When I was a kid, I listened to Christmas music year-round. I would play my dad’s vinyl Goodyear Christmas records on St. Patrick’s Day, Easter weekend, Memorial day through Labor Day, then all through the fall. I loved the emotions those songs evoked. Anticipation, happiness, love. And since Christmas Day took FOREVER to arrive, I thought that if I listened to the music all year long, time would speed up.



But now that I’m older, time is going by way too fast and I have this desperate need to grab hold of every minute and slow things down.


So while today’s Writer Wednesday’s post is about your favorite holiday books, I’m not going to talk about Christmas books. Or Halloween books. Or any other kind of holiday books. I’m going to talk about books that evoke the emotions I attribute to my all-time favorite season: Fall.

Why do we listen to Christmas music or read holiday books or beach stories anyway? Is it to remind us in the middle of winter that summer (and summer love) will come regardless of the ten-foot snow drift outside your door? Or to give us hope no matter how difficult the year has been? To remember that on one special day of the year all of our desperate cries and unanswered dreams will be reflected in a single Star of grace?




Maybe. But I also believe that since readers read to feel something, they choose books (even subconsciously) that evoke the emotions of each season. Summer reads are full of laughter, forgiveness, and fleeting love. Spring books are stories of redemption and renewal and weddings. Winter books? Hope that there is a light in the darkness.


But what about Fall?

Fall is the time of year when days are shorter, nights appear darker, the air fluctuates between warm and cold. And in the midst of the changing weather and light, colors become more vibrant (red, purple, orange), smells more intense (burning leaves and pumpkin spice lattes), and there’s a parallel between beginnings (school) and endings (growing season). Harvests are coming in, favorite foods reappear (apple cider and pumpkin pie), Halloween signals the thinning of the veil between life and death, and the first snowflake falls.



fall oatlands tea 045

Fall reactivates every sense at once. Yet there’s a desperateness to it all. We fear that if we don’t cut our pumpkins, get to the Renaissance Faire, pick apples at a Harvest Festival, or roast marshmallows after Trick or Treating, the season will disappear with the first appearance of Christmas decorations, sometimes as early as All Souls Day, before we can enjoy it all.

With this in mind, I’ve made a short list of my favorite books that I re-read every fall, books that capture this season. Books about ghosts, dying dreams, gratitude and family, hopelessness against fate, feasts and food, and even magic.


First up, my all-time favorite book when I was a teenager:

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope:

Amazon blurb: In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.

This book entranced me when I was a teenager. Not only is it a poignant teenage love story based on the Legend of Tam Lin, it includes murder, mystery, and fairy folk with the climax of the book taking place on Halloween. The heroine wears green velvet cloaks and gets lost in the autumn woods. When the hero, Christopher, is captured, Kate, the heroine, has to save him. Then he has to save her. There are towers and moats and spells and insanity. There’s a lost girl and a heartbreaking sacrifice. But most of all, there’s forgiveness at the very edge of midnight, the moment before All Souls Day.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling:

Besides being a huge Harry Potter fan, I included this book for the simple reason that every book in the series starts with the new school year. And new school years are nothing more than metaphors for new beginnings. Despite the fact Death Eaters lurk everywhere, Harry is safe at Hogwarts with the promise of dark afternoons spent with Hermione and Ron at the Leaky Cauldron drinking butter beer in front of the fire.

When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd:

This autobiographical account of a spiritual crises always makes me cry and gives me hope. It’s about endings and beginnings and spiritual awakenings. Highly metaphorical, this book reaches beyond the pain of past hurts and forces the reader to open his or her heart to new possibilities hiding in the shadowy mist. But only if the reader trusts that the dark night is always followed by the morning sun.


The Once and Future King by T. H. White:

The story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. With Merlin and Mordred and Morgan Le Fey. Knights in shining armor, ladies in velvet dresses, love and longing, honor and truth, deceit and betrayal. Reading about the legends of King Arthur is like walking through a Renaissance Faire with blazing bonfires and hot mulled cider (without the horse droppings). Yet, despite the deaths and brutal endings, the story offers a seed of hope that only comes from forgiveness and redemption.


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Amazon blurb: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

A beautiful YA love story that includes a search for Ley Lines and the legend of the sleeping Welsh Kings. A lush story of teenage love and all its crippling angst set against the backdrop of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in the waning light of fall.


