What better way to spend fall than curled up by a fire with a book and a hot beverage? Fall is all about the ambiance, so get immersed in these books by Texan authors that are perfect for the season.
From true crime to small town Texas football, from paranormal chick lit to a middle grade Hansel and Gretel retelling, we’ve got everything you need to really feel the fall vibes.
Fall books to read #1 – Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town by Nate Blakeslee
Tulia takes place in the summer of 1999 in a west Texas small town of the same, when 39 people, almost all of whom were Black, were arrested and charged with dealing cocaine. The federally-funded operation was led by a notoriously unreliable officer, Tom Coleman, who was named Texas Lawman of the Year for his work.
This book covers the original case as well as the legal battle that led to the reversal of the convictions in the summer of 2003. It’s a gripping tale of injustice, race and poverty in rural America that touches on hard hitting themes nationwide.
Fall books to read #2 – The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin
This spooky middle grade retelling of Hansel and Gretel follows Lorelei, whose school mysteriously burns down overnight and is replaced with the utopian Splendid Academy. But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew soon discover that their teacher is a real live witch and unthinkable horrors — including several cannibalistic adults — reveal themselves.
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is chilling in the way that only children’s novels can be. Reminiscent of The Witches by Roald Dahl and Coraline by Neil Gaiman, this book will even unsettle adult readers.
Fall books to read #3 – Tumbleweeds by Leila Meecham
Tumbleweeds follows recently orphaned 11 year old Cathy Benson who moves to Kersey, a small town in the Texas panhandle where football is everything. She is taken under the wing of classmates John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, orphans like herself, and the three form a lifelong bond that teeters on the lines of friendship and romance.
This is the perfect book for those not looking for thrillers or horror, but rather a quiet, reflective and moving novel that revolves around something so quintessentially Texan: fall football season.
Fall books to read #4 – Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
This thriller, Black-Eyed Susans, follows Tessa Cartwright, who was found at 16 years old barely alive in a Texas field and deemed the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan” — the nickname given to the murder victims because of the sheet of yellow flowers that grows over their shared grave.
Two decades later, she finds freshly planted black-eyed susans right outside her window and questions if years ago she sent the wrong man to jail, and if the killer is still out there…
Fall books to read #5 – Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale
Edge of Dark Water, a novel by Texan king of horror Joe Lansdale, starts with the murder of May Lynn, a teen girl who dreamed of being a movie star. That is, until she was murdered and her body was found drifting up the Sabine River, bound with wire and weighted down. May’s best friend Sue Ellen wants to take her ashes to Hollywood until the dead girl’s diary reveals the location of a large sum of money.
Fall books to read #6 – Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth by John Hubner
Last Chance in Texas delves deep into Giddings State School, a juvenile prison facility in Texas with one of the most successful treatment programs for young offenders in America. Journalist John Hubner follows two adolescents at the facility through harrowing group therapy sessions where they recount the abuse that led up to their crimes.
This book approaches true crime from a unique lens: one of empathy. Last Chance in Texas is at times a difficult read but leaves the reader full of hope.
Fall books to read #7 – The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth
This true story is set in late 1800s Austin, following a serial killer called the Midnight Assassin who traversed the city at night, using axes, knives and long steel rods to murder women.
At least a dozen men were arrested in connection with the murders, but officials were never sure if the Midnight Assassin was ever actually caught. In fact, when Jack the Ripper surfaced in London years later, many wondered if the Midnight Assassin had assumed a new guise across the Atlantic.
Fall books to read #8 – Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
The Sookie Stackhouse series follows Southern waitress and telepath Sookie, who lives a fairly unassuming life until she starts dating a vampire and everything goes awry… This cozy, addictive series is equal parts mystery, paranormal and romance — and all fun.
Fall books to read #9 – Fresh-Baked Mystery series by Livia J. Washburn
This cozy mystery series follows retired small town Texas teacher Phyllis Newsom. The first book, A Peach of a Murder, takes place at a peach festival where the corpse of a no good local appears. Phyllis is determined to crack the case, all while out-baking her competitors and winning peach festival honors.
Fall books to read #10 – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This romance novel follows the titular Aristotle and Dante, two Texas teens who are used to navigating life on their own. Aristotle’s brother is in prison, and Dante is a soft spoken boy who finds it difficult to make friends. When the two first meet, it seems they have nothing in common. But they soon develop a special bond that helps them both figure out who they want to be.
The long awaited sequel, Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World, comes out October 12.
Check out this list of 10 more books by Texan authors!
Somehow read all of these? We have another curated list of fall books by Texan authors.