5 Good Books to Read in Spring
Sick of winter already? Try one of these great springtime reads—all set in a lush landscape, or about renewal and rebirth.
Spring is the season of rebirth. The winter snows are thawing, or if you live in a warmer climate, it’s finally time to take off that jacket. No matter where you live, it seems that almost everywhere, flowers are in bloom. So, celebrate the season by stocking up on good books to read about growth, renewal, or nature.
With the green season upon us, it’s time to take a walk in nature. While there are many novels that immerse readers in the outdoors, some of the best nature writing is nonfiction. The grandfather of nature writing is Henry David Thoreau. His seminal work, Walden, combines observations about the natural world near Walden Pond in Massachusetts with spiritual insights about the human condition. Other nature writers such as John Muir followed in his footsteps. Nature writing is more than just history or description. Good books about monumental hikes—like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild—have topped bestseller lists, and books like A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson mix nature, insight, and humor.
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Much of fiction, past and present, is preoccupied with its natural surroundings. Just mention “moors,” and your imagination jumps to Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë or The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Mississippi Delta calls to mind the steamboats of Mark Twain’s many tales. Most of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels, such as Animal Dreams and Prodigal Summer, tackle issues at the crux of man and nature, and Ann Pachett’s State of Wonder takes readers deep into the Amazon Rainforest.
With springtime, nature comes alive again. What better time find some good books to read about nature or set in lush, interesting surroundings? Find some about where you live and hike out to a shady reading spot, or take a mini vacation out into the wilderness with a book set in a faraway place. If you need more inspiration, try one of these five good books.
Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
If you loved Fates and Furies or Groff’s more recent short story collection, Florida, grab a copy of her earlier novel, Arcadia. Set in upstate New York in the 1960s, this novel revolves around a hippie commune and a young boy named Bit. The lush, bucolic setting will immerse you in springtime. What starts as an idyllic foray into natural living soon degenerates into a tragedy that Bit will never forget.
To buy: $10, amazon.com.
The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Victoria Jones has lived a life without the deep connections most of us take for granted. After growing up in foster care, she is now on her own. She sleeps in a park, occupying herself by planting a garden until a local florist takes her in to nurture her natural talent for growing things. In Victorian England, each flower had a different symbolic meaning. Victoria keeps this symbolism close to her heart, even after she finds a new way to speak.
To buy: $10, amazon.com.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
From the safety of their gated neighborhood in Bogotá, Columbia, the Santiago family believes they’re safe from the violence plaguing their country. But when the family hires a maid named Petrona, who lives in one of Bogotá’s most dangerous slums, the Santiago family begins to realize the lives outside their protected enclave are just as vivid and profound as their own. If you love the works of Isabel Allende or Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, pick up a copy of this stunning debut novel.
To buy: $18, amazon.com.
Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible, is back with a new novel that tackles some of the most important and widely debated questions of our time. Unsheltered follows Willa Knox, a middle-aged woman with s growing number of problems, not the least of which is the house she inherited, which seems to be falling apart. Amidst the turmoil of her boisterous and careworn family, Willa begins to research the old house where their lives have converged again. She discovers it belonged to a man named Thatcher Greenwood, who came under fire in 1880s for spreading dangerous ideas: the research of Charles Darwin. Kingsolver’s latest novel will challenge you to think critically about the world around you. You may also gain a newfound appreciation for the nature Darwin researched.
To buy: $20, amazon.com.
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The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean’s most famous work, The Orchid Thief, is a nonfiction book that plunges the reader into the world of orchids and John Laroche’s obsessive pursuit to clone the rarest orchid of all, the endangered ghost orchid. On his hunt for the prized orchid, Orlean dives into a subculture that’s completely obsessed with these flowers. She and Laroche trek through Florida swamps and meet Seminole Indians, who help him on his quest.
To buy: $14, amazon.com.