Lover Eternal by JR Ward

Amazon blurb: Within the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Rhage is the warrior vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the deadliest fighter, the most voracious lover, the quickest to act on his impulses. He’s also been cursed with two hundred years of hell. Possessed by a beast, he lives in fear of the times when his inner dragon comes out and he’s a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce has unwittingly found herself in the vampire world, and under Rhage’s protection. With her own life-threatening curse to bear, she’s not looking for love. Besides, she’s stopped believing in saving grace and miracles long ago. But when Rhage’s intense sexual attraction turns into emotional bonding, he knows he must have her for his mate. As their enemies close in, Mary finds herself praying for something she fears she’ll never have: life eternal with the one she loves.

I don’t know why this book speaks to me in the fall because there’s nothing outwardly fall-ish about the story. Except for the fact that the hero is a vampire and Halloween is in the fall. But I think it has to do the heroine Mary. Her sacrifice in this book always makes me weep. She accepts her choice so willingly, despite her own heartbreak, and it reminds me that even when dreams die, and you submit to the hopelessness of the truth you never wanted to face, that fate always finds a way to reward you.


Dark Prince by Christine Feehan

Amazon Blurb: Breathtaking story of a beautiful hunter with extraordinary telepathic abilities captivated by the powerful allure of a tormented prince of the mysterious Carpathians.

Yes, another vampire novel. But this one takes place in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. The setting alone evokes everything about Autumn, but the emotions are what draw me back year after year. Like JR Ward’s book above, this heroine has to make heart-wrenching choices. Yet all of her decisions are made to protect the family she never thought she could have and would do anything to protect. It’s less about magic and fangs and more about family and love.

Which leads me to the next book:

Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan

This book is a reunion book of Ms. Feehan’s Carpathian Hunters and their families at a Thanksgiving celebration. And reading about “vampires” trying to outdo each other while cooking meals they’ve never cooked, and playing football without knowing the rules, will make you laugh out loud. This book is ALL about family, feasts, and forgiveness. It’s about grace and gratitude. And nothing represents fall more than stories about grace and gratitude.



How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Amazon blurb: Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

Although this book starts in the summer, it evokes the feelings of desperateness and longing more than any other book I’ve read in a long time. Maybe because it’s a YA romance (yes, it is a romance), or maybe because it’s written in almost complete stream of consciousness, this book is so over-the-top emotional that it plunges you into its depths with the first sentence. You feel, like the heroine Daisy, that you are trapped in a metaphorical deep well with moss-covered walls, at night, and no chance of help. Yet, just when things are the worst they can be, a tiny ray of light appears. And you realize that love will even defeat the horrors of war. (They made a movie of this book! It’s on Netflix and it’s wonderful albeit disturbing.)



Red Mortal by Deidre Knight

Amazon blurb: Leonidas has long led his fellow immortal warriors in battle with quiet, unyielding strength. But when Daphne, Oracle of Delphi, confesses to having loved him from afar, Leo finds his stoic shell breaking away. Just as their love ignites, Daphne’s half-brother Ares strips Leonidas of his immortality. Now, it’s just a matter of time before Leonidas is taken from her-unless they can find a way to challenge Ares together.

Again, this story doesn’t take place in the fall but it relies heavily on the themes of redemption, hopelessness against fate, and family. But mostly it’s a story of forgiveness. Forgiveness of self, of brother, of God. It’s my favorite of the Gods of Midnight series because it so beautifully describes the heartache we cause ourselves and others when we don’t allow others into our hearts. Yes, it almost sounds like a Christmas book. But because this story is driven by the need for family, and gratitude for those we’ve love and lost, it falls firmly in the Autumn pile.


And, finally, anything by Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving.

Seriously. Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow? The Tell-Tale Heart? The Raven?

The emotions these two authors serve up don’t get any more dark or scary or intense. Mr. Poe and Mr. Irving were masters of emotional manipulation, and their collected works are two of the treasures on our family’s keeper shelf.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the list and now I’d love to hear from you. What books evoke the emotions of your favorite holidays? I’d love to know!

Thank your for spending the day with us. Below is a link of my Golden Heart sisters who are participating in today’s blog party. Hope to see you next month!

Novels with Romantic Elements – Jean Willett – Natalie Meg Evans | Romantic Suspense – Sharon Wray | Paranormal writers – Kay Hudson | Contemporary Romance –Tamra Baumann – Lauren Christopher

Writer Wednesday List

All photos courtesy of Sharon Wray.

