Your Essential Fall Reading List—15 Books That Deliver the Cozy Vibes We Need Right Now

While we’re a few official weeks into fall, I’m writing to you from my very first *actually cozy* day. The temps have dipped below 65, there’s color in the trees, and my craving for hot cider is justified. There’s little I wouldn’t give to experience the autumnal coziness year-round, (when it comes to fall, the “too much of a good thing” adage doesn’t apply). And while some may tell you there’s nothing better than indulging in a summer beach read, my fall reading list has that simple pleasure beat.

Fall exudes coziness—with our desire for all things comfy, wholesome, and warm reaching its peak. It only makes sense that now is the perfect time to plow through your TBR. But with the fall scene set just so, not just any books will do. We want to be scared, soothed, and set in a small town where characters wear turtlenecks and gather for knitting clubs in the local coffee shop. I’m talking about the classics, the horror, and the “no plot, just vibes” novels that make every short, dark day worth the cozy return.

Featured image by Riley Blanks Reed.

Image by Michelle Nash

What books are best to read in the fall?

Every book is an opportunity to enjoy a little escape from the reality of our daily routines. We read to go places we’ve never been, experience contexts we’ve never known, and dive into the relationships and psyches of people entirely unlike our surrounding circle. But during the fall, in particular, it’s natural to gravitate toward books that echo the crisp weather and align with the season’s vibes. With Halloween on its way, horror, thrillers, and psychological fiction reads are perfect spooky material. The start of the school year falls in step with our love of anything academia. And of course, cuffing season is fast approaching, and there’s no better time than the fall get us in the mood—romantic fiction is a must.

With all of that in mind, I curated a fall reading list that offers something for everyone. Whether you take this season to indulge in Literature with a capital “L,” scratch your Hallmark romance itch, or enjoy a little scare, read on—these 15 reads are right up your alley.

Your Fall Reading List: 15 Books to Devour, Stat

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Genre: Autobiographical novel/Psychological fiction

Fun fact: I went to the same college as Sylvia Plath—and actually lived in her same dorm room. My fascination with the author certainly contributed to my English major, and I consider an annual re-read of The Bell Jar part of my continuing education. If you know anything about Sylvia Plath’s story of mental illness, literary fame, and the ultimate tragedy of her life, you’ll think of this as an autobiographical novel. And even if you don’t become a “Plathie,” you’ll still enjoy the fascinating peek into a woman weighed down by her own beautiful mind—as well as the horrific limitations of mid-century mental healthcare.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Genre: Memoir

I devour this book every time I read it—and proceed to encourage everyone to add it to their fall reading list. While the narrative relies on some of the tired tropes of the publishing industry on the cusp of the 2000s, you’ll immediately be mesmerized by the entirely different world Joanna Rakoff stepped into when she took a job as an assistant to the literary agent for J.D. Salinger. It’s a heart-warming and intriguing coming-of-age story in which a young woman discovers her own voice by mimicking that of one of the world’s most famous authors.

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Genre: Psychological Fiction

If you want to cry, then laugh, then cry and laugh again, pick up Meredith, Alone. It was one of my favorite books of last year, and though I plowed through it in December, it’s a perfect fall read. The premise: Meredith hasn’t left her home in three years, but little by little—through the help of friends old and new—she learns to trust the world again. Claire Alexander does an incredible job of slowly teasing out elements of Meredith’s backstory, making it impossible to put down as you dive deeper into this lovable, complicated character.

Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados

Genre: Coming-of-age

One of my favorite books of all time, Happy Hour perfectly epitomizes the TikTok category of “no plot, just vibes” books. Meaning: while the book doesn’t track a clear progression of events, you dive deep into the mesmerizing, desperate world of two young, twenty-something friends—Isabelle and Gala—as they navigate life in New York City through charm, whit, and an unsettling brilliance.

When asked about her thoughts on this categorization, author Marlowe Granados shared with Elle, “When you put it all together, there’s not this traditional structure of rising and falling action, because I’m not interested in that. All the books I love aren’t traditional in that way, and I’m open to exploring non-linear expressions and narratives.”

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Genre: Literary fiction

To be clear: this is a must-add to your fall reading list as is everything else Ottessa Moshfegh has penned. (Eileen and her latest, Lapvona are two more faves.) Immediately upon reading, you’ll discover an entirely different sort of book, where the constraints of prose and plot are quickly bypassed. Set in New York City in 2000 and 2001, My Year of Rest and Relaxation follows the narrator (unnamed) as she seeks to spend a year asleep—induced by a cocktail of medications—to reset her life. What she discovers is a way forward in a world that’s often difficult to bear.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Genre: Literary fiction

If you love anything Sally Rooney, Cleopatra and Frankenstein is a natural progression. Cleo and Frank dive headfirst into a seemingly mismatched pairing. (She, a beautiful, young painter, and he, twenty years her senior, leading a life of excess and wealth.) Their romance impulsively turns to marriage, dissolving quickly into a complex and challenging relationship. As the reader, you want desperately for each to experience some semblance of happiness—and at the end, you discover just how complex true satisfaction in life can be.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Genre: Novel

