premise being unfamiliar environment, familiar book and vice versa).

      But after I discovered Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust to Go, I’ve been jotting down a whole list of books that I want to read IN a place (like Kim by Kipling in India or the creepy In Cold Blood by Capote in Kansas).

  3. Lindsey says:

    What a great comment section! I would add My Side of the Mountain to a fall reading list. It was a childhood favorite of mine which cracks me up now, because what book could be more appealing to an INTJ? Adventure, living off the land, using your wits to survive, being alone (save for a falcon), and extreme independence?! Apparently my personality type was set a very young age. 🙂

    I think you should do a series matching books to Myers Briggs types. You have a bunch of readers who could definitely help you crowdsource ideas!

  4. Teresa Simmons says:

    I flagged this post for a revisit because I just knew the comments would be chock full of ideas, and they are! My book club chose Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for October, so that’s at the top of my list. But I’ve now bumped the Emily of New Moon books, Brideshead Revisited (a reread), and something – anything – by Wendell Berry to top spots as well. I loved the two Wallace Stegner books that you mentioned and always mean to recommend those to people but somehow forget. Thanks for the reminder! And Outlander? I finished it the other day, after much persuasion by multiple friends who claim it as their favorite book EVER, but the brutality left me cold. A while back, someone here mentioned All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. I’m not sure which season it would best complement – maybe all! – but it was a surprisingly funny read with delightful characterization. Love your great booklists, Anne!

    • Anne says:

      I still need to read Agatha Christie, so I’m jotting down that title. I’m so glad you’ll be reading Wendell Berry soon. (Jayber Crow is my personal favorite.) And I haven’t read All Creatures Great and Small, but it’s sitting on my nightstand right now.

      Happy reading! You have so many good books in your queue; I’m excited for you to get to them. 🙂

  5. Donna H. says:

    I did not read through all of the comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating…but for those of you looking for a great “classic” coming of age novel, Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt is one of my top 3 picks. So bittersweet and wonderfully written. Makes me think of fall, too.

  6. I feel like such a book fraud and a fake lover of Anne! I had no idea LM Montgomery had another series! Ugh, I am so ashamed. I just purchased the Emily series for my nook… super cheap at $2.99. That feels like disrespect to LM.

  7. Sandy says:

    I finished reading A Prayer for Owen Meany 10 minutes ago. Oh man. I am tempted to turn right back to page one and start over. A tremendously powerful novel. There were parts that had me laughing hysterically and parts that gripped my heart. Thank you for this recommendation.

  8. Rebecca Putna says:

    My birthday is in October and several of my authors have books coming out that month. Named of the Dragon by Susannah Kearsley, The Lake House by Kate Morton, Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, a guilty pleasure. A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George. Happy Birthday to me! Now I am reading Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rising Strong by Brene Brown,and for pure fun Falling for You by Jill Mansell and P.S. I Still Love you but Jenny Han.

  9. Debra G says:

    I’m never totally sure what I’m going to be reading, but I think I’ll try a couple of the books on this list. I just put on hold at the library I Capture the Castle and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Right now I’m reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, James and the Giant Peach (read aloud for my boys), A Charlotte Mason Education, Becoming a Contagious Christian, and Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China. As you can see, I need some fiction in there. I’m usually never without a fiction book.

  10. Whitney Cant says:

    I’m planning on reading Emma by Jane Austen for the first time. I’m realizing as I go through my mid-20s that I’m in the perfect place mentally and emotionally to read Austen’s works and absorb them completely.

  11. Leslie says:

    I am reading Oprah’s bookclub pick and eagerly anticipating Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography! I’ve also been wanting to read “Night Circus” though that doesn’t scream fall to me.

  12. I read The Light Between Oceans this summer and uff-da. That’s a hard read! I need to read May B since my daughter did and loved it. Jane Eyre–an fantastic classic. Right now I am going to be starting ‘A. Lincoln’ It’s for the 2016 Reading Challenge!

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