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 fall books to retreat into that feel like autumn.
For 2023, read on for the cozy books I’ll be reading (and re-reading) for time to relax and unwind this fall.
The best fall books to read in a cozy cafe this autumn
Still Life by Louise Penny
“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
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 cup of tea and a crumbly pastry.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”, shares 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) the book this fall to explore the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, finding a place she can belong, and stepping into herself.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Written in beautifully rich and bewitching prose, The Night Circus is one of the best cozy fall books with witchy vibes to enjoy around Halloween.
This bestseller 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.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
“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
Every other post, thread, and comment about the best books for fall seems to mention The Secret History by Donna Tartt. 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. For more like this, here’s my collection of the best books like The Secret History.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
In this enchanting novel that’s perfect for your fall reading list, 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.
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 many readers actually enjoy it more 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.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
In this richly inventive novel that’s one of the best autumn books, Deborah Harkness draws on her expertise as a historian of science and medicine. The result? A novel steeped in magical realism and age-old questions about what it is that makes us who we are.
A Discovery of Witches is Book 1 of 4 in the All Souls series, Harkness’s beloved collection of books that follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch who is the perfect character to meet this autumn.
Fall into the story of a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
The Hedge Witch by Cari Thomas
If you love cozy fantasy books, a perfect choice for fall is The Hedge Witch. In this novella set in Cari Thomas’s enchanting Threadneedle universe, Rowan is visiting her aunt Winne (who happens to be a hedge witch) to get back to nature and hone her skills in the Welsh countryside.
However, Rowan soon realises that she might not get the R&R she was hoping for – hedges are a serious business, it turns out.
Not only that, but mysterious events are causing panic around the town and non-magical folk are starting to take notice. Is her beloved magical world about to be exposed, or can it remain hidden?
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.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 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.
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 last fall and loved it. 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.
North Child by Edith Pattou
There’s something magical about this time of year. To embrace this, read North Child. Based on the traditional Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”, it’s the spellbinding story of Rose, a North Child who sets off on a wintry quest to follow her destiny, accompanied by an enormous white bear.
Although North Child is technically a children’s book for readers 12+, it’ll inspire readers of all ages with its lyrical writing, bewitching setting, and epic story. It’s full of magic, wonder, and fairy tale vibes for quiet autumn evenings as the weather turns colder.
For more of the best cozy fall books for 2023, you might also like my collections of…
- Cozy books to snuggle up with on a quiet evening in
- Books that feel like Gilmore Girls for cozy reading
- Wholesome comfort reads for a hug from a book
- The best books with Studio Ghibli vibes
- The best cozy fantasy books
Or, for something a little more frightening for Halloween, head over to our collection of the best horror books of all time. Enjoy!