Perfect autumn reads, and where to read them

I think it’s safe to say that, objectively, fall is the best season. So, it’s going to be an excellent week since Wednesday, Sept. 22, is the autumnal equinox.

With the golden leaves and brisk temperatures, nature creates the perfect atmosphere for the so-called “dark academia” aesthetic during these next few months. This calls for reading outside in a comfortable sweater with a hot drink and a good book.

Boston has many prime reading spots, and I have enjoyed reading a book in many of them. Here is a list of some of my favorite books that remind me of my favorite season and where I think is the best spot to read them:

A shelf of books. Ilana shares her favorite books to read this fall and the best spots around Boston to get cozy and enjoy each one. SHANNON DAMIANO/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt (1992)

If you are looking to immerse yourself in the aforementioned dark academia vibes, look no further than this thriller that excellently examines wealth, academia and morality.

It’s best to go into this book as I did — with absolutely no idea of the plot. However, in the interest of intrigue, I will give a vague introduction.“The Secret History” follows an eclectic group of students at a fictional liberal arts college in Vermont who study Greek under a morally dubious professor. This cult-like group of academics slip out of the grasp of morality as they fall deeper into their study of ancient traditions and commit unthinkable acts.

With vivid descriptions of the beautiful New England scenery and chilling plot lines, this book demands to be read in October.

I recommend reading Tartt’s novel in the Boston Public Library to truly immerse yourself in the feeling of rich academia. The domed ceilings and dim natural lighting create the feeling that you are one of the students in the book — although I do not recommend imitating them in any way — and lends itself to an incredible reading experience.

“Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney (2017)

Any list of book recommendations from me would not be complete without one of Rooney’s insightful and deeply emotional novels. I am currently almost done with her new book “Beautiful World, Where are You” and am loving every sentence of it.

For me, “Conversations with Friends” is the perfect book to make you feel like the main character in the fall landscape. 

Rooney’s book follows two women in college navigating life and love in Dublin. Their mistakes, successes and heartbreaks provide a relatable lens into the messiness of youth, friendships and relationships. 

A fun bonus to reading this now: the TV adaptation is currently in production, and you should always read the book first. 

This book should be read curled up in an armchair near a window while wearing your comfiest socks and drinking a steaming cup of tea. A common room on campus or your living room off campus will do nicely. Caffè Nero is also a perfect place to read “Conversations with Friends.” Make sure you’re somewhere that you are comfortable feeling all of the feelings because this book will sneak up on you in that way.

Tissues may also be necessary, but I will let you determine that based on your usual level of attachment to the struggles of fictional characters.

“Writers & Lovers” by Lily King (2020)

This was a recent read for me, but it instantly became a favorite. Also, it’s a relatively easy read with a pretty happy ending — a rarity for the books I tend to read. 

An aspiring writer navigates grief, love, financial struggle and coming to terms with her past while still trying to move forward. Her story winds its way to a happy ending, if not the exact one she envisioned for herself at the beginning of the novel.

One of my favorite parts of this novel, aside from King’s masterful writing, is that it takes place in Boston. I can picture the protagonist walking around the city and see her surroundings with perfect clarity. 

Because it’s set in Boston, this book has to be read in a seminal Boston spot: Boston Common. Bring a blanket, sit under a big tree and people watch when you need to take a break from reading — which you may not need with this book. I tore through it in a day.

King’s novel is the perfect fall romance with its bittersweet introspection that seems to go hand in hand with the cooling temperatures and shorter days as the season progresses.

Whether or not you take my recommendations for what to read and where, I think that fall is the perfect reading season. With my profound love for books, maybe that’s why I like this season so much. 

Happy fall and happy reading!

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