If you love food and are fascinated by the behind-the-scenes hustle of New York City kitchens, Sweetbitter is your go-to fall read. The novel tracks Tess, a twenty-two-year-old as she learns the rules of the road—and life—working at a celebrated New York restaurant. The book is full of glitz and glam but reveals the elite industry’s truths of chaos and grime. But the beyond being an exposé of the restaurant industry itself, Sweetbitter perfectly encapsulates a young woman’s pursuit of place and identity in an oftentimes unforgiving world.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Genre: Horror fiction

Behind (almost) every great Netflix series is the book that inspired it. Many agree that Shirley Jackson is the queen of horror—she’s the author of “The Lottery,” and clearly deserving of the moniker. The Haunting of Hill House takes the reader through a perfectly executed example of the haunted house story, and it even earned Stephen King’s seal of approval. Paranormal activity, psychological suspense—it’s fall horror perfection.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Genre: Coming-of-age story

My book club read this in September and it’s one of the few books that’s earned the group’s unanimous appreciation. (Read all the way to the end of this fall reading list, and you’ll know how deep my Ann Patchett obsession runs.) In Tom Lake, her latest release, Patchett’s ability to convey the endurance of love is coupled with meditations on the ties between family members and how these bonds shape the outcomes of our lives.

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Genre: Psychological thriller and mystery

There’s no time better than the cool, crisp nights of fall to cuddle up with a thriller. The House Across the Lake? An all-time best for the season Though I read it when it initially came out last June, I have no shame in plowing through it (again) this fall. Starting with the expected plot of the protagonist quitting the city for the calming (and eerily quiet) woods, this novel offers a compelling departure in its many twists and turns.

Casey Fletcher (said protagonist who settles in Vermont), befriends the glamorous couple across the lake. But when the wife mysteriously disappears, what initially looked like a perfect marriage suddenly becomes the center of a psychologically suspenseful and constantly shifting plot.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Genre: Gothic fiction

Though you may have left this book behind in college, I can’t stress it enough: pick it back up immediately. While it was written nearly 200 years ago and the nuances of life in the landed gentry are no longer common knowledge, the romance and very human emotions put on display are always relevant. If you really want to dive deep into the Gothic romances this fall, follow it up with Jane Eyre.

All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Genre: Crime fiction and mystery

Though this was a new release last year, I didn’t get my hands on it until a week ago. And… I finished it in a day. With Ashley Flowers’ extensive experience investigating crimes both solved and cold, she displays an incredible ability to build a suspenseful, shocking narrative—even in her debut novel.

A journalist who’s moved back to her hometown, Margot Davies becomes obsessed with the infamous murder of January Jacobs. She goes to extensive lengths to find the solve the case—and bring the killer to justice. Along the way, she discovers that many of the townspeople she thought she knew are hiding twisted, chilling secrets.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Literary fiction

There’s no better time than autumn to re-read the classics. Though I’m quick to recommend Fitzgerald’s other novels before The Great Gatsby, nothing encapsulates the season more than the book’s standout line: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” I’ll admit, every time I turn back to this book, I’m always in awe at its ability to capture the sense of loss and longing that can exist between people who desperately seek happiness in all the wrong places.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Genre: Romance novel

IMO—this is Jane Austen at her best. I don’t need to tell you that she’s the queen of romance and putting women on their rightful pedestal. Persuasion gives readers an opportunity to indulge in a second-chance love. It’s witty (of course) and convoluted in a way that only Austen can make enjoyable. (Who’s married to who, again?) For anyone new to Jane Austen, you can certainly start with Pride & Prejudice, but I’d say Persuasion is the right choice.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Genre: Historical fiction

I listened to this in the car with my mom on a drive across the country, and though I loved Tom Hanks’ narration, it’s even more enjoyable to curl up with on my couch. It’s dark and haunting, but displays the power of a sibling bond to overcome all odds. Forced into the same poverty their parents escaped, Danny and Maeve struggle to leave behind their past even as they experience inklings of hope and success. The Dutch House looks at the complexities that can exist between families, and ultimately asks if love is really what’s most important.

For Luminous Skin, These 9 Foundations Deliver

Is foundation dead? It seems that foundation as we used to know it—the non-negotiable, full-coverage end all, be all of makeup looks—might be. Gen Z favors beauty trends like no-makeup makeup or the #CleanLook, which feature skin tints and dabs of concealer in lieu of a full face of foundation. And as more people embrace skin neutrality (accepting your skin for all its blemishes, age spots, and fine lines), there’s less of a need to cover up all of our imperfections.

Thankfully, beauty brands are experimenting with new, better foundation options. Enter: stick foundation. Like a bronzer or any favored multi-stick, this tube application is smooth and satisfying. The best stick foundations in the beauty aisles are inspiring more shoppers to try these convenient, cake-free coverage options.

