Put down your bucket hats and cancel your Calippos people, autumn has entered the chat.
As the September nights draw in, trading those balmy evenings outside for cosy plans indoors with the heating on max and a book in hand is the seasonal quiet we all need after a summer of non-stop peopling.
Spending rainy weekends curled up with the crisp pages of a new book, a slab of (don’t say it, don’t say it…) banana bread and tea on tap makes for the very best kind of R&R. If, like us, you want to truly embrace the art of doing nothing and live out the rest of 2021 looking like a toe in a blanket, then we suggest stockpiling a load of book supplies and sticking your phone on do not disturb mode.
From haunting new thrillers to atmospheric plots and feel-good fiction, tuck yourself under a pile of blankets and disappear into a happy reading rabbit hole until spring rolls around again.
Happy hibernating, our bookish friends!
1. A Slow Burning Fire by Paula Hawkins
For those of you who like a shadowy thriller, this scorching new release from Paula Hawkins, author of the global phenomenon The Girl on the Train, ought to grab your attention from the very first page.
Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.
Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?
Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.
Look what you started.
2. Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
Twins Jeanie and Julius are in their early 50s and still living with their mother Dot in rural isolation and poverty. Their old cottage is a sanctuary against the outside world, a place where they bond over folk music and grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need to survive.
But when Dot dies suddenly, their world is turned upside down as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about who they are at stake.
A beautifully written, moody and melancholy read that was just made for a rainy day, a plate of crumpets and a pumpkin spice latte, in our humble opinion.
3. Fault Lines by Emily Itami
A startlingly honest love story and a daring exploration of modern relationships, motherhood and marriage. Emily Itami is one to watch!
Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether it would be more fun to throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband or hanging up laundry.
Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, a voice, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives – and in the end, we can choose only one.
4. Cackle by Rachel Harrison
This empowering novel is a darkly funny, late coming-of-age story of a millennial woman named Annie who has always put other people’s needs above her own, until she moves to a small town and befriends a mysterious woman rumoured to be a witch…
The beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie wants Annie to stop apologising and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the townsfolk seem…a little afraid of her. And like, okay. There are some things. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power…but she couldn’t be…could she?
Discover your inner witch and wait patiently for Disney to spin it into a movie. Fingers crossed!
5. Nice Girls by Catherine Dang
True crime addicts and armchair detectives will gobble up this razor-sharp debut in one sitting. Full of twists and turns, small town drama, edge-of-your-seat suspense and insightful social commentary, it just might be the book of the season.
What did you do?
Mary used to be such a nice girl. She was the resident whiz kid of Liberty Lake, Minnesota-the quiet, chubby teen with the scholarship to an Ivy League school. But three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back-a thinner, cynical, restless failure who was kicked out of Cornell at the beginning of her senior year and won’t tell anyone why. Taking a job at the local grocery store, Mary tries to make sense of her life’s sharp downward spiral.
Then beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand goes missing. A rising social media star, Olivia is admired by everyone in Liberty Lake-except Mary. Once Olivia’s best friend, Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hides a wilful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the town obsesses over perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary wonders if her disappearance might be tied to another missing person: nineteen-year-old DeMaria Jackson, whose case has been widely dismissed as a runaway.
Who is the real Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary pries at the cracks in the careful facades surrounding the two missing girls, old wounds will bleed fresh and force her to confront a horrible truth.
Maybe there are no nice girls, after all.
6. The Magpie Society: Two for Joy by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch
The second instalment of The Magpie Society series sees Audrey and Ivy in the middle of another mystery when a friend disappears in suspicious circumstances.
Their only clue is a mysterious card left by the enigmatic Magpie Society. With time running out and the police baffled, Audrey and Ivy must delve deeper than ever into the dark secrets that their school is hiding.
But someone is playing a deadly game. And to beat them, Audrey and Ivy have to start rewriting the rules…
7. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is back with a creepy new thriller just in time for Halloween and you’re going to want to drop all your fancy dress plans to be with it.
From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.
But now Joy Delaney has disappeared, and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?
