By Arianna Kyriacou
The season of fall screams all things cozy: pumpkins, blankets, too-hot coffee and, of course, books. I don’t know if it’s the Rory Gilmore stan in me, but when a single autumn leaf hits the ground, I begin to crave the feeling of thick paper in my hands like nothing else on this earth.
I’ve done my fair share of reading throughout the year, but there’s just something about bundling up in the cool weather with a book in hand, carrying it around through the sleeves of a worn sweater and getting rain droplets on the cover. Sitting in parks, hands clutching a softcover while kids scream over who gets to be the next zombie in their game. Pressing the cover to your chest on the subway because it was just that good.
Here are some books that are sure to fill you with all the warm feelings this fall—coming from someone who is far too concerned about their yearly Goodreads goal.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
TW: addiction, mental illness, abuse
Heart Berries is the loveliest memoir. It’s slim—I finished it in two sittings—but it packs a punch. Mailhot writes beautiful prose about her experience as an Indigenous woman studying in a white-dominated world, while opening up about mental health and failed relationships. At its core, it’s a story about Indigenous women, addiction, mental health, family and love. I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I read it. Mailhot is a fierce poetess and a force to be reckoned with.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
You may have heard of Ng’s other novel, Little Fires Everywhere, which was placed on ‘Hot Reads’ tables in virtually every bookstore. Recently, the book got its own Hulu show—for good reason. The novel’s predecessor, Everything I Never Told You, is just as good. It follows the Lees, a Chinese-American family, as they try and solve the murder of their daughter and sister Lydia in 1970s small-town Ohio. It has the chilling elements of a thriller, but at its core is a story about race and identity. Ng’s writing is gorgeous and as an Asian woman herself, she writes an #OwnVoices novel based on the racism and discrimination she has faced through her own life.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This was a weird one. If you’re like me and spend too much time in the depths of Tumblr and TikTok, you may have already explored the aesthetic of “dark academia.” Think trench coats and pretentious literature featuring old university campuses; this book has all of that. It follows a group of odd but clever misfits studying at a prestigious New England college who all learn under an eccentric classics professor. Imagine plotting murder with your best friends while drinking whiskey from antique crystal in a cold apartment. That is what this book feels like and I loved it.
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
I can’t lie and say that I never have the urge to read a young adult novel and experience all the coming-of-age angst they entail. We Are the Ants was everything I could have ever asked for. It’s definitely a bit quirky—the main character has the chance to either save the world or destroy it using his knowledge of the future which was given to him by aliens. But this story is also about a queer teenager named Henry who navigates his sexuality and romantic and familial relationships. It was beautiful. I’ve never read anything quite like it. It made me laugh, it made me think and it made me cry a little too. It’s the perfect book to pick up if you want something accessible that is going to make you ask questions about your own life.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
TW: violence and drug abuse
Since Halloween just passed, I had to throw in something a little chilling. This book genuinely made me uncomfortable. From the renowned author of Gone Girl, Flynn’s Sharp Objects follows a reporter named Camille as she investigates two murders in her hometown (and then things get really fucking weird.) Camille must unpack her psychological past and survive her bizarre home dynamic in order to solve the case. I don’t want to say too much, because I think going into this book without any information is the best way to read it.
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
TW: sexual assault
I purposely saved the best book for last. The Agony of Bun O’Keefe turned me into a shivering, sobbing mess. Even thinking about it makes me want to cry. It follows a 14-year-old girl in 1980s Newfoundland who runs away from home and is taken in by a cast of young characters. This novel is definitely out of the ordinary, but in the best way possible. Smith weaves together a strong and cohesive story that explores a variety of important topics including sexual assault, identity and mental illness. This is a severely underrated novel—I urge you to give it a chance.