What does fall feel like? My suggestion: falling leaves, warmer coats and knitted scarves for walks in the park, rich oranges and reds, witchy vibes, and pumpkin spice lattes in cozy cafes. And, of course, lots of time for reading.
Here in Denmark, autumn is all about enjoying time to hygge sig, or get cozy with a warm blanket, soft lighting, hot drinks, and comforting sweet treats. In Scotland, the equivalent is to coorie in from the cold. Whatever the colder days of autumn mean to you, there are so many good books to retreat into that feel like fall.
For fall 2022, here’s what I’m reading (and re-reading) for cozy time to relax and unwind with a good autumnal book.
The best books to read in a cozy cafe this autumn
1. Still Life by Louise Penny
Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series oozes cozy fall vibes. Still Life, the first book, is the comfiest murder mystery you will probably ever read, set in October in Quebec with families gathering for Thanksgiving, characters sitting by the fire as night falls, and friends meeting for meals at the local bistro.
At least on the surface, life is incredibly idyllic in the village of Three Pines, but long-buried secrets are starting to reappear. Autumn is the perfect time to uncover them in this cozy book that’s best read with a hot tea and a crumbly pastry.
“Peter swept aside Yogi Tea and Harmony Herbal Blend, though he hesitated a second over the chamomile. …. But no. Violent death demanded Earl Grey.”Still Life by Louise Penny
2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”, writes Anne in this classic feel-good book that’s perfect for fall reading. Anne of Green Gables is the beloved heartwarming tale of Anne Shirley, a precocious Canadian orphan who’s adopted by a brother and sister who are initially adamant about sending her back – but soon change their mind.
Read (or re-read) it this fall to explore the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, finding a place she can belong, and stepping into herself.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Written in beautifully rich and bewitching prose, The Night Circus is one of the best books for witchy vibes to enjoy around Halloween. It manages to be both cozy and creepy, set in a circus in which Celia and Marco, two young magicians (and unfortunately for them, star-crossed lovers), are locked in magical combat that must end in death. Autumn is the best time to fall into this spellbinding fantasy world.
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Every other post, thread, and comment about the best books for fall seems to mention The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I’ve already included it in my best books for winter post, so I was going to be non-conformist and choose Tartt’s later novel, The Goldfinch. But alas, The Secret History has more fall vibes. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat.
It’s the best book you can read for dark academia vibes, centered around a group of isolated classic students at an elite New England college. If you want to nerd over the book as you read it, I’ve compiled a list of the 30+ books mentioned in The Secret History.
“Even now I remember those pictures, like pictures in a storybook one loved as a child. Radiant meadows, mountains vaporous in the trembling distance; leaves ankle-deep on a gusty autumn road; bonfires and fog in the valleys; cellos, dark window-panes, snow.”The Secret History by Donna Tartt
5. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
In this enchanting novel, we meet the Waverley family; curious and endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina.
Claire Waverley is known for the dishes she makes with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets to the pansies that make children thoughtful. Although Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, fled Bascom the moment she could, she now suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own. In this captivating book, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down and the sisters are left to deal with their common legacy.
6. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman’s books are some of the best you can choose for cozy Halloween vibes. In this beloved witchy classic, the Owens family confronts the curses of life and love that remain centuries after Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man in 1620. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, Susanna knows that her three children are just as dangerously unique.
The Rules of Magic is actually the second in the Practical Magic series, but it’s perfect to read as a standalone – and most readers actually enjoy it better than Book 1 (Practical Magic). This is the Owens’ story as they uncover family secrets, discover their strengths, and begin to understand who they really are.
7. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
In this richly inventive novel, Deborah Harkness draws on her expertise as a historian of science and medicine to create a novel steeped in magical realism and age-old questions about what it is that makes us who we are. This autumn, fall into the story of a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
This is Book 1 of 4 in the All Souls series, Harkness’s beloved collection of books that follow the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch who is the perfect character to meet this autumn.
8. The October Country by Ray Bradbury
“That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…” Ray Bradbury is the quintessential autumn author, especially here in The October Country.
This collection of fall-themed fantasy stories offers a stunning display of Bradbury’s fascination with the dark and brilliant realms of the occult and macabre. Read it on a crisp fall morning and watch Bradbury bring autumn to life.
9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue back in summer, but if I were to reread it, I’d choose autumn instead. Not only is it a book about magic (and the devil is a main character), but it’s also full of cozy bookshop vibes. As she’s thrown through time in a world where no one will ever remember her, Addie falls in love with the only person who really sees her: the kind and intriguing owner of a bookshop who has a secret of his own.
10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I listened to The Ocean at the End of the Lane as an audiobook on Libby earlier this year. Each time I think back to it, I imagine autumn days in rural Sussex in England, which is where I grew up and the book is also set. This is one of Neil Gaiman’s most delicate yet terrifying books, centered on a mysterious farm at the end of the road, the unremembered past, and children who are wise beyond their years.
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
- I'm also the author of Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps, a book about my time living alone by the mountains.
- If you love books, are feeling a little lost right now, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, join The Sanctuary, my seven-day course to rebalance your life.