Intrigued? Thought so. Read on to discover what to look for in a stick foundation and where to find the best ones.

Featured image from our interview with Alicia Yoon by Winnie Au.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Stick Foundations in 2023

There’s much to consider when choosing a foundation. First: how it looks. Think shade range, texture, coverage, and buildability. You might also consider ingredients. Is the product clean and nontoxic? Does it include hydrating ingredients or SPF?

To discover the best stick foundations, I polled some of our editors who are already believers themselves. And of course, I scoured through reviews and store aisles to try some myself.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Image by Michelle Nash

I use this foundation stick in “Buff.” It has buildable coverage, non-toxic ingredients, and it’s super lightweight. I love it—hands down, it’s my favorite. — Brandy, Motherhood Contributor

What We Love:

  • Buildable, long-lasting coverage
  • Non-toxic formulation
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Hydrating

What We Don’t:

  • Honestly? It’s hard to find fault with a multi-stick that comes in a range of shades, is formulated with skin-loving ingredients, and doesn’t irritate even acne-prone skin. It’s an easy yes!

I’ll admit, I was influenced to buy this product from an Instagram ad that touted effortless, summer makeup. But here’s the kicker: it actually delivered. I’ve been packing this in my toiletries bag for travel and it’s so easy to swipe on and use a makeup brush to blend for sheer color that reduces pores and adds a little glow. My one caveat is that skin needs to be very well moisturized before applying to avoid a cakey or patchy texture. — Camille, Editor-in-Chief

What We Love:

  • Easy for on-the-go application
  • Provides sheer glow and color

What We Don’t:

  • Can wear cakey if skin isn’t properly moisturized
  • Limited shade range

Best Hydrating: Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick

Milk Makeup is known for its skincare-focused approach to makeup, and the brand’s best stick foundation is further proof that it delivers on its mission. This ultra-hydrating formula has an easy-to-apply texture and flexible finish. Though it doesn’t shine in its buildability, this stick foundation still provided a ton of coverage in just a few swipes without feeling heavy.

What We Love:

  • Hydrating
  • Easy to apply
  • Offers plenty of coverage with minimal application

What We Don’t:

  • Not as buildable as other picks

While I have the Merit pick in my medicine cabinet, I keep Thread’s affordable option with me at all times. As in, I have three of the sticks for my purse, toiletries bag, and yes—even in my car. But no, my obsession doesn’t end there. I also have it in two shades—one to match my skin color for coverage, another two shades darker for contouring, and another one shade lighter as a highlighter. I love that it wears with a soft matte texture, giving me both the dewy, hydrated look I crave while also covering up any pores. At this price point, it’s a solid pick that truly does it all. My only gripe is that, compared to the Merit stick, I have to reapply a couple of times throughout the day.

What We Love:

  • Comes in a range of shades
  • Soft matte application
  • Affordable price point

What We Don’t:

  • Has to be touched up or reapplied every few hours

The hype is real for this stick foundation. From the first swipe, I loved the texture. It goes on like silk, and only needed a few swipes to give me a light but effective coverage. I was impressed by how seamlessly it blended into my skin. Plus, as a lover of clean beauty, the thoughtful formula impressed me with its combination of nourishing ingredients and lightweight oils.

What We Love:

  • Silky texture
  • Light but effective coverage
  • Blends seamlessly into skin

What We Don’t:

  • Our priciest pick, but worth the splurge

Fenty Beauty is known for changing the game with its shade range, pushing the beauty industry at large to match its expansive and inclusive collection since its launch. And it’s famed for the compliment-garnering efficacy of its products. This stick foundation provides smooth, seamless coverage that lasts all day.

What We Love:

  • Inclusive shade range
  • Smooth, seamless coverage
  • Long-lasting

What We Don’t:

You get a ton of bang for your buck with this drugstore stick foundation. It delivers long-lasting, all-day coverage with a smooth texture and a multi-dimensional finish.

What We Love:

  • Long-lasting coverage
  • Affordable price point
  • Flawless semi-matte finish

What We Don’t:

  • It can wear a little sticky and we don’t love it for warm (re: sweaty) days

While you’ll still want to layer a higher SPF under this, having sun protection in your foundation makes it convenient to throw in your bag and touch up throughout the day. Its blurring finish gives you a more even complexion while also shrinking the look of pores and uneven texture.

What We Love:

  • Provides a seamless, poreless finish
  • Perfect color match for a range of shades
  • Built-in SPF and antioxidant protection

What We Don’t:

  • Product can smear after a couple of hours

For a filter-like finish, this blur stick is like slapping on Instagram’s Paris filter. It gives you a smoother texture and a more even complexion without caking or creasing.

What We Love:

  • No caking or creasing
  • Smooth finish

What We Don’t:

  • Only available in three shades