Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
This lovely romance graphic novel follows two high school students, Josiah and Deja, in their final year working at their beloved pumpkin patch in their town before leaving for college. However, instead of working, they end up going on an adventure to search for Josiah’s secret pumpkin patch crush, and for Deja to get a final taste of all the delicious Halloween snacks on offer. The illustrations, in all the classic fall colours, are gorgeous. It's a very cute and lighthearted read for if you are looking for something fun and easy to get you feeling autumnal.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Bunny is great for anyone wanting a new and interesting take on the horror genre.
You may, however, be looking for something more scary and unsettling to get you in the mood for Halloween. Bunny by Mona Awad is the perfect book for the spooky season. The novel follows Samantha Heather Mackey, a woman on the outside of a tight inner circle of unbearable privileged rich women in her creative writing Masters programme at a prestigious university.
Throughout the narrative, she slowly loses control and is drawn into the sickly sweet clique, who call one another Bunny, and the terrifying events that occur from this. Since the book is set in a university, it's a perfect choice for October whilst you still may be settling back into academic life... although it may make you fear the intentions of your fellow coursemates! It is extremely disturbing and gets weirder and weirder as the story progresses. Bunny is great for anyone wanting a new and interesting take on the horror genre.
Anecdotal Evidence by Wendy Cope
You may be more in the mood for some poetry this autumn, in which case Wendy Cope’s Anecdotal Evidence may be the collection for you. As she writes kindly and generously, it is a perfect cosy book to read at home while the weather grows cold outside. Many poems in the collection are about Cope’s imagined ideas of Shakespeare’s life and her experiences in school and university, so it is perfect if you want a dark academia feeling in your book to read by the old campus buildings. Her work is beautiful and simple while having a wonderful rhyme and rhythm to it, which will make you want to keep reading poem after poem. Her work is best read out loud.
The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
I hate autumn. It’s a liminal slush between summer’s late nights and Christmas, a waiting room. To me, autumnal books aren’t spooky or red-leafy; they’re bricks you flick through while checking your watch for Christmas to come along. Therefore, The Count of Monte Cristo is the quintessential autumnal read — a fun brick to pass a long wait. Penguin’s edition is around 1300 pages of Dantès revenge-adventures, with more disguises than Lear and more multi-decade grudges than middle-aged Facebook. Délicieux!
The Count of Monte Cristo is the quintessential autumnal read — a fun brick to pass a long wait.
Dumas’s (spoiler-free) final words encapsulate what autumn is for pumpkin-Grinches like me: “all human wisdom is contained in these two words, 'wait and hope’.” Consider adding Monte Cristo to your reading list, whether to add variety to your spooky seasonal shelf or merely to attain the nirvanic disappointment of hearing a brilliant book end with calling “wait and hope” two words.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
There are two very obvious reasons Donna Tartt's The Secret History immediately came into mind whilst I was thinking about what I'd go for as my autumnal read. Firstly, I read it during autumn. Secondly, it's predominantly set in autumn; the novel opens at the start of the academic year and is full of lush autumnal imagery:
“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.”
It's a perfect book to launch into to accompany the changing season; dark and mysterious, a slightly creepy vibe perfect for the approach to Halloween. So yeah, maybe this is a bit of an obvious one to go for but nonetheless, if you're asking me for an autumnal recommendation, The Secret History is what you're getting given.
Half Bad by Sally Green
Half Bad is the first book in a brilliant young adult fantasy series about witches. In the world of the book, there are white witches, supposedly good and moral, and black witches, believed to be dark and evil. However, Nathan lies in the middle, with his mother being a white witch and his father a black witch. Half Bad follows Nathan as he attempts to avoid the forces of the dominant white witches, attempting to imprison him because of his father, and the persecution he suffers growing up as a half-black witch. It has beautiful imagery of nature, especially the scenes set in Wales, as Nathan loves the freedom of being outside and alone, away from urban environments. The witches and the cold rainy descriptions of Britain give it a very autumnal feel, and it's a great book for anyone wanting to dip into a fantasy that isn’t too intimidating.