Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Monday, March 26, 2012

On the Bookshelf—Spring Reads

I like to read books that coordinate with the season. This time of year, that means books that take place in spring, have a new life and blooming flowers, or remind me of summer. And for a while, I only read romances during spring, when the world is alive with twitterpations. Here are some suggestions if you're in the same frame of mind as me:

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, illustrated by C. Walter Hodges. I read this children's fantasy book a couple weeks ago when I was down with the mumps and it is absolutely delightful. It reminds me of The Secret Garden a bit, and also takes place in the spring. Apparently it was J.K. Rowling’s favorite book as a child. The land of Moonacre is more idealic than realistic, but it’s so very pleasant to immerse oneself in its world of primroses and daffodils, fresh milk and apple pasties, colorful singing children, beech trees and ancient castles, articulate dwarves and clever cats, feathered hats and silk mittens, sugar biscuits topped with candied flowers. I would like to live in Moonacre.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Full of new life, this classic is an ideal spring read.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris. This is a good book to read during Lent (unless perhaps you gave up chocolate for Lent. Then you might want to stay away.) If you've only seen the movie, well, you know—read the book. While the movie was quite enjoyable, it definitely upped the romance and downplayed feminist qualities in order to appeal to a mainstream audience.


The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. If you like a bit of romance, this is a good time of year to start Roberts' Bride Quartet. The first book, Vision in White, takes place in winter, and so is appropriate for these snowy March Idaho days. I read it last year at Holden Village in February in between bouts of snowshoeing. The second book, Bed of Roses, will help you welcome in spring with an abundance of flowers. Savor the Moment, the third book, takes place in summer, and the last book, Happy Ever After, takes place in autumn, if I remember correctly. As blogger Kate Nagy said about Vision in White, "with its sprightly heroine and its strong depiction of female friendship and its delightfully nerdy hero, it’s a frilly, frothy vision of winter weddings and happy, pleasant people being pleasantly happy with one another."

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I don't know why, but spring makes me want to read P&P. Emma is also a springish book if you want some Austen, especially during strawberry season, but Emma isn't one of my favorites.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I crave Gaskell in the spring. When the cherries are ripe in the summer is also a good time for Cranford.

Katie Fforde. British author Katie Fforde is one of my favorite romance authors, and if you are wary of the romance genre she's probably a good introduction. Her books are great for ushering in spring and summer. The novels include conflicts like saving the farmer's market from being paved over to make condominiums, remaking a house with the protagonist's savvy carpentry skills, and winning a gardening contest. A few titles good for the warm months include Wild Designs, Paradise Fields, Practically Perfect, and Flora's Lot. One of my favorites is Second Thyme Around, in which the protag stars in a cooking show.

Emily Dickinson. Some of Dickinson's nature poems never go amiss.

Mary Oliver. Ditto.

Do you have any suggestions? What do you like to read in the spring?


  1. Oooh, I'm intrigued by The Little White Horse! I'm on some not-spring-y reading right now: latest re-read of The Hunger Games :)
    Their Eyes Were Watching God is a good spring book, though, with the pear tree and the flood.

  2. The Little White Horse is so good. I'm reading it right now and I absolutely love it! But my copy has a prancing unicorn on the cover, and people on the subway give me weird looks...