11 books that are better in the spring.

11 books that are better in the spring.

What makes a good springtime read? I wasn’t thinking of a good book you could stuff in your beach bag for spring break (although you could certainly do that with most of these).

Instead, I had in mind themes that coincide with earth’s bursting to life after a long, cold winter: books about renewal and rebirth, about second chances and making things new.

Choose a good book (or six) from this list for your springtime reading, but don’t worry if you can’t get to everything that strikes your fancy this season. In the words of Anne Shirley, “That is one good thing about this world … there are always sure to be more springs.”

Series: 11 Books That Are Better in the Spring
All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small

Author:
The first in Herriot's autobiographical series about life as a country vet in Northern England. When Herriot lands a position with an eccentric owner of an existing veterinary practice at the tender age of 23, he learns to treat the animals that popular Yorkshire farms—which also involves a good bit of care for their colorful owners. A delightful collection that's easy to read one short story at a time. More info →
The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

Author:
A. A. Milne said that while the merits of most books are debatable, "one does not argue about The Wind in the Willows." This is the story of four stubbornly loyal friends: river-loving Mole and Ratty, infuriating (but lovable) Toad, and wise Badger. A tale of friendship, loyalty and mapcap adventures. Exuberant, joyful, and full of fresh air. More info →
A Room with a View

A Room with a View

Author:
In the springtime, you just can’t beat a book that turns on a stolen kiss in the Italian countryside. It’s widely believed that the movie is better than the book, but that’s no excuse not to read this slim novel about the awakening of sheltered Englishwoman Lucy Honeychurch (who is definitely in the running for Most Adorable Name in Literature) at the hands of an Englishman with little regard for convention. More info →
Middlemarch

Middlemarch

Author:
Eliot’s hefty masterpiece combines her “study of provincial life” with a close look at several young couples who fall (or think they fall) in love. Who will find lasting happiness, and who won’t, and why? By focusing on the narrow disappointments and particular joys of this small community, Eliot cuts to the heart of human nature. A novel about love, happiness, and second chances. More info →
Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass

Author:
Whenever I think of Leaves of Grass, I picture Wynona Rider-turned-Jo March quoting Whitman’s “new” volume in the 1994 movie Little Women. If you haven’t touched poetry since high school, pick up Whitman’s earthshaking 1855 collection, which oozes with freshness and optimism. Starting points: “Song of Myself,” “Song of the Open Road,” “I Sing the Body Electric.” Highly controversial in 1855: read it and decide for yourself. More info →
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author:
In Simonson’s 2004 novel, a widower who was raised to believe in propriety above all falls hopelessly in love with someone who is completely wrong for him—at least by the standards of his small English village. A winsome story with an unlikely hero. More info →
Persuasion

Persuasion

Author:
Don't bother starting at the beginning with Austen's earlier, brighter works. Go straight to her sixth and final published novel—which admittedly made the fall reading list for its darker and more serious themes—is a story of old love and second chances, which makes it perfect for spring. And if you want to read Austen twice in one year, I'm certainly not going to stop you. More info →
The Precious One

The Precious One

Taisy Cleary hasn’t seen her father in 17 years. After he survives a heart attack, he summons her to write his biography (The Thirteenth Tale, anyone?), and Taisy is plunged back into her past, giving her the opportunity to write past (and current) crucial mistakes. Not my favorite de los Santos work, but the gorgeous writing and Middlemarch references keep it on my “worthwhile” list. More info →
A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life

Author:
After her father dies, Molly Wizenburg doesn’t know what to do with herself—so she goes to Paris, and later, starts a blog. This memoir will make you laugh, cry, check airfare to Paris, and dream about chocolate croissants. Any book that begins with a death and ends with a wedding is spring reading material. More info →
Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Author:
“Nothing ever seems impossible in spring, you know.” Anne Shirley has a well-documented and recurring case of spring fever, and you’ll have a hard time not catching it—whether you’re reading this series (and do read the whole series) for the first time or the hundredth. More info →
The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

A spoiled, loveless orphan and a coddled, cantankerous invalid bring a forgotten garden—and each other—to life again in this childhood classic. The themes of rebirth and renewal—and the literal spring that blooms before their eyes in their secret garden—make spring the perfect time to revisit this book, or read it for the first time, as I just did. More info →

What’s on your spring reading list?

books that are better in spring

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31 comments

  1. I just added A Homemade Life to my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendation! I would add Emily of New Moon or any other of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series. I love Anne, but Emily resonates with me at a deeper level. And, her love of spring and the poetry associated with it make it a lovely spring read.

