I don't know about you but I love autumn. The crisp, cool weather, the cosy knitted jumpers, Halloween (the best holiday of the year!), and - of course - curling up under a blanket with a book and a cup of tea and reading to the sound of drizzle outside. Autumn really is the best season for reading. And now that it's finally here, I thought I'd put myself through the pain and torture of deciding which books I'm going to read this season. It wasn't easy but I've narrowed my TBR down to ten titles and I am so excited to read them all.
So without further ado...
The Top 10 Books on my Autumn TBR*
(*in no particular order, I might add - I'm not a complete psychopath!)
1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?
Okay, I admit it. The only reason I bought this book is because it has a beautiful cover (and a gorgeous design under the dust jacket!) But in my defence, it sounds like just my cup of tea: a gothic mystery filled with forbidden secrets and a sprinkling of the supernatural. In my experience, when a publisher puts this much effort into making a book look beautiful, it's usually because it's a bloody good book. And a quick glance at the reviews seems to confirm this. Readers are recommending going in blind with this one so that's exactly what I plan to do. I can't wait!
2. The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson
Magic awaits, all you have to do is believe... When thirteen-year-old Olia steps through a magical doorway, she discovers another land. A land tangled by magic, where hope is lost, and a scheming wizard holds all the power. Soon Olia learns that she is destined to save this land, but with time running out and her new friends and family in danger, she must search for the magic within herself - to save everything and everyone she loves.
Sophie Anderson is fast becoming one of my favourite children's authors. The House with Chicken Legs was a truly enchanting debut and its follow-up, The Girl Who Speaks Bear was one of the most lyrical and magical children's books I've ever read. The bar has been set high for The Castle With Tangled Magic, though I have every expectation that Book #3 will be just as wondrous as its predecessors. Anderson is an expert storyteller with an admirable gift for weaving traditional folk stories and fairy tales into wonderfully original worlds with richly-defined characters. This is a book I've been waiting for all year and I can't tell you how excited I am to finally read it.
3. The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg
Aaron and Tillie don't know each other, but they are both struggling with life. They arrive at a New York bridge at the same time, intending to jump. At that moment in time, there are four things that could happen: Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn't. Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn't. They both jump. Neither of them jumps. Or maybe all four things happen... A beautiful and honest story to break, and then mend, the heart.
I love books that make me cry and this seems like a book that packs an emotional punch. I loved Openly Straight when I first read it so I'm excited to finally read another Bill Konigsberg book. I recently read We Are Okay by Nina LaCour and It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini and this book is giving me similar vibes so I'm quietly optimistic I'm going to like this one. Fingers crossed!
4. Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan
Tamarind never knew her Indian mum, Chinty, who died soon after she was born. So when she arrives at her ancestral home, a huge mansion in the Himalayas surrounded by luxuriant gardens, she's full of questions for her extended family. But instead of answers, she finds an ominous silence – and a trickle of intriguing clues: an abandoned hut, a friendly monkey, a glowing star ring, and a strange girl in the garden who calls herself Ishta. Slowly, Tamarind unravels a mystery at the heart of who she is...
Asha and the Spirit Bird was one of my standout middle grade reads of 2019 and I haven't stopped talking about it since. So when I found out Jasbinder Bilan was writing another book set in the Himalayas I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I first read Asha not long after I got back from my trip to India and I was immediately transported back there; the way Bilan captures the sounds and smells of India is incredible and her writing is simply exquisite. Like Sophie Anderson, Bilan has the impressive ability of taking traditional folk stories and breathing new life into them, creating stories and characters that are so timeless it's like they've been around forever. While this list is in no particular order, Tamarind and the Star of Ishta is definitely nearing the top of my TBR and I just know I'm going to love it.
5. Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time... From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold comes a story of four new customers each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Cafe Funiculi Funicula's time-travelling offer.
Originally written as a play and adapted into a novel (and then subsequently translated into English), Before the Coffee Gets Cold was one of my favourite books of 2019. Despite featuring time-travel, Kawaguchi's novel is more contemporary than sci-fi, examining what it means to be human in a deeply moving collection of intertwined stories. I was certain this book was a standalone and I can vividly recall lamenting over the fact I'd never get to return to Cafe Funiculi Funicula in a sequel, so just imagine my surprise when this turned up in our bookshop delivery a couple of weeks ago! (And signed copies too!) In a way I'm glad I didn't know about its publication as I think I'd have driven myself mad counting down the days until its release! Out of all the books on this list, I think Tales From the Café is the one I'm most excited to read and I can't wait to share my thoughts with you.
