30 Books That Made Our Fall Reading Lists

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While sitting down with a good book is a year-round activity, there's something about the fall season that makes it an extra-special moment. Combine crisp weather with a cup of tea or coffee (or insert favorite fall beverage here), a comfy place to sit, and a book, and that makes for a pretty nice and cozy weekend afternoon.

I don't think I'm alone in saying we need books now more than ever. Maybe you want something to escape the stress of whatever crazy thing is going on in the world right now. Or maybe you need a good book to stop from endlessly scrolling through social media. Or, since there's not much to do while we're social distancing and quarantining, a novel can help pass the time. And perhaps, you want to just get more educated about a hot topic. Well, a book can certainly get you there.

30 Fall Book Recommendations from Our Editors



If you are looking for any or all of the above, we have some recommendations for you. I asked my colleagues at THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear to send me what they're reading or what's on their TBR list. Here are some of their picks and some new releases out this season below. Happy cozy reading times!

"Whether or not you're already a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, you'll love this 21st century update to his classic creepy tales. An anthology of 13 stories reimagined by top YA authors, this complication includes updates like 'The Cask of Amontillado' meets Carnival in Brooklyn and 'The Fall of the House of Usher' viewed through a StreetEasy lens. Trust me. Even if you're curled up under your favorite weighted blanket, you're guaranteed to get chills." — Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor

"James Baldwin wrote this pair of letters on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Publishing this work in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin passionately implores readers to think critically about the lasting legacy of racism in this country—not dissimilar to the work of Black Lives Matter activists and writers responding to the injustices befalling Black people today. It is a weird time to be Black in America. This year has really forced me to confront terrifying, infuriating, and depressing truths about what it means to be a Black American woman, but Baldwin's words make things a bit clearer. And though The Fire Next Time's subject matter is heavy and difficult to get through, my copy editor heart is absolutely enamored with the evocative and poetic prose and Baldwin's ability to make a sentence go on for miles effortlessly." — Jaree Campbell, Copy Editor

"Like the title states, this powerful collection of essays felt very much like my own personal reckoning as an Asian American and the feelings and experiences that I've had. Through her vulnerable and, at times, gut-wrenching narrative, Hong begins to unpack the complexities of her identity through her own memories as well as through historical events. I knew I was going to resonate with this book, but I just didn't anticipate having such a visceral knee-jerk reaction to so much of it. If 2020 is the year of realizing things, of challenging our systems, and of expanding your mind on issues of race, gender, and beyond, then I highly suggest adding this book to your reading list next." — Candice Aman, Social Media Editor

"To stay sane during these unprecedented times, I've been surrounding myself with uplifting friends, following inspirational leaders on social, and reading personal-growth books. The first one I read was a book called The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein, a motivational speaker and positivity coach. I was instantly hooked on her simple approach to all things manifestation, spirituality, and happiness—this book completely changed my perspective and shifted my mental state for the better." — Michaela Bushkin, Senior Fashion Editor, Branded Content

"I also just purchased one of Bernstein's other books, Super Attractor, and can't wait to dive in." — Bushkin

"If you're a fan of dystopian fiction novels, I highly recommend adding Yoko Ogawa's book to your list. The novel was published by the Japanese award-winning female author in 1994 and was only recently published in English in 2019. Similar to George Orwell's 1984, this book will shake you to your core and make you reassess what it means to be a bystander to the rise of totalitarian regimes." — Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor

"I'm a huge fan of edge-of-your-seat thrillers. If you're looking to add one to your list, I would highly suggest Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. The book is somewhat similar to The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. It centers around Maggie Holt and the death of her father. Upon his death, she receives the deed to her childhood house. She doesn't remember much about the house other than how her family fled late in the night and that her father went on to sell a book detailing the events that led to them leaving the house. Although the entire world knows the story of her childhood and the hauntings that led to her family fleeing in the middle of the night, she cannot remember anything. Despite her mother's advice to never set foot in the home again, Holt accepts the deed and sets out to prove her father's story wrong." — Samantha Pouls, Audience Development Coordinator

