While not being the type of reader who likes to make challenging and exhaustive ‘TBR’ lists, I definitely do like to try and match the books I read to the seasons I’m in. And while I often stray from this by reading horrors in the summer, or The Great Gatsby in winter, I think there’s something that makes a book more immersive if it perfectly encapsulates the season surrounding you. So, as we edge our way into spring, after what feels like a dark and long winter, I will share with you what books put a spring in my step this time of year.
The first book I’d like to introduce is Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which, like many of the books on this list, happens to be one of my favourites all time. This book takes place across one hot June day in post-first world war England; I first read it back in April last year as the first lockdown was coming in and I fell in love with it for many reasons.
The overarching message is that, with life changing, and death happening all around us, we should focus on the beauties of life
The first reason was that I listened to the audiobook version of it whilst on my daily walk, which felt like the best way to take it in as it perfectly fit the narrative I was listening to. While Mrs Dalloway walked through the streets on her way to collect flowers for her party in the scorching heat, I was likewise walking under the heat to get my only form of escape in my daily allowance of exercise. While Mrs Dalloway was witnessing a changing England that was coming to terms with what had taken place in the world war, I was also likewise trying to come to terms with a changing England that was battling with a catastrophic global pandemic.
Yet, while this book doesn’t sound like one that would put a spring in my step, especially with the darkest scenes that I’ll refrain from spoiling, the hope in it still persisted through. The overarching message is that, with life changing, and death happening all around us, we should focus on the beauties of life and make the most out of the colourful intricacies of the world all around us, that spring also tends to remind us all of.
You can almost feel the crispness of the air and hear the insects buzzing by as you follow Gabriel in his pursuit of love
Another book I think is a good read for this time of year is Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, which was another book I read for the first time at the start of pandemic last year. This book follows a farmer called Gabriel as he becomes introduced to a farm-owner under the name of Bathsheba whom he begins to fall in love with. While being released in 1874, and written by a man, the book could be seen as perpetuating patriarchal ideas of women in the way she has to pick between three very different men, but there are also sections where the book has feminist ideas routed within it, like his other novel Tess of the D’Urbivilles did. We see a strong female character, who owns her own land and takes pride in her abundance of authority, which is something rarely seen in Victorian literature, especially with male authors.
But, one of the defining characteristics of this book is the way in which Hardy describes nature. The book starts with us following Gabriel on his own farm where Hardy beautifully describes the growth and life of the fields, and this for me makes it perfect to read in spring. You can almost feel the crispness of the air and hear the insects buzzing by as you follow Gabriel in his pursuit of love.
Lastly, in spring one thing I enjoy doing, which may sound like I’m wishing my life away, is look forward to summer. For this reason, I also enjoy reading books that immerse me in the heat and joy of summer in anticipation. One book which I think is perfect for this is Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. This book follows two men as they slowly fall in love with each other over one summer in northern Italy.
While this book definitely left me crying towards the end, it also filled me with such happiness due to its immersivity. The way Aciman places you into Italy and makes you feel like you are actually there observing these people is unmatched. From the long bike rides to the hot nights under the moon watching the sea roll in, this book left me craving the summer and the longer, more excitable days that follow, which I believe, if read now, will only be enhanced by the hope of Covid restrictions being lifted.
I think these three books can successfully help you appreciate spring, or if that fails, look forward to summer where our lives will hopefully be back to some normality. To me, spring represents a fresh start, and a cause for optimism, as well as new life. That, I’m sure, can only be complimented by a book that truly understands the season.