It’s no surprise that when the sun comes out Netflix loses its appeal (or maybe throughout winter you’ve already browsed and binged all it has to offer), and everyone rushes outside to soak up some irresistible sunshine – more often than not with a book in hand. As a reader, nothing beats the sense of being totally immersed within the pages of a novel, so why not foster that feeling by reading something suited to the season? The blissful time is not too far away when compulsory course reading lists will be a long-forgotten memory and any book opened will be one of complete choice. In the meantime, get your spring-reading bucket list in order; here are some suggestions that offer particularly compelling reads at this time of year.
- The Beautiful Summer, Cesare Pavese
Reading this book last summer, timing was everything: sat on my swing-bench in the hazy early-evenings during a record-breaking heatwave, it pulled me into its intoxicating world of bohemian art studios, drug-store ices and lingering evening wanders. It instantly became one of my all-time favourites. First published in 1949, Pavese stages this book in 1930s Italy, suffused with the sultry heat of the city in summertime and with a vibe reminiscent of, though somewhat tenderer than, A Streetcar Named Desire. This coming-of-age novel sears with the intensity and intimacy of flourishing youth and first-time but fleeting experiences. Elizabeth Strout specifically admires how Pavese’s ‘maniacal prose…has the summer light pervading it’ and though not precisely set in spring, The Beautiful Summer is nonetheless an absolute must read over the coming months.
Teaser Quote: ‘Life was a perpetual holiday in those days.’
- A Room With A View, M. Forster
In one of Forster’s earlier novels, the structures of Edwardian England are critiqued against the liberating characters, scenes and circles of Florentine life abroad. As hinted in its title’s focus on ‘View’ and perfectly chiming with the new life abundantly blooming in springtime, this 1908 classic explores Lucy Honeychurch’s growth and the way in which her eyes are opened to the prospects of love and life. It is in the book’s minutiae – from its humorous prose to even Lucy’s name: ‘Honeychurch’ – that the story seems to sing of spring.
Teaser Quote: ‘Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.’
- Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
Laurie Lee’s memoir of his childhood years spent in the idyllic and remote Cotswold village of Slad is positively teeming with beautiful, microscopic life. As a local of this area, I can personally vouch for Lee’s true genius and gift in providing a genuine glimpse into life in rural Gloucestershire, which he captures with precision and perceptiveness. The intricacy and sensuality of Lee’s passages are second to none and his descriptive mastery is further enhanced by the powerfully affective mode of intertwining adult retrospection with childhood immediacy.
Teaser quote: ‘Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things.’
- Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Not obviously seasonal, spring nevertheless is categorically the best time of year to read Orwell’s revolutionary novel 1984. Providing a pervasive and systemic critique of the unrelenting, inescapable surveillance of individuals in his foretold society, this is undoubtedly a book that demands to be read unhinged from your TV, computer and phone, and far-removed from the likes of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. When read in our current context, this novel profoundly questions how little our modern, technologically-dominated world differs from the futuristic regime imagined by Orwell. Whether you’ve read it before or never at all, for a heightened effect, read it outside. You’ll find its themes revealed in astonishing clarity – grab a copy and take it to the quietest, most undisturbed, outdoor space you can find and it’ll leave you still wondering if you’re being watched by the trees.
Teaser Quote: ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
- Still Me, Jojo Moyes
The much-anticipated final instalment of Jojo Moyes’ sensational trilogy sees the return of her heart-warming, joyful and larger-than-life heroine Louisa Clarke. Renowned for her ability to give expression to moments that are both crushingly sad and life-affirmingly restorative within her pages, Moyes’ novel is one bursting at the seams with human emotion, in all its unapologetic glory. What could be better-suited for springtime reading than finding one of the nation’s favourite heroines landing on fresh new turf in America? Still Me is utterly brimming with possibility and of course Lou’s favourite accolade: “potential”.
Teaser Quote: ‘I was fully present, my senses alive, my whole being open to receive the new experiences around me. I was in the only place in the world I could possibly be.’
All images sourced from Waterstones website.