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  1. Sharon, you always evoke emotion with your writing. Thanks for sharing a list of books I haven’t read….yet. Fall is a beautiful season for me. Raining leaves, blustery winds and weather changes. From cool to cold to a freaky Indian Summer warmth, the Fall season makes me want to declutter and dust, sweep out the cobwebs and recharge with hot chocolate, apple pies and simmering cinnamon teas.
    I agree that the holiday season sends everyone into a tailspin of panic when the first bows appear in JULY!! The marketing efforts seem to rush the days by before we can enjoy them. So, I find time to watch movies, read new authors and bake. The sensations of the Fall season bring out the cozy moments of a new fire in the fireplace, soft sweaters and cuddles under a quilt.
    And the time to enter the Golden Heart Awards 😉

  2. It’s so funny you mentioned decluttering. For some reason, I am driven to clean the house from top to bottom in the fall, more so than in the spring. Maybe it’s because I can’t stand the thought of decorating a dirty house. But once the house is clean, all I want to do is eat pie!
    And I forgot about the GH being in the fall. I still have to make a decision about that! 🙂

  3. First off, you both NEED to enter the GH Sharon and Jean! You both are fantastic writers and the world of publishing is a slow moving Ferris Wheel…you just have to be lucky enough to time your jump on!

    I’ve only read a few of the books on your list, Sharon, but the YA’s sound particularly intriguing to me. I shall go 1-click and add them to my TBR pile even though that stack is getting so tall on my Kindle I’m afraid I’m going to blowup the cloud where they are stored! (If it starts raining books you can blame that on me! :0)

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tammy! I will probably enter and just cross my fingers like I do every year. 🙂
      I can’t wait to hear what you think of the YAs. They are different from the big ones out there right now, but just as wonderful. And yes, if it rains books, I will blame you right after I pick up as many as I can!

  4. What an interesting list of books, Sharon. The only one of them on my shelves is The Once and Future King, which I have read numerous times–but not recently. Maybe it’s time again.

    And those are all gorgeous photos.

  5. Thanks, Kay. For this blog post, I pulled out all of my books but I can find my copy of The Once and Future King. I was so upset that I just ordered another one from Amazon. I hope it comes soon because I always read it around Thanksgiving!

    And I’d love to know what you think of any of the other books when you get a chance to read them. 🙂

  6. I read The Once and Future King long ago, but perhaps I need to dust it down – do I still have it? You are right about the sadness that stalks autumn. Over here, we’re holding on to it as mild weather keeps the leaves on the trees but that moment of nakedness will come. Then it’s time to dive into a well-loved book, beside a glowing fire. I loved your list and your stream of amber leaves and pumpkins.

    1. Thank you, Natalie! Despite the fact I have being stuck indoors, I am also looking forward to reading by a fire. And writing by the fire as I get my best work done in fall and winter. I’m so glad you loved the list and I think we should all read TOAFK together, kind of like a Firebird book club. 🙂

      1. Why don’t we suggest it and do a group blog later?

  7. Wow, Sharon, such eclectic tastes in reading. I’m all about Carla Neggars’ books to give me fall and New England. Just can’t be beat, even when she sets her story in Tennessee, as she does some of them. Fall is my favorite season and I hate commercialism has just about rushed it out of existence. But don’t get me started on that. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Marsha! I agree with you about the commercialization of Christmas. I hate seeing anything having to do with Christmas before Thanksgiving. And there are some stores I won’t shop in anymore because the start showing Christmas things in July and August. I love fall and hate to see it get pushed said.
      I also love Carla Neggars – and you’re right, there’s always a “fall feeling” about her books. I need to add her to my list!

  8. Sarah Andre says:

    Lovely blog as usual, Sharon! I adored Rhage’s story as well, only read the first 5 and that one was my fav. You really got the suffering and love in that one. And of course any of the Harry Potters. That speaks to all generations! Happy fall (it’s still low 90s here…I have to remind myself it’s Nov!)

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah. I am so glad that I’m not the only one who adored Rhage’s story. It’s still one of my favorites from the BDB series. Now I’d love to see some of the photos from your Halloween party. I’m sure that helped you get in the fall mood despite the weather. 🙂

  9. Great post, Sharon, some of these are new to me and some are favorites. I love the BDB boys too and Carla Neggers. Another fav of mine is Elizabeth Lowell. Most of her books take place in the Seattle area with grey skies and deep emotion, very fall-like 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jacquie! And I forgot about Elizabeth Lowell. Hers would be perfect for this list! So glad to know another BDB fan. 🙂

  10. Fantastic post! Fall is my favorite time of year. Jennifer Gracen recently wrote a 4 books series following one couple that dedicated a book to each season. I just LOVED the first, because it was set in the fall and I could just smell the leaves. She has a novella in Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories releasing in Dec. I’m looking forward to reading that!

    1. I was traveling, Wendy, and just saw your comment to approve it. But thank you for Jennifer Gracen recommendation. I am definitely going to try and read those within their “right” seasons. They sound wonderful! 🙂

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