This November, as the homesickness sets in, the stress of midterms heightens, and the dining hall food fails to satisfy, it’s time to cozy up with a few good reads. Compiled below is a roundup of autumn’s best prose featuring family, fall leaves, rainy weather, and of course, turkey.
5. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
A heartwarming classic, this children’s tale actually contains countless poignant lessons that even college students can benefit from. Written in 1908, the tale follows the adventures of several anthropomorphic animals as they navigate the worlds of friendship, adventure, and class systems. Filled with descriptions of nature and landscape, it is the perfect fall adventure. Not simply a children’s story, Grahame’s classic comments on the nature of social hierarchy and the relationship between a luxurious country-house upper class and a revolutionary working-class. This tale will pique your imagination, leave you feeling nostalgic about your childhood, and remind you to treat everyone with a little more kindness this season.
4. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
Following a California boy named Richard as he navigates the world of an elite liberal arts college, this novel may hit a little too close to home. However, it follows several snobby and elitist classics students and their professor as they deal with the aftermath of the murder of one of their classmates, so let’s hope it isn’t too true to life. With tales of betrayal, immorality, and intrigue, all set in a quintessential New England liberal arts university, this book is the perfect read to delve into from the comfort of your dorm room.
3. “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving
This heart-wrenching novel by John Irving is considered one of his best. Set in early 20th century Maine, the plot follows Dr. Larch, who runs an orphanage and is an abortion doctor, and Homer Wells, the orphan Larch practically raises. Irving deals with a quite controversial and difficult topic, the book is a thought-provoking look at the realities of abortion at a time when it was illegal in America. Perhaps most poignant, however, are the relationships depicted in the novel and the stunning characters that are easy to empathize with. The beautiful descriptions of mist and never-ending fog throughout make this the perfect book to read cozied up in a coffee shop or wrapped in a blanket. Thoughtful, nostalgic, and incredibly well-written, “The Cider House Rules” is a beautiful coming-of-age tale that will not only make you think, but make you feel.
2. “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” by Louisa May Alcott
One of the “Little Women” author’s lesser-known short stories follows the Bassett family in New Hampshire as the children are tasked with preparing Thanksgiving dinner while the parents are called away by a family emergency. Having grown up in Concord, a mere half-hour drive from Harvard — and where “Little Women” was subsequently set — Alcott is no stranger to the autumnal allure of Massachusetts. A light read, this sweet tale will remind you of everything you love about fall in New England, offering everything a short story set in November should: humorous family dynamics, a cozy indoor setting with a roaring fire, and descriptions of warm apple pie. Pick this up in between psets for a wholesome study break that will have you yearning for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal with your family.
1. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
Set against the Yorkshire moors of England, this Victorian classic is the perfect book to curl up with on a rainy day. Bonus points if you’re sipping a cup of tea. The descriptions of the gloomy weather will perfectly match the scene outside your window, and the wild English setting is a kind of comforting chaos. Set as a frame tale — or a story within a story — it is a difficult yet engrossing read, exploring the lives of an isolated and not so socially acceptable family. While the characters are neither heartwarming nor particularly likeable, Catherine and Heathcliff’s tumultuous relationship is a deep look into the flaws that make us human. There is an elusiveness to this book that simply demands it be read.