Five Books to Read for a Dark Academia Fall


Avery Ferguson, Staff Writer

(This article does play with satirical elements, so please do not yell at me if I insult a book you love.) It is finally below 80 degrees, so, you know what that means! It means it’s time to read every book set at a mysterious prep school while drinking once hot tea on a not windy enough porch. It can be hard to find books that hit the sub genre of dark academia just right, but that is what I am here for. Here are my top five books for a hot-girl, dark academia fall (also make sure to check all of the trigger warnings for each of the books as some dive into heavy topics):


  1. The Secret History: Donna Tartt

The Secret History, written by Donna Tartt, has been a dark academia classic for the past thirty years. It is set at a private school in the Vermont countryside and explores six classics’ students on their journey through obsession and the struggle with their need for aesthetics with none other than a mysterious Greek professor to guide them. Who better could have Ms. Tartt picked as the narrator other than the unreliable and un-loveable character of Richard Papen! Richard is just one of the six classics students who gets a little too excited over Homer to be considered mentally stable. The style of narration throughout the book only adds to the mystery and uncertainty the author cultivates through big words and even bigger chapters. This book is just the embodiment of dark academia and mystery with enough Greek to make you use Google Translate.

  1. The Atlas Six: Olivie Blake

Do you like books that explain physics better than your actual physics teacher? The Atlas Six follows, yet again six, “magicians” as they are inducted into a secret society and have to compete for a permanent spot in the world’s elite class. This book is set in the mystical, ever-entrancing long lost Library of Alexandria, where the group develops their magical skills as well as their relationships with each other. There are seven, different beautifully written POVs and detailed enough prose it took a week to get through one chapter. The Atlas Six is perfect for lovers of not literally insane magic systems and those who love chaotic characters with enough childhood trauma for twenty lifetimes.

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue: V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, while beautiful, will have you questioning what you just spent hours of your life reading by the time you’re done with it. This book has the prose of an old French romance novel, but the modern hot-morally gray semi love interest everybody loves. This book is written almost as if it were historical fiction as it follows a girl from the time of the 1400s throughout her magically elongated life into the 2000s. She’s been cursed by this evil spirit and now she can live forever, but leave no trace she was ever there. Well, at least until she meets, you guessed it, a man. He is the nerdy, curly-haired bookstore worker, everyone and their mother always falls for, but, here, he is equally as mysterious as our cursed main character. While you might want to pull out your hair and scream at the main character every now and then, this book is beautifully written and explores difficult human themes in easily digestible ways.

  1. If We Were Villains: M.L. Rio

Do you love Shakespeare? Are you an academic overachiever an inch from burnout? Do you love sad, mysterious, queer romances? If you answered yes to any of these questions, If We Were Villains is the perfect fall read for you. This is if Donna Tartt wrote a queer, less bigoted, and theater themed verison of The Secret History. This story follows yet another group of college graduate students as they perform Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies and end up accidentally murdering someone. The prose and setting is yet again the word vomit of your wildest dreams and the obsessiveness of the characters is more than likely to rub off on you; I read this book in one sitting, and I only got up to make more coffee. The writing just entrances you into the world and, in my case, makes you spend $30 on copies of Shakespeare’s plays.

  1. A Little Life: Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life is anything but little. This almost 900 page monstrosity of a book follows four college friends throughout their lifetimes and into their different adulthoods. While it is not a poorly fleshed out murder mystery type of dark academia, it is a slow-paced, character driven novel with the writing style of a fountain of poetry. This book discusses the themes of friendship, or the lack thereof, trauma, and self worth. It will make you cry for hours and once you choose a song to associate with it, everytime it comes on, the tears will fall. This book is a very heavy read that I advise only semi-mentally stable people to pick up, but, boy, is it worth it.