"This is definitely a heavy read—but, I think, so necessary. The story line follows two half sisters in 18th century Ghana and follows their family's lives through generations till it leads to modern time. It takes a deep dive into how racism, colonialism, and slavery have effects on families that can spread through a family's lineage." — Yusra Siddiqui, Assistant Market Editor

"I bought this book over the summer thinking it would be the perfect beach or pool read, but because of social distancing, I only made it to the pool twice and both times didn't read much! Now, I'm really looking forward to picking this book up and losing myself in this deliciously luxe world. I loved the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy because it was so salacious and satirical and featured a world that is so far from my real life. I'm banking on this novel having the same escapism vibes. This book features similar filthy rich characters, but in different locales like Italy and East Hampton." — Sarah Yang, Managing Editor

This new release explores race, class, and parenthood. The book starts with a white family who escapes New York City for a relaxing vacation in a home in a remote area of Long Island with very little internet and cell phone service. Their vacation changes when the homeowners, an older Black couple, tell the family that a blackout has swept the city. Can both families trust each other? You'll have to read to find out.

If you follow the Humans of New York account and have ugly cried over some of those stories, you're going to want to grab this book and a box of tissues. The creator of the Instagram account, Brandon Stanton, compiled a list of touching stories that showcase people from different countries and perspectives.

"I've already beat my normal record of how many books I finish per year this year, but I'm still looking forward to cracking open a few more spines—like Angela Davis's famous work, Women, Race & Class. The longtime abolitionist and activist's work is something everyone should be reading, as it's still relevant today." — Fox-Suliaman

If you've already read Homegoing, you'll want to put Yaa Gyasi's follow-up on your TBR list. Transcendent Kingdom follows the lives of a Ghanian family in Alabama that has had to face depression, addiction, and grief.

"A few months ago, I read Rupi Kaur's two other poetry collections back-to-back when I was experiencing some depression because of quarantine loneliness and a breakup. It was like therapy for me and gifted me with a fresher, different perspective on my situation. Every one of her poems causes you to do some soul-searching and introspection, something that I don't think a lot of us do regularly. I'm so looking forward to reading her third collection when it comes out in November and comparing how I felt a few months ago to how I feel then and thinking about how I've evolved during this past year." — Yang

In her follow-up to The Girls, Emma Cline presents a short-story collection that looks at what happens when ordinary life gets turned upside down. The stories explore power dynamics in families and relationships. For example, one story is about an absentee father picking up his son from boarding school after a shocking act of violence, while another story follows a nanny to a celebrity couple who is hiding out after a tabloid scandal.

"Confession: I already finished this book. Written by my former Entertainment Weekly colleague and current Cosmopolitan editor, Jessica Goodman, I preordered this YA novel, devoured it as soon as it came out in August, and have already put it back on my fall reading list. It's Gossip Girl meets The Secret History, sprinkled with hints of Euphoria. If that doesn't excite you enough to press purchase, consider this: Sydney Sweeney and Halsey are set to star in the upcoming television adaptation, which is bound to be a must-watch." — Elovitz

A Girl Is a Body of Water is a coming-of-age story set in 1970s Uganda when Idi Amin was president. Described as a feminist epic, the novel follows a 13-year-old raised by the women in her village and whose mother is alive but not in the picture. Throughout the book, readers see how she comes to terms with feelings of abandonment and her place in the world as a girl and woman.

"Obviously, this isn't a book you would normally curl up with—although if you did, I wouldn't judge—but you'll definitely want to open it up in your kitchen. I've made so many of Ina Garten's recipes and watched many episodes of Barefoot Contessa, so I'm so excited to try out her new recipes, especially because some are just perfect for cozy times, like cheddar and chutney grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato bisque and cheesy chicken enchiladas." — Yang

With a lot of twists and intrigue, this coming-of-age-novel follows Ivy Lin, a Chinese teenage girl of an immigrant family living in Boston. She starts stealing and develops an obsessive crush on a wealthy classmate. After being sent back to China because of her misbehavior, she returns back to Boston years later and becomes involved with her teenage crush. Needless to say, all of her ghosts come back to haunt her, and she is forced to confront her past while dealing with reconciling both Chinese and American cultures.

