If You Can't Do Horror, Try These 10 Novels That Majorly Channel Fall — And NOT Halloween

By Kerri Jarema

I love pretty much everything that comes with the autumnal season. I love the crisp, cool mornings. The early mist followed by bright cornflower blue skies. I love the gorgeous shades of changing leaves, the pumpkins and flannels, bonfires and warm drinks. And I really love the nights spent under a cozy blanket, reading books. What I don't particularly care for? All the spook. OK, I do enjoy fun Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown, but when it comes to intense horror and heart-stopping true crime? *shudders* It can be hard to escape the scary during the early autumn months, but if you know where to look you can find lots of the fall feels without feeling like you have to check for monsters in your closet every night.

The 11 books below are exactly the sort of thing I love to read during the fall: some are atmospheric reads full of dark woods and misty mornings; others are books with collegiate fall semesters and sweet autumnal romances; and many are books that just give me the same slow, introspective feels that I love to indulge in during the fall, no matter what season they're set in. If you're anything like me and you adore the autumn but hate being creeped out, you're sure to find one or two books on this list that you'll love, no matter what genre you prefer to read.

'Tell The Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt

This striking, atmospheric novel (misty woods, cozy apartments and dark New York nights are the setting) unfolds the story of love, grief, and renewal between the unlikeliest of friends: 14-year-old June and her late uncle's partner, Toby.

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'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell

Nothing says fall like a Rainbow Rowell novel, and Fangirl is perfect for readers who want some rom-com with their autumnal feels. This one follows Cath during her first year of college and all the growing pains that come with it.

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'Goodbye, Vitamin' by Rachel Khong

Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin is an introspective novel in vignettes that details Ruth's move back home after her father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Starting and ending in winter, this is a book to read under the covers in one sitting.

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'The Simplicity of Cider' by Amy E. Reichert

Nothing says fall like a glass of crisp apple cider, am I right? With scenes of a quiet small-towns and a sweeping orchard — plus a sweet romance between fifth generation cider maker Sanna and single dad Isaac — you'll be slipping on a cozy sweater in no time.

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'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng

A slow-moving character portrait, complex family dynamics, insulated small-town politics, and engrossing secrets are all at the center of Celeste Ng's novel, making it a book to lose yourself in on a long, dark night cozied up indoors.

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'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery

This classic YA is basically what fall dreams were made of. Montgomery's gorgeous, atmospheric descriptions of Prince Edward Island and Green Gables during every season (but especially fall) are so immersive you'll feel like you're right next to Anne Shirley on her sweet and funny adventures through misty mornings and golden October sunsets.

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'She Would Be King' by Wayetu Moore

OK, so maybe you don't like "scary" but you still want to infuse your autumn with a little bit of magic. If so, Wayétu Moore's She Would Be King is the book you need. This story of Liberia's formation combines history and fantasy, and is told through three characters who all share unusual powers.

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'American Panda' by Gloria Chao

Gloria Chao's YA novel opens during Mei's fall semester at MIT, and follows her first romance, her parents' expectations, her brother's estrangement from the family, and her own conflicted feelings about who she is and who she wants to be. It's a deep look at culture, legacy, and the true meaning of love.

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'The Essex Serpent' by Sarah Perry

You can't have fall without at least one gothic novel, and The Essex Serpent definitely fits the bill. Set in 1890, it follows Cora, a widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will, the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumors that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned.

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'A Place for Us' by Fatima Farheen Mirza

This quiet multi-generational novel is a moving portrait of what it means to be an American family today, and explores love, identity and belonging through the lens of one Muslim family's reckoning with their past, present and future. It's the definition of a depth-filled, cozy read.

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'American Street' by Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi's novel has all the elements of a perfect fall read: back to school, new romance, complicated family relations and some unexpected magic that might just lead to dark places. Fabiola's journey from Haiti to Detroit is an intense, entrancing book that will surely cast a spell on you.

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