Top 5 Classics for Autumn

September 18, 2019

I don’t really set TBRs – I’m a mood reader through and through. So when the temperature drops and the daylight disappears, I find myself drawn to books with that slightly creepy edge. I’ve put together a list of my top 5 classics which capture this mood perfectly.


This book was an obvious first choice for me. I read it for the first time this summer and it became an instant favourite of mine. If you're not aware of the plot, it follows a young and naive unnamed narrator, who meets Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo and quickly becomes his wife. But when she returns to his English home of Manderley, she cannot escape the reminders of his first wife, Rebecca. The novel is based on the mysterious presence of Rebecca and the tension surrounding what happened to her. It's a total gothic gem, with du Maurier interweaving the ominous setting with a whole host of enigmatic characters, and I found it (unexpectedly) super creepy - some parts towards the end literally had me sitting up in bed with my heart racing. 

Besides all this good stuff (which would qualify it as an already excellent book), we also see great character development in our unnamed narrator. I honestly think this is a book everyone should read, because it delivers a hugely impactful message about how we get so wrapped up in what we think we know that we miss what is right in front of our faces. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Buy this book here: Amazon | The Book Depository

The Picture of Dorian Gray 

It's been a few years since I read The Picture of Dorian Gray for the first time, and I'm actually planning to reread it this autumn and I. can’t. wait. If you don’t already know what this book is about, I’ll spare you my attempts to describe it in all its glory. Penguin have done already done an excellent job:

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The novel was a succès de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.

So we have all the makings of a super disturbing novel: hedonism, self-obsession, casual cruelty, etc. Wilde’s writing is famously beautiful – his words melt into one as you read, pulling you along into the story of Dorian Gray’s madness. It’s genius! It’s also a super short book, which is why I always recommend it if you are looking for a good starter classic.

Buy this book here: Amazon | The Book Depository


Again, it’s been a few years, but I absolutely loved Frankenstein when I first read it. Following the creation of Frankenstein’s monster, it’s an unsettling tale of what happens when science is unbound by moral limits. It’s not shocking nor particularly scary, but it does a fantastic job of stirring up that sense of dread and unease in the pit of your stomach. It’s also a surprisingly heartbreaking book, an element which is entirely missed in the many film adaptations. It’s a much more powerful story that it is often presented to be, and one that I will always recommend.

Buy this book here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Jane Eyre 

This one hardly warrants an explanation – I actually debated putting it on the list because it’s such an obvious choice. But there is a reason behind this book’s popularity, especially at this time of the year, and who would I be to deny it? There are so many chilling elements to this masterpiece – deceptive appearances, vulnerability, hints of the supernatural. But it’s so much more than that – a combination of a Gothic tale, great romance, and social commentary about the rights of women.  The great tension between Jane’s search for a family and desire for independence, for example, is one of my favourite themes throughout the book. And of course, the romance is to die for.

Buy this book here: Amazon | The Book Depository

American Psycho 

Whereas the other books on this list have the whole autumn/gothic/aesthetic vibe going on, American Psycho is out and out gore.  If you’re looking for something horrifically shocking, look no further. Some of the themes in this book are similar to Dorian Gray (I’m talking in extremely broad terms here) – hedonism, self-obsession, descent into madness, etc. But the contrast in delivery couldn’t be starker. Bret Easton Ellis tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a psychopath who works on Wall Street in the 1980s, through a constant contrast of the banal and the brutal. It’s a satire of the American Dream, which examines the vapidity of corporate culture and the middle class. One minute the characters are fighting over table reservations; the next, Bateman is chopping up a body. It’s so disturbing, pretty hilarious, and deeply profound. It’s also one of the most controversial books of all time, and some people find it extremely offensive because of its explicit nature. Beware.

Buy this book here: Amazon | The Book Depository

I hope you get some inspiration from this little list for your Autumn TBR! Let me know if you've read any of these books, or what classics you think are perfect for this time of year.

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