Poetic and Somber Books to Read During Autumn

“For these beings, fall is ever the normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth… Such are the autumn people.” – Ray Bradbury


If you are an autumnal soul like me, you are likely thrilled with the colder months, when the earth wears its brown coat. Autumn brings blankets, candles, hot drinks, and—of course—moody reading material. There is no coziness like the sound of rain pattering on the windows while you are absorbed in the pages of a different world. Here are seven somber books to keep you company during these colder days.


Frankenstein (or The Modern Prometheus) by Mary Shelley

This classic gothic novel inspired by the Romantic Movement is ideal for this eerie season. In its pages you will find sorrow paired with ambition, leading to the creation of a formidable, sapient creature. The lyrical writing is haunting: “There was none among the myriads of men who existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.”


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

A desire for eternal youth guides this book. An artist, Basil Hallward, is fascinated with Dorian’s beauty and paints his portrait. After spending time with Lord Henry Wotton, a hedonistic aristocrat, Dorian becomes obsessed. As the plot unfolds, you, too, become a little obsessed to know its ending.


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Set in England and Transylvania during the 1890s, Dracula emphasizes the fears of Victorian society. The dark ambiences and characters make it a perfect read for the gloomy evenings of autumn.


Aura by Carlos Fuentes

This Mexican narrative is reminiscent of the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Its obscure atmosphere emphasizes the symbiosis between dream and reality.


The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Another book for ancient Greece and gothic admirers, The Secret History is narrated by Richard Papen, one of six students studying at elite Hampden College. Each character is a living tragedy full of flaws. Tartt’s use of language is enthralling, as well as poetic. And beauty, if you dare to ask, “Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian is embedded in history that explores the myth of the vampire. Compelling and spellbound, it is an incredible one to read by candlelight.


The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Purcell’s first novel, The Silent Companions stays with you beyond the last page. The tale takes place in three distinct time periods and each one is a bewitching voyage.


There are many other eerie reads just as delightful as the ones listed above—for example, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. And for even more fall poetry recommendations, check out our roundup of November new releases.