I’m a transition season girl. Autumn will forever be my favourite, but spring also holds a special place in my heart. The days start to lengthen, flowers begin to bloom, and the sun makes more regular appearances; the world just seems a little bit lighter and more joyful. And it’s the perfect time to settle down on a park bench with a book in your lap.
When I think of the kinds of books I like to read in the springtime, they always seem to have an uplifting mood and sometimes feature a more exotic locale. Oftentimes, I’m drawn to stories with a romantic plot thread or ones with humorous characters and witty dialogue.
The spring books I’ve pulled together here have one or more of these common themes. They’re all equally lovely stories that are perfect for curling up on a blanket in the park or with a cup of coffee at a sunny cafe.
1. Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
“In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold…”
A time-travel tale for people who aren’t that into time travel. This thought-provoking read follows the stories of four individuals who are given the opportunity to visit a moment in their past. The novel centres around the relationships between characters and deals with difficult, life-altering subjects such as grief, terminal illness, and heartbreak. It’s a quick, moving read that will leave you as comforted as if you’d just downed a cup of dark roast.
2. A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
“Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price.
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.”
A Bookstagram and BookTok favourite, ACOTAR is the first in a series of four fantasy novels that are, in my opinion, SJM’s best work to date. It’s a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast that will ensnare you and keep you turning the pages into the wee hours of the night. Admittedly, the writing isn’t anything spectacular, but the characters and world-building in this book will make you look past that. Almost entirely set within the Spring Court, this is a perfect spring book to sink your teeth into when the flowers start to bloom.
3. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
“Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?”
This is a perfect spring book to read when you’re craving a holiday in the Florentine sun. It’s a charming, optimistic romance peppered with critique of the rigid Edwardian society in which the author lived. Much to my surprise, the secondary characters – particularly the stuffy Charlotte, outspoken Mr Emerson, and laughable Cecil – stole the show much more than Forster’s naive and sheltered heroine. Short and sweet, I finished this in two sittings.
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
“When a young girl named Alice falls down a rabbit hole after following a waistcoated white rabbit, she emerges in a fantasy world she could never expect. A delightfully whimsical nonsense tale.”
While you can easily dive straight into this book without a care in the world as a child, it requires a little more suspension of logic when you re-read it as an adult. However, that doesn’t make Carroll’s classic tale of madness and wacky, colourful characters any less enjoyable. It’s a right trip. Pair this book with a cup of tea and a few jam tarts in the park on a spring day to fully immerse yourself in this bizarre world. (Just don’t follow any rabbits.)
5. The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
“The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.
Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?”
Full transparency: this book took a lot out of me. I found the story and subject matter very emotional and I needed multiple breaks. It took me a few weeks to get through it. Don’t let that deter you from it, however – it’s a powerful story, a poignant, complex study of race, identity, community, and motherhood. The plot lines are intricately woven and Bennett’s writing style is incredibly captivating.
6. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
"Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. When she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humberdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup.
So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passions and miracles.”
Anyone familiar with the film will know exactly how absurd and absorbing Buttercup and Westley’s story is. One of the original adventure fairy tales, this book honestly has everything you could ever want: action and sword fights, romance and loss, daring escapes and heartwarming friendships. Not to mention it’s incredibly witty and ridiculous. If there’s one book you could read in spring to lift your spirits, it’s this one.
7. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
“Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urberville.
In her search for respectability, her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits and the hypocrisy of the age.”
I first read Tess in university and it’s remained a firm favourite ever since. It’s both depressing and beautiful in equal measure. Taking place across years and all seasons, most of Tess’ happiness occurs during the springtime months she spends working on a dairy farm. The titular character is naive, sweet, and innocent, yet you cannot help but fall in love with her as her story becomes more and more tragic. She’s a victim of the suffocating Victorian morals and societal constructs that often dealt women the raw hand. Yet, despite her hardship, Tess remains resilient. It’s not a tale for the faint of heart, but one that will stay with you (for better or worse).
8. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
“One of the most cherished love stories in English literature, Jane Austen's 1813 masterpiece has a lasting effect on everyone who reads it. The pride of high-ranking Mr Darcy and the prejudice of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet conduct an absorbing dance through the rigid social hierarchies of early-nineteenth-century England, with the passion of the two unlikely lovers growing as their union seems ever more improbable.”
I had to end this article with one of the ultimate feel-good love stories of all time. A perfect book to read (or re-read!) in the spring when you can feel the setting and characters come to life with the world around you. If you haven’t read this classic (or seen the films), this is the OG ‘enemies to lovers’ novel. It’s littered with witty, memorable characters and beautiful descriptions all neatly tied together with an enchanting narrative.
I hope these spring books delight you and inspire you to journey to a new world this season.
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