I love pretty much everything about the autumnal season: crisp blue skies in the morning, weekend walks through the changing leaves, cozy evenings in, and all of the fun fall activities and trips. Another thing I love? Themed reading lists. I'll use any excuse to collect a TBR list based on the season, or on a holiday... or, well, on pretty much anything. So when it comes to autumnal themed reading lists, I just can't resist. And when I got to thinking about some of the seasonal things I love the most, fall treats obviously came to mind. From all the different pies to apple-flavored everything, autumn is the beginning of prime baking season.
And everyone's tastes when it comes to these sweets is totally different. Maybe you love your sweets made with fruit and minimal fuss. Maybe you're all about rich, decadent desserts. It's my humble opinion that these tastes can definitely extend into our reading, too. The seven picks below all correspond to a fan-favorite fall treat, and all are atmospheric, emotional and decidedly perfect for hunkering down with during the autumnal months. All you need now is a luxurious sweet treat to bring along with you on your reading sesh.
Do You Love Candy Apples? Try 'My Name Is Leon' by Kit De Waal
What It's About: Leon loves chocolate bars, Saturday morning cartoons, and his beautiful, golden-haired baby brother. But when their mother falls victim to her inner demons, strangers suddenly take Jake away; after all, a white baby is easy to adopt, while a half-black, nine-year-old faces a less certain fate. Vowing to get Jake back by any means necessary, Leon's own journey will carry him through the lives of a doting but ailing foster mother, Maureen; Maureen's cranky sister, Sylvia; a social worker Leon knows only as The Zebra; and a colorful community of local gardeners and West Indian political activists.
Why You'll Like It: My Name is Leon is a mix of Leon's heartwarming observations of the world with the heartwrenching sadness of the realities of being a foster child. Much like your favorite candy apples, you have to bite through the hard layers to get to the sweetness here; but it's totally worth it.
Do You Love Cinnamon Rolls? Try 'Stay With Me' by Ayobami Adebayo
What It's About: Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time—until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine.
Why You'll Like It: Stay With Me has the sort of plot and characters that demand to be unraveled, with beautiful writing that contains both sweet moments of love combined with bitter realities for a story that is both lush and timely.
Do You Love Apple Cider Donuts? Try 'The Simplicity Of Cider' by Amy E. Reichert
What It's About: Cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Wisconsin. Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in a friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
Why You'll Like It: Nothing says fall like apple cider, and this story is the best combination of sweet and easy-to-read with sharp and intriguing underlying plot points that will keep you turning to the pages until the resolution.
Do You Love Salted Caramel Mocha? Try 'Goodbye, Vitamin' by Rachel Khong
What It's About: A few days after Christmas in a small suburb outside of L.A., a pair of pants hang from the trees. They belong to Howard Young, a prominent history professor, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Howard's wife, Annie, summons their daughter, Ruth. Freshly disengaged from her fiancé, 30-year-old Ruth quits her job and arrives home to find her parents' situation worse than she'd realized. Her father is erratically lucid and her mother sees the sources of memory loss in every pot and pan. But as Howard's condition intensifies, the comedy in Ruth's situation takes hold and gently transforming her grief.
Why You'll Like It: Grief transformed through humor, the soft light of memories transformed through reality, new love, old family history... Goodbye, Vitamin in sweetness with some bite, an aftertaste both bitter and hopeful.
Do You Love S'Mores? Try 'Tell The Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt
What It's About: There's only one person who has ever truly understood 14-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. So when he dies of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life — Toby, a friend of her uncle's. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she's not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
Why You'll Like It: The ethereal atmosphere in Tell The Wolves I'm Home sets this book apart, with dark, cold autumnal scenes set partially in and around the forest you can almost smell the bonfires burning in the distance; it's as classically fall as a good old fashioned s'more.
Do You Love Apple Fritters? Try 'Her Body And Other Parties' by Carmen Maria Machado
What It's About: Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. Earthy and otherworldly, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment.
Why You'll Like It: Soft meets hard, sweet meets sour, juicy meets crisp; all of the contradictions of your favorite fall treat make it great. And the same goes for this short story collection: horror meets comedy, fantasy meets real-world, all resulting in a lush and memorable reading experience.
Do You Love Pecan Pie? Try 'Autumn' by Ali Smith
What It's About: Autumn 2016. Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. Who are we? What are we made of?
Why You'll Like It: Ali Smith's prose is as lush and rich as your favorite treat, all the while covered by the hard truths of our times, these things we must wade through; our current political and social climates, the realities of growing old, and what we want our legacies to be.