The Best Books to Cosy Up With in Autumn

As the evenings get darker and the days get colder, autumn is the perfect time to curl up indoors in the warm with a good book.  Whether you are re-reading an old favourite or discovering a classic of literature for the first time, here's our pick of the best books to cosy up with this autumn.


Emily Brontë "Wuthering Heights"

This tragic tale of star-crossed lovers and poor decisions is perfect for a stormy evening.  From the moment orphaned Heathcliff arrives at remote, desolate Wuthering Heights, he and Cathy have a mystical, inseparable bond.  But class, misunderstanding, anger and pride keep them apart and there is much misery caused by their enduring love.

Whether you read it as a passionate tragic love story or an exploration of anger and evil, this Gothic treat is full of ghosts, intense feelings and broken hearts all set amid the moody dramatic backdrop of the wild Yorkshire Moors where the Brontë sisters lived.

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Charlotte Brontë "Jane Eyre"

Not as intense as her sister's novel, Charlotte's Jane Eyre is perhaps a more sympathetic heroine.  Emerging from her years at an awful boarding school, Jane goes to Thornfield Hall to be a governess to little Adele, the daughter of dashing and brooding Mr Rochester.

Jane and Rochester fall in love but there are endless complications: a cancelled wedding, a mad woman in the attic, and an all-engulfing fire.  Will Jane ever have her happy ending?  It's a real emotional rollercoaster of a book, but the perfect thing to cheer you up with its themes of love, hope and happy endings.  (Just make sure you read Wide Sargasso Sea afterwards for another perspective!)

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Louisa May Alcott "Little Women"

With a new adaptation due in the cinema this Christmas, it's the perfect time to discover Marmee and her girls, or to meet them all over again.  This treat of a book is like the dying embers of a fire, all warm and cosy and you wish it would go on forever.

The wonderful March sisters are all very different but share one main thing: their love for each other, for their life together, their adventures, and their parents.  With wildly different personalities there are many sources of conflict, but great fun and joy along the way.  Laugh, cry and rejoice along with the March girls as they grow and discover their way in the world.  An absolute joy.

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Kazuo Ishiguro "The Remains of the Day"

Put the upstairs-downstairs soap opera of Downton Abbey to one side and make some time for this beautifully written meditation on the human condition, class and regret.

Sad, romantic and even funny at times, The Remains of the Day is the memoir of elderly English butler Stevens as he takes a nostalgic journey reminiscing about the events during his employment at Darlington Hall in the 1920s and '30s is a real treat.  Make some tea and toast and settle down for a treat - just don't forget your napkin.

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Harper Lee "To Kill A Mockingbird"

One of the most evocative recollections of childhood and how it feels to be small, Mockingbird is a modern classic that will stay with you.  From the deep musings of Atticus (you can't help but hear Gregory Peck's voice) to the wild imaginings of feisty tomboy Scout, the voices of this book get in your head.

When Atticus takes it upon himself to prove the innocence of a local black man accused of rape, innocent Scout begins to learn about the harsh realities of the world.  The famous nail-biting court scene is tense, but you'll be on the edge of your seat to learn more about what happens to Scout and her brother Jem as life moves inexorably forward.

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Cesca Major "The Silent Hours"

Oh this book.  Well actually the tragedy that inspired it.  This is a fictionalised version of the story, featuring imagined characters but is very evocative and feels very real.  If you don't know the story of Oradour sur Glane already, don't look it up till after you've read this novel.

Instead get involved in the lives of Adeline, Sebastien and little Tristan in wartime France, and be prepared to cry - a lot.  The narrative is a little jarring at first, veering from one character to another, but bear with it.  It's worth it - and remember your hankies!

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Anna Sewell "Black Beauty"

Autumn is the perfect time to re-read some childhood favourites and Black Beauty is one of those.  The touching tale of a horse, told through his own eyes, this book is about the propensity of humans to both kindness and cruelty and will certainly move you to tears at times.

Black Beauty lives a happy life with his mother and is cared for by loving owners.  But when he changes hands he encounters hard times, awful working conditions and harsh owners.  This allegory teaches lessons about how to treat people with respect, kindness and empathy and will delight adults and children alike.

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Elizabeth Goudge "The Little White Horse"

Another childhood favourite that bears re-reading, The Little White Horse is a cosy fantasy novel features plucky orphans, curious characters, amazing animals, a forbidding manor house and uncle, and a good dose of magic.

With beautiful evocative descriptions, wonderful characters and a winning plot, it's a children's books that stand sup well to adult reading - perfect wet Sunday afternoon joy.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby"

Transport yourself to the opulent parties of New York's Jazz Age in this heartbreaking story of unfulfilled love.  In a Long Island world filled with glittering parties and rose-tinted romance, Gatsby longs for his lost love Daisy.

Using the warmth of summer and the decline into autumn to symbolise his characters' experience, Scott Fitzgerald brings the novel's central love triangle to its head.  It will break your heart.

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Bram Stoker "Dracula"

Undoubtedly the finest, and most famous, example of Gothic horror, Irish Bram Stoker created one of the most recognisable characters of stage and screen.  Set in the atmospheric Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, the brooding atmosphere reveals a series of chilling discoveries that reveal the presence of evil.

Told through a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, and ships' log entries, the story of Count Dracula's attempts to spread the curse of the undead from Transylvania to England gradually  unfolds.  Read in day light!

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With brooding heroes, Gothic romances, crumbling manor houses and stormy skies, these books are what cosy autumn days were made for.  You might never want to go outside again!

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