"The time for leaf-crunching, jumper-snuggling, and book-devouring is here"Unsplash/John Mark Smith

If you’re a bookworm like me, then you have to admit that autumn is objectively the best season for reading. When it arrives, its presence marked by the flaming colours in the trees, and that slight chill in the early morning that pricks at the skin, the time for leaf-crunching, jumper-snuggling, and book-devouring is here. There’s something about the season that is inherently atmospheric: some books just seem amplified somehow by the misty mornings and pale, shimmering light of the afternoon. And let’s not forget the added cosiness of the wind and rain raging outside the window while you’re nestled by the fire, a steaming mug of tea in one hand and a chunky book in the other. To get you started this autumn, I’ve put together a list of books that are ideal for reading on those dark and drizzly evenings.

Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë

Brontë’s classic is one of my absolute favourites and simply had to be included in this list. The heartrending romance between Jane and Rochester is of course central to the narrative, but Brontë infuses it with gothic elements – the misty moors, the cold and echoing rooms of Thornfield, the spectral appearances of Bertha – that are all intensified by reading it on a blustery autumn afternoon. Even in the very opening of the novel, a young Jane Eyre is confined to the house by the driving November rain, where she attempts to escape her loveless family in the pages of a book. This bleak image is so illustrative of Jane’s entire childhood, it makes her journey towards independence and discovery of love on equal terms all the more fulfilling.

“Some books just seem amplified somehow by the misty mornings and pale, shimmering light of the afternoon”

Rebecca (1938) by Daphne DuMaurier

Frankly, there are some books that just feel wasted if you don’t read them as Halloween approaches, and DuMaurier’s Rebecca is one. Continuing with the gothic theme, Rebecca tells the story of an unnamed young woman who is beguiled by the charms of widower Maxim de Winter, and impetuously accepts his sudden proposal of marriage. However, when she reaches his country estate, she finds that his former wife still continues to cast a sinister shadow over the household – one that seeps through the cracks in the floorboards and threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

Autumn (2016) by Ali Smith

Autumn is the first book in Ali Smith’s ‘Seasonal Quartet’. Although the title makes it an obvious choice for this listicle, Smith really does capture the essence of the season through an inventive exploration of art, politics, and the passing of time. Set amidst a fractured society in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the book follows the unlikely friendship of Elisabeth, an art historian, and Daniel, the old man who used to be her neighbour. It’s a very fluid work, moving freely between past and present, dream and reality, emphasising the transience of this life, like the fleeting autumnal colours in the trees.

Small Favors (2021) by Erin A. Craig


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Erin A. Craig’s latest book is a chilling, slow-burn horror story set in the small town of Amity Falls. Bordered by an almost impenetrable forest, the laws of the elders keep the town safe from the horrors that lie beyond, in a narrative slightly reminiscent of The Village. Yet, as autumn deepens into a bleak winter – and a supply party fails to return – cold, hunger, and ancient rumours cause fissures to emerge in what had previously been a tight-knit community. Craig’s prose is intensely atmospheric and wonderfully lyrical; Small Favors often reads like a claustrophobic fairytale, ideal for raising goosebumps on a dark autumn night.

Dissolution (2003) by C. J. Sansom

To finish off this reading list, I’ve included the first book in C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake series. Dissolution is a richly woven tale of murder and mystery, set during the political turbulence of the sixteenth century, as Henry VIII orders the dissolution of the monasteries. When Cromwell’s commissioner is found dead in the monastery of Scarnsea, he sends Matthew Shardlake to investigate the murder. What follows is an intensely gripping crime novel, with a remarkable depth of historical detail, and Sansom’s icy portrayal of a Tudor winter will have you reaching for the nearest thick fleece blanket.