If the act of reading a book could be represented by a season, that season would be fall. Everything about fall invites the opportunity to warm up with a book, a cozy blanket, and a nice cup of coffee or glass of wine, depending on the time of day.
Like fall, books are about change, and they are a tool to nurture whatever whim you’re on, which can change not only day by day, but hour by hour. This is why I recommend reading multiple books simultaneously.
Here’s what I mean: If you’re hoping to unwind before going to sleep, a lighthearted novel is a good option. If you’re struggling with productivity, an exploration into health or habits would be suitable. The beauty of having multiple books going at once is that you don’t have to think too hard before choosing the one that will suit your present need.
Books are not meant to be dragged through. They are designed to entertain, to teach, to feel in your bones, to feel in your subconscious. And as such, you should feel empowered to vacillate between books to find the one that fits your mood of the moment. Because there is certainly a book for every mood, feeling, vibe, and occasion you could ever desire.
Books are not meant to be dragged through. They are designed to entertain, to teach, to feel in your bones, to feel in your subconscious.
A note about abandoning a book: I am admittedly quite bad at this. I sometimes slough through books hoping that I will find redemption in the end. It doesn’t always work, but I always learn something—even if it’s just that I think a certain author is overrated. But if a book isn’t working for you? I encourage you to drop it. There are so many good books out there and life is too short to read shitty ones.
With that, here are book recommendations for every mood this fall.
With a Tunisian father and Swiss mother, author Suleika Jaouad has always felt a part of two different worlds. But nothing she learned about navigating the nebulous world of different identities prepared her for the changes she’d be forced to make when, at age twenty-two, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
What follows is a story of a fierce young woman who endured debilitating illness and grisly treatments, the lifelong relationships she made while feeling less like herself than ever, and her ability to help others feel less alone through her New York Times column, “Life Interrupted,” which she wrote from her hospital bed. You know she survives because she lives to write this book, but the story reads like a page-turning novel—one I never wanted to put down. Jaouad’s flawless skill of taking us through the trenches with her is matched only by her ability to dig us back out as she finds love and, of course, life. The two kingdoms in which she must learn to coexist are not that of her heritage, but of her illness—the before and after. This is a gorgeous read that will take you down but leave you better off in the end.
Celestial and Roy are in love. They are freshly married and have exciting things on the horizon. But then Roy is put behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, looking at a sentence of twelve years.
This novel is about so much more than an American marriage, though it embodies the institution of marriage in ways I’ve never seen, highlighting the mundane goings-on of a husband and wife, then throwing a wrongful incarceration on top of it. This book is about injustice, about the way love can feel misplaced and misguided, and about how love is more real than anything else.
Author Tayari Jones writes these characters so acutely that the relationships and the struggles within them weigh on you as you experience them. When they’re hurt, you’re hurt. When they’re excited, you’re excited. Many readers will find themselves within this novel by relating either to the struggles of a marriage or the insecurities of dating. And through it all, readers will be exposed to the everyday injustices that plague our country.
A big departure from the deep, thematic books above, this story is not your average romantic comedy, though it is both romantic and comedic. Red, White & Royal Blue is the scandalous love story of two young men who absolutely are not supposed to fall in love, not because they are both men, though that certainly causes some friction, but because they are sons of global leaders—and former rivals.
I found this book so enjoyable because author Casey McQuiston wrote the dialogue as people really speak. The dumb things people say, the jokes they try (and sometimes fail) to make, the awkward encounters—it’s all in here. The characters are lovable, easy to follow, and put on the pages to entertain. If you need something to lighten your mood or to put you into a cozy state before bed, this is your book.
I’m not being hubristic when I say this book changed my life. I first read it several years ago and I still reference it today. The central message is that by investing our energy in fewer things, we can make significant progress in those that matter most. Author Greg McKeown says that if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. What a brilliant, bloodthirsty truth. So much of our lives are directed by the demands and desires of others. But as you’ll learn in this book, it doesn’t need to be this way. We have the ability—and responsibility!—to identify what is most important and to cut out all the rest.
This is one of those books that I think needs to be revisited on an annual basis (kind of like how I think I need to watch The Social Dilemma and What the Health each year to remind myself of my convictions). This is the kind of book I’d stash in my purse and read while waiting for an appointment or with a cup of coffee in the morning.
This dazzling novel is a fictional story based on events from the life of author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather, who served as tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, kept the night watch of a jewel bearings factory, and fought a U.S. senator’s attempt to terminate (actual word used!) the tribe. The story, which takes place in 1950s North Dakota, is dense, covering narratives of multiple characters from various points of view and sharing the true-to-life struggles of Native Americans. It was the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and will undoubtedly be read for generations to come.
This book is not easy to read, nor is the subject matter easy to digest, but it opened my eyes up to a way of life I was previously naïve to. The writing is daring (a couple of paragraphs are told from the point of view of a horse) and beautiful, and had I not just finished it myself, it is a book I would reach for on a cozy night, cuddled up with a blanket and a glass of syrah.
Whatever mood you find yourself in—or want to find yourself in—there is a book for you, and I urge you to reach for it this season. The books above are great places to start, but please abandon a book if it’s not jiving with your mood.
Kolina Cicero is enamored with stories – reading them, writing them, getting lost within them. Other things she loves include yoga, traveling, and taking cooking, Italian, and writing classes. Her first children’s book, Rosie and the Hobby Farm, was published in July 2020.
BY Kolina Cicero - September 29, 2021
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.