For most of us who reside in Southern California, a true fall season is practically nonexistent. We might yearn for chilly weather and more colorful trees, but the forecast is usually on the warmer side. Although we might not get a true autumnal experience, we can always turn to books to get into the fall spirit! 

Book Rec #1:  The Secret History” by Donna Tartt 

Starting off strong, this cult classic has grown in popularity with the rise of the online dark academia aesthetic. Narrator Richard Papin and five other clever students study classics at a liberal arts college. Under the guidance of their professor, they test the bounds of morality and eventually end up murdering one of their classmates (no, that’s not a spoiler, as the book opens up with the details surrounding the death). Told in two parts, this book is beautifully written with dense and intentional prose. It will have you gripped with how insane and intricate the minds of the characters and plot are. This book encapsulates feelings of loneliness and obsession while simultaneously revealing the dangers of academic elitism. 

Book Rec #2: “These Violent Delights” by Chloe Gong

Transport yourself to 1920s Shanghai in this young adult fantasy retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” with forbidden love, family feuds and invisible monsters. We are introduced to two rival families and their teenage heirs, Juliette and Roma, as they fight against and alongside each other against a mysterious illness that threatens both of them in the divided city. For those who enjoy history, the worldbuilding and historical detail that went into writing about colonial China is fascinating, showing the intensive research done on Gong’s part. Besides the adventures and romance, its underlying themes are inherently anti-imperialist as we see the conditions brought on by the settlement of Europeans. The best part is that if you need more of this book after finishing, you can pick up the sequel, “These Violent Ends.” 

Book Rec #3: “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix 

If you need a light horror novel, look no further than this one. Our female protagonist, Patricia, is like any other Southern housewife. Except, when she’s not cooking and cleaning, she runs a horror book club with other women. Things go haywire when a mysterious man moves into their town: missing children and mysterious deaths lead Patricia to suspect he is a vampire coming after everybody. Although this is a story about the bravery of mothers willing to do anything to protect their children, it was also hilarious seeing the ways she and another character would work together to take down a single vampire in their small suburban town. 

Book Rec #4: “Pumpkin Heads” by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks 

Lastly, I have to recommend this comic that literally takes place on a pumpkin patch on Halloween night — because who doesn’t like a wholesome young adult graphic novel? Our best friend duo in the story come together every September to work on their community pumpkin patch, but this year is their last and they plan on enjoying it to the fullest. This is a cute fall story involving two best friends trying out all the fall festivities. With its cute illustrations, it will definitely get you in the seasonal mood.