"In an unexpected series of events, I moved to L.A. from Texas right before the pandemic hit, and being isolated in an unfamiliar place has been… strange, to say the least. But the time alone and the distance from all the homies have inspired me to do some self-reflection about what I am giving to and taking from my relationships. In All About Love, Bell Hooks challenges the way we collectively define, receive, and give love in all of our relationships—romantic or otherwise. I'll admit I did feel personally attacked by her sharp criticism of how most of us deny ourselves the experience of true, honest love. However, now that we're all working a little harder to maintain our relationships and spending more time sitting with our thoughts, her work provides an excellent framework for reimagining what love can be for us in this moment and beyond. Highly recommend." — Campbell

This one is for those who love crime and suspenseful novels. When it starts with someone buying an old house in an idyllic village, you know you're in for a wild ride. The protagonist, Cal Hooper, is a retired cop who gets dragged into a missing person case and starts to realize that all isn't what it seems in his quiet new town.

"If you're dying to be low-key terrified, this novel by horror master Shirley Jackson is guaranteed to do the trick. Admittedly, I binge-watched the Netflix adaptation last year and have been too scared to pick up the original text until now. After learning more about Jackson through Shirley, the summer 2020 movie starring Elisabeth Moss, and listening to her short story The Lottery as an audiobook, I became even more enchanted by the twisted tales from this mid-century author who published six novels, two memoirs, and a nonfiction book in her brief lifetime." — Elovitz

"I'm currently reading this sequel to American Royals. If you don't know about the first book, imagine if instead of George Washington becoming president he became the king of America instead. Like the first book, the sequel follows the lives of his (fictional) younger descendants in the 21st century. There's romance, scandal, and a little bit of politics. Dare I say it's Gossip Girl meets The Crown?" — Yang

Megan Rapinoe stans should preorder her memoir, which comes out November 10. In the book, she reflects on her upbringing in a conservative small town, her journey as an athlete, and her work as an activist. It's sure to be inspiring.

"I'm an avid watcher of rom-coms, because sometimes you just need a very fictional and magical ending, okay? This book was a perfect modern story line for my romantic heart, so if you're looking for a light but happy read, this is the one for you." — Siddiqui

There's no question that burnout is real. This new book examines the topic—how and why millennials became the burnout generation through different perspectives and lenses. It's required reading for not just millennials, but for everyone who works with them.

"Vampires? Witches? Travel through the ages? These are all things that appeal to me, especially during this time of year. If you're seeking a three-book immersion into a new world of magic, history, and star-crossed romance (obviously), this series is truly captivating. Luckily, the entire trilogy is available on Kindle, so this alternate universe is basically in the palm of your hands." — Elovitz

"I love reading feminist theory, and Bell Hooks's series of essays is, by far, one of the best books I've read. Rather than falling into the tropes of the second-wave feminist ideologies around men, this book assesses how women and men equally uphold the patriarchy and how the job to dismantle the systems of oppression will require both men and women to join in the fight. Whether you read this book for you or share it with the men in your life, it will fundamentally change the way you see the world and yourself." — Fox-Suliaman

"For some reason, this classic novel was never on any of my high school reading lists, and I never read it in my leisure time. But since the new adaptation with Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas is coming to Netflix in October, I'm determined to read it before I watch the movie. From the book description and trailer, I'm excited for the romance, intrigue, and a little bit of spookiness (which is perfect for the season)." — Yang

Sometimes, you just need a little bit of humor mixed with some "aha!" moments of introspection. Allie Brosh's follow-up to her best seller Hyperbole and a Half delivers. Through illustrated essays, she offers up personal stories from her childhood and experiences with loneliness, depression, and grief and provides commentary on modern life.

Next up: "Me" Time Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Yourself—Here's How to Prioritize It