It’s officially Autumn here in Florida, which means continuing to sweat in 90+ degree weather while you decorate for Halloween and drink (iced) Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. Fall brings with it lots of fun activities, like pumpkin carving, baking, fall festivals, hay rides, and actively keeping yourself from listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving (or is that just me?). The start of Fall is also the start of the football season and the holiday season – what’s not to love?
However, the whirlwind of the holidays and cooler weather can also bring stress as people begin budgeting for the holidays and planning parties and family time. My favorite way to enjoy Fall and combat stress at the same time? Reading! While there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea on an Autumn night, reading also has a lot of health benefits that you can enjoy throughout the Fall season: research conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex showed that reading may actually be the most effective way to overcome stress and wind down, beating out favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea, and even taking a walk. It only took six minutes of reading for participants to see significant improvement in both muscle tension and heart rate! According to research, people who read regularly for pleasure report lower levels of stress and depression, higher levels of self-esteem, and greater ability to cope with difficult situations than non-readers. Reading for pleasure has also been shown to reduce feelings of loneliness in adults and increase ability to prioritize and make decisions. Reap these benefits of reading with our Fall Reading List picks below!
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
If you’re looking to imbue a little magic into your Autumn, this book is the way to do it. Imaginative, adventurous, and gripping, this book will have you turning pages into the night. A Darker Shade of Magic tells the story of Kell, one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell officially serves the royal family of Red London, traveling and carrying correspondence between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in Grey London – the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of Fall and the holidays we forget to sit back and take stock of the good things in our lives. Take a journey towards thankfulness with Gratitude by Oliver Sacks. In January 2015, Sacks, a renowned neurologist, was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and he shared this news in a New York Times essay that inspired readers all over the world: “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude…. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Gratitude consists of four essays that originally appeared in The New York Times, accompanied by a foreword that describes the occasion of each chapter. The foreword is written by Billy Hayes, Oliver Sacks’s partner, and Kate Edgar, his long time collaborator. Maybe try giving this one a read around Thanksgiving!
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The nostalgia that I associate with Autumn always has me reaching for an old favorite to re-read. If you’re looking for a classic to read this Fall, I highly suggest you reach for The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, whether you’ve never read it or have read it a thousand times. This book (actually a play script) has stuck around through the decades for a good reason – it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious! This is one of the few books that actually makes me laugh out loud, and the characters’ hi-jinks and cases of mistaken identities will have you flying through the pages. It tells the story of Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax, who are both in love with the same mythical suitor named Earnest. Jack Worthing, pretending to be Earnest, has wooed Gewndolen while his friend Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the women fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” fight to claim their beloveds, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!
Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I read this book expecting a light, fun, young-adult love story, and instead got a heart-wrenching, whip-smart, perfect, intense love story with social justice aspects thrown in that made me laugh and cry in equal measure (I don’t suggest you read this on public transportation – learn from my mistakes). The Sun is Also a Star tells the story of the day Natasha and Daniel met, fell in love, and were forced to separate. Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts, not fate or destiny, and who is twelve hours from being deported with the rest of her family to Jamaica. Daniel is a poet and a dreamer who believes in love at first sight, but as a first generation American born to Korean immigrants, he is expected to be the perfect son, marry the perfect Korean girl, and go to college to be a doctor. When they meet on a crowded New York City street, they’re doomed from the start. Although this book does focus on the love story, it also tackles some big topics like interracial relationships, immigration law, mental health, and racism.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
If you’re the type to want to throw a little science into your Fall, this is the book for you. What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
Happy reading! What else is on your Fall Reading List?