If you’re looking for some new books to add to your reading list for spring, here are some suggestions based on books (both fiction and non-fiction) that I’ve been reading and enjoying lately – or that I plan to read soon:
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke: This – a fantasy / historical fiction / alternate history set in early nineteenth century England – is one of my favourite novels ever. It’s about magic and books and magicians and England and faerie and much, much more. Clarke is also an excellent writer. On this re-reading I was particularly struck by her portrayal of magic as a force or spirit that lives within the natural world – in the trees, hills, and rain – and how most people can no longer see or understand it. I love this book, but if you don’t like long novels (it’s around 1000 pages), footnotes (I adore footnotes), or a nineteenth-century style of writing, you may be best off avoiding this one.
- Once Upon a Flock: Life With My Soulful Chickens by Lauren Scheur: This is a memoir of a woman’s time spent keeping three backyard hens. It’s a relatively quick, light read, but the illustrations are charming and I enjoyed it, especially since we have three hens of our own. I’d recommend it if you have ever kept chickens or want to do so; Scheur doesn’t gloss over the more difficult and less appealing aspects, so I think this book might be a good introduction to what life with chickens is like.
- Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis: This is really one novel, though it’s published as two separate books, so be sure to have the second book on hand before you start the first. It’s an historical fiction / time travel set mainly in London during World War II. It’s very suspenseful, so I read both books very quickly, but I think that the constant high level of tension/suspense did get a bit tiring by the end. I still enjoyed it, though, and I’ll be looking for more books by Willis in the future.
- Tree: A Life Story by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady: I was reminded of this book when writing my post on the Douglas-fir, so I decided to start re-reading it. It’s a lovely book if you like trees and forests. Tree is focused on the life of a single Douglas-fir tree growing in the Pacific Northwest, but along the way the authors also explore forest ecology, the history of science, and the many ways in which humans have formed relationships with plants. It’s a good introduction to many different topics, and Suzuki and Grady explain complex concepts clearly, while always relating everything back to the single tree that is the focus of the book.
- Little, Big by John Crowley: One thing I love about reading is how one book inevitably leads you to another book. When I was re-reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I kept being reminded of Little, Big, so I think this is the novel I’ll be re-reading next. Like most of the novels I read, Little, Big is a rather odd book and one that doesn’t reveal all of itself on a single reading. I don’t remember many details from my first reading, so I’m looking forward to a second read.
- Blue Iris: Poems and Essays by Mary Oliver: Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets (her most well-known poem would probably be “Wild Geese”). I’ve borrowed a few collections of her poems from the library in the past, but I decided to buy this book because it contains poems focused on flowers and plants (and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a plant person). I haven’t started reading this book yet, since I’ve been saving it for just the right time. With spring coming and the plants beginning to grow again, I think that time will be soon.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What are you reading now? What’s on your reading list for spring?