October is my favorite month of the year. Not only is my birthday toward the middle of the month, but Halloween is just around the corner and Autumn is just starting to settle in around us. It’s also LGBTQ+ History Month! Fall always puts me in the mood to curl up in a big, cozy armchair in front of a fire and read a good book. Now, I may not have an armchair… or a fireplace, for that matter. But I do have more books than any normal person should need, and I’m always in the fall spirit, which makes me more than equipped to give you book recommendations for the spookiest month of the year. So, without further ado — from graphic horror novels to cozy contemporaries to LGBTQ+ romances — here’s what you should be reading this month!
1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Compared to some of my other favorite horror/thriller novels, this one is way less scary but way more obscure. Now, if you’ve watched the Charlie Kauffman film adaptation recently and you weren’t really a fan, I highly suggest you read this book, considering Kauffman turned it into more of an art piece than anything else. Usually, when I’m trying to get someone to read something, I’d give them a summary of the book, but going into this one, all you really need to know is that it’s about a woman and her boyfriend who go on a road trip to visit his parents. And that’s all you’re getting out of me! This novel is a pretty slow burner but it builds up the suspense in a way that leaves you reeling once you’ve reached the climax and it’s perfect if you’re new to horror or just want a quick, unsettling read!
2. The Shining by Stephen King
If you know me personally, you’ll know that Stephen King is perhaps my favorite author of all time. While "Misery" is my favorite book of his, "The Shining" is undeniably iconic and spooky. It’s about a man named Jack Torrance who goes to the Overlook Hotel in Colorado with his family to take care of it during the winter months. Jack is a writer and a recovering alcoholic and the hotel doesn’t do great things for his mind and his sanity. His son, Danny, also has a psychic ability called “the shining” which allows him to see ghosts, among other things. King has a beautiful way of setting up suspense and this book is no exception. It shifts from creepy to horrifying and Jack’s descent into madness parallels the plot in a super interesting way. You really can’t go wrong with a spooky, haunted hotel for Halloween so if you’re going to read one book from this list let it be this one.
3. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
As a fan of horror books and as someone who reads them year-round, even I need a break between them to re-catch my bearings. "Red, White & Royal Blue" is a beautiful LGBTQ+, interracial romance novel that I read over the summer and it includes the interesting “enemies to lovers” trope that so many people love. Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the United States, is an international socialite who has his fair share of partying, but also has his own political aspirations outside his mother’s (yes, a WOMAN is POTUS). Alex’s least favorite person is Prince Henry of England, and when photographs of them post-confrontation blow up, causing relations between England and the U.S. to become threatened, Alex and Henry have to pretend to be friends for the press. Obviously, this transitions into real friendship and then something more as Alex (who thought he was straight) and Henry both navigate their sexuality. This book does an incredible job at showing LGBTQ+ relationships in that the queer characters don’t have to experience trauma as it relates to their sexuality and they get to live freely and happily. This has become one of my favorite books and would be such an amazing thing to read for LGBTQ+ History Month!
4. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Okay, I lied, if you’re going to read a book from this list, please make it this one! As the title suggests, it’s about a housewife who suspects that her new, hot neighbor might be a murderous vampire after some kids start to act funny and go missing. She enlists the help of her book club friends to figure out what the man’s deal is and put a stop to it. While the concept sounds simple, this book is so insanely frightening and unsettling and it has some of the most horrifying, jaw-dropping scenes I have ever read. But it’s also quite funny and clever, as well. Hendrix also sets up the vampire trope in a way that I’ve never seen before, which makes it even scarier. I’m not lying when I tell you when I couldn’t fall asleep for the entire week after I finished this book. It’s an absolute must-read for Halloween and one of my favorites of 2020!
5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
There is so much I could say about this beautiful book. I read it last month for a (virtual) book club and let me tell you… Miss Evelyn is a Libra if I’ve ever seen one! The book is about a struggling journalist named Monique who randomly gets approached to write a piece about the usually-elusive Evelyn Hugo, a former actress who is incredibly famous and was huge for many decades. Over the course of interviewing Evelyn, she learns about her life and many secrets, which overlap with Monique’s own life and her impending divorce. Not only is the novel a beautiful look at Old Hollywood and the last few decades of the 1900s, but it also features queer characters and romances and flips frequently to the present day. It has so many wonderful surprises and shocking twists while also having so much heart and heartbreak. Reid breathes so much life into the characters and writes about them in such a thoughtful way. This goes without saying, but this is one of the best books I’ve ever read and it’s one I highly recommend.
6. The Whisper Man by Alex North
If you’ve watched "Mindhunter," or you just enjoy serial killer mysteries, you would absolutely love "The Whisper Man." It’s about a man, Tom, and his son, Jake, who move into a new house in a new town after Tom’s wife (Jake’s mother) dies. The town has a serial killer past, of course, involving some gruesome murders 20 years ago; the perpetrator of which is in prison and was nicknamed the Whisper Man. When a young boy vanishes in the present day under similar circumstances to the old kidnappings/murders, it becomes apparent to a pair of detectives that there is very much a possibility that a Whisper Man copycat is in their midst. The book is incredibly unsettling and creepy and flips between the perspectives of Tom, Jake, both detectives, and the killer, which is one of the best parts about it. It also deals with grief and how people cope. As the story progresses, it’s hard to put the book down, so I’d definitely give yourself a day to read this!
7. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Although this book really doesn’t necessarily fall into any of the categories I’ve mentioned so far, it’s a beautiful contemporary fiction novel that made me feel so cozy and warm inside; perfect for fall. It’s about a bank robbery that goes haywire and, when the bank robber escapes to an apartment with an open door, they realize it’s full of people who are there for an apartment viewing and considers them hostages. It’s also about the two cops (ACAB), a father a son, who are trying to figure out who and where the bank robber is, so the book changes perspectives between each of them and all the individual people in the apartment building. On the surface, the concept seems a bit silly and the characters seem idiotic but, at its core, the book is about each of the flawed characters and how they process what’s going on in their individual lives. It’s about being human. At times, it’s also about mental health. While the book did have a good mystery going and a few shocking twists, I liked it because it gave me so much comfort and security with myself. While maybe you don’t HAVE to read it this month, it’s a definite must-read for the Autumn months!
One of my favorite ways of purchasing books is through Book of the Month, because it’s only $15 a month! If you want to buy some of the books I’ve mentioned, or anything else that interests you, you can use this link and you’ll get $5 off your first book! You can also get any add-ons, apart from your monthly pick, for $10. They haven’t paid me to say any of this, I just love getting my books from them because they’re brand new, hardcover, and way cheaper than I can find them anywhere else!