8. Unbound: My Story of Liberation and The Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke
If Oprah says a book is searing, powerful and needed, you listen to her and you read it. From the founder and activist behind the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke’s debut memoir explores her own journey to saying those infinitely powerful words. No doubt her soul-baring story and commitment to making a difference will be a source of healing and hope for other survivors.
9. No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield
Coming this November, this blade-sharp novel will shock even the savviest reader. With echoes of Gone Girl, this is a story of privilege, identity, and cunning, as two devious women from opposite worlds discover the dangers of coveting someone else’s life.
On a beautiful October morning in rural Maine, a homicide investigator from the state police pulls into the hard-luck town of Copper Falls. The local junkyard is burning, and the town pariah Lizzie Oullette is dead—with her husband, Dwayne, nowhere to be found.
As scandal ripples through the community, Detective Ian Bird’s inquiries unexpectedly lead him away from small-town Maine to a swank city townhouse several hours south. Adrienne Richards, blonde and fabulous social media influencer and wife of a disgraced billionaire, had been renting Lizzie’s tiny lake house as a country getaway…even though Copper Falls is anything but a resort town.
As Adrienne’s connection to the case becomes clear, so too does her connection to Lizzie, who narrates their story from beyond the grave. Each woman is desperately lonely in her own way, and they navigate a relationship that cuts across class boundaries: transactional, complicated, and, finally, deadly.
10. Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore
Looking for something to fill the deep Bridgerton void? (season 2, make haste will you), this swoon-worthy romance is this season’s incomparable diamond. Just make sure you crack the window a little because we all know what that regency lot are like.
London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life:
- Acclaim as an artist
- A noble cause
- Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman
Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions . . .
When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting his political plans in motion. Driven by an old desire for revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.
But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realises she could win everything – as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.
11. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
For fans of books about books and the power of reading, this one will strike a chord. A love letter to libraries and storytelling, this is the heart-warming read we all seek out at this time of year. Prepare to savour every word and blub into your blankets.
Tissues at the ready, here’s the blurb!
When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.
From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.
And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.
12. Freckles by Cecilia Ahern
From the bestselling author of PS I Love You comes this life affirming novel about self-discovery, friendships and family. If you’re searching for a feel-good palate cleanser amidst all the eerie thrillers this fall, Freckles is guaranteed to hit you right in the feels.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.
But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.
Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.
13. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Torrey Peters navigates taboos around gender, sex and relationships in this fearless and compulsively readable debut about the lives of three transgender and cisgender women and an unexpected pregnancy that forces them to confront their deepest desires…
Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together?
A modern classic everyone should add to their TBR pile!
14. Snowflake by Louise Nealon
For fans of Sally Rooney, this coming-of-age tale set in rural Ireland is the perfect gritty read to see you through the colder months. With themes of mental health, grief and navigating adulthood, it’s the kind of book you wish was 200 pages longer.
Eighteen-year-old Debbie White lives on a dairy farm with her mother, Maeve, and her uncle, Billy. Billy sleeps out in a caravan in the garden with a bottle of whiskey and the stars overhead for company. Maeve spends her days recording her dreams, which she believes to be prophecies.
This world is Debbie’s normal, but she is about to step into life as a student at Trinity College in Dublin. As she navigates between sophisticated new friends and the family bubble, things begin to unravel. Maeve’s eccentricity tilts into something darker, while Billy’s drinking gets worse.
Debbie struggles to cope with the weirdest, most difficult parts of herself, her family and her small life. But the fierce love of the White family is never in doubt, and Debbie discovers that even the oddest of families are places of safety.
15. The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman
Leave it to Heather M. Herrman to deliver the Halloween read of all Halloween reads.
This twisty feminist YA thriller tells the story of orphaned 17-year-old Molly Green, whose best friend Kitty dies in mysterious circumstances. With no relations that she knows of, someone claiming to be Molly’s aunt – also known as the mysterious Corpse Queen – requests she comes to live with her in Philadelphia. It’s here, Molly discovers the secret of her aunt’s wealth and quickly becomes entangled in the lucrative business of robbing graves to sell the bodies to a medical school. A deliciously dark, ominous, macabre read perfect for fall.
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