If you haven't read Before the Coffee Gets Cold yet, you can check out my spoiler-free review here.
6. What We'll Build by Oliver Jeffers
What shall we build, you and I? I'll build your future and you'll build mine. We'll build a watch to keep our time. A father and daughter set about laying the foundations for their life together. Using their own special tools, they get to work; building memories to cherish, a home to keep them safe and love to keep them warm. From renowned, internationally bestselling picture-book creator and visual artist, Oliver Jeffers, comes this rare and enduring story about a parent's boundless love, life's endless opportunities and all we need to build a together future.
Oliver Jeffers is one of my favourite picture book illustrators and I will buy anything he publishes. An optimistic story about a father and daughter and the future they'll build, this is the kind of story I think we all need in what has been a pretty awful year that shows no signs of relenting just yet. There's a certain magic to picture books that we lose as we grow older and I honestly think that reading picture books as an adult is one of the best mental health resets out there. Jeffers has such an inimitable style and his books burst with warmth and wit so I just know that What We'll Build is going to become a new favourite.
If you're unfamiliar with Oliver Jeffers's works, you can check out my review of one of his more recent (slightly older) illustrated books, The Fate of Fausto here.
7. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
A girl's quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of fantasy, Garth Nix.
All of my bookseller friends are hyped for this book. I've never read anything by Garth Nix but as a left-handed bookseller, I figured this seemed like an appropriate place to start. Also the blurb mentions "magical fighting booksellers" and "the outrageously attractive Merlin"... need I say anything more?
8. Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha
Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV. Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative. Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years. In this absorbing novel, Brazilian author Lucas Rocha unveils the common misconceptions and prejudices that still surround HIV in the twenty-first century, showing how far we've come while shining a light on just how far we have yet to go.
Admittedly, this book was published in June so it doesn't technically count as an autumn release but it's still going on the list as I only bought it recently and I'm determined to read it before winter! I can't remember how I came across this book - I think it was on bookstagram? - but the minute I read the blurb I knew I had to read it. HIV is a topic that's too often brushed under the carpet and this is the first contemporary YA book I've come across that tackles the subject head on. As a gay man, I'm ashamed to admit that I know relatively little about HIV so I'm hopeful that this book will offer a good starting point on the subject. Reviews of the book praise Rocha for destigmatising and educating readers about HIV in a way that's life-affirming and filled with positive messages of community and belonging. I can't wait to read what I'm sure will be an incredibly moving and important book.
9. Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend
A strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious Unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. There are whispers - growing louder every day - that this catastrophe can only be the work of the Wundersmith, Ezra Squall. But inside the walls of Wunsoc, everyone knows there is a new Wundersmith - one who's much closer to home. With Nevermoor in a state of fear and the truth about Morrigan threatening to get out, the city she loves becomes the most perilous place in the world. Morrigan must try to find a cure for the Hollowpox, but it will put her - and everyone in Nevermoor - in more danger than she could have imagined.
I'm currently in the middle of re-reading Nevermoor books #1 and #2 (well, listening on Audible because Gemma Whelan's narration is incredible) and I forgot just how much I love this series. I never read Harry Potter as a kid and I always felt like I missed out on something big, but with Nevermoor I feel like I'm part of something momentous. The series already has a burgeoning fanbase but with a movie in the works and future books planned out I just know this series is going to explode and I can't wait. Jessica Townsend writes beautifully and the way magic is depicted in these stories is nothing short of genius. This is children's literature at its best and I can't tell you how excited I am for Book #3.
10. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
A slow-burn romance with a bad-boy ghost?! Heck yeah, sign me up. Seriously, the hype surrounding this book is insane and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see an #ownvoices trans narrative debut on the NYT bestseller list. I don't know a great deal about Cemetery Boys as it's a US debut that's not made its way over to the UK just yet, but from what I have heard it sounds like exactly the kind of book I'd love and I am so so soooo excited to sink my teeth into it.
And there we have it! The 10 books I'm most excited to read this autumn!
Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know what you plan on reading this autumn in the comments below!