  2. Kelsi Messer says:

    SO many of these are on my TBR for this year:
    -The Wind in the Willows
    -Persuasion
    -Middlemarch
    -The Secret Garden
    -Anne of Green Gables series (I am embarrassed to admit I have never read these, even though I know I will love them

    I’m going through and binging your podcast and just added A Homemade Life to my TBR list as it was recommended in a previous podcast!

  3. Amanda says:

    I am reading the Anne of Green Gables series aloud to my twelve year old daughter. We are on Anne of the Island. It is like taking a trip back in time…and springtime is the perfect time for Anne (though any time truly is!).

  4. Gretchen says:

    I just added A Homemade Life to my TBR list too! I still have my childhood hardbound book of The Secret Garden. All Creatures Great and Small is another one of my favorites too. It reminded me of my all time favorite dog book, Lad: a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. It was written in 1919 and was based on the adventures of the his rough Collie.

  5. Laura-Lee Nelson says:

    I read The Enchanted April every spring, and now you’ve reminded me of others I want to re-read during this season. A great list! Thank you!

  6. Michelle says:

    Wonderful list! Wind in the Willows is currently a ‘free listen’ on Prime Audible under ‘For All Generations’. I had never read Anne of Green Gables and snapped that up when you had it listed a couple of weeks ago on the MMD kindle deal of the day (ebook and audible). Rachel McAdams is just wonderful!

  7. Keri says:

    My spring reading list includes Absent in Spring (an Agatha Christie written under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott) & Watership Down.

  8. Stephanie says:

    For some reason I always get a serious itch to read Pride & Prejudice (again) every spring! Maybe it’s all of Elizabeth’s sunny, English countryside walks?

  9. Jennifer N. says:

    I just wrapped up “Anne” on Audible (the version narrated by Rachel McAdams) and I had forgotten how much I loved the character Anne. Even at my age, I admire her courage in being unapologetically Anne. I agree that this is a great spring read. The Secret Garden was a favorite of mine as a child – I really need to revisit that one. My brother and I watched the movie so many times we could repeat the lines verbatim.

  10. I have a few of these classics unread on my shelves. I don’t always do as well as I would like with seasonal reading — I was still reading some Christmas books at the end of January, had some great ideas for fall and then fall was gone in what felt like a blink, and I’m still working on a winter collection as we reach the very end of the season…) but I hadn’t really even thought about spring reads! I think I’ll try to make a point of at least reading one though 🙂

  11. Susan in TX says:

    I think anything by Beverley Nichols is perfect for springtime reading. His struggles with his houses and gardens are a never ending source of entertainment. If you’ve never read him, start with either Down the Garden Path or Merry Hall – both are the first in their respective trilogies. British humor/memoir — add a glass of iced tea, let the spring birds be your background music, and enjoy — how could you go wrong? 🙂

  12. Kate says:

    I love Wind in the Willows! Such a spiritual book in many ways. I read C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy during Easter Week many years ago, so that book has always had a strong connection to spring in my memory.

  13. Susan Dix says:

    I am participating in a readalong on Instagram of Middlemarch. It’s my first time reading it and I’m loving it.

  14. I love Wind in the Willows!
    In spring, I tend to read lots of gardening and nature books. I’ve really enjoyed The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart and her Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs series.

  15. Guy Austin says:

    Thanks for the Post – Ordered Anne of Green Gables. My daughter will love it. we read The Secret Garden together, We will read this together as well. (I have never read it either)

  16. Darcey says:

    Another book I love to re-read in the spring is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. One of my all time faves!

  17. Mairsydoats says:

    Oh, you gave me the biggest laugh. I think I found my category of fiction! Mostly I read non-fiction, but 8 out of these 11 are favorites. I guess I’m a spring fiction girl!

  18. Caitlin Mallery says:

    I am reading Middlemarch for my over 600 pages book. When I am done are there any good film adaptations?

  19. Just purchased James Herriot’s Treasury for Children for my 4 year old daughter. We have only read the first story so far but she seemed to like it, even with the outdated, unfamialiar language and turns of phrase. I wasn’t sure if she would be able to hang through that but so far so good.

  20. Dana says:

    Loved Homemade Life. I have read it twice. Of course Anne of Green Gables is one of the best books ever. That is on my re-read list for this year. I can never decide if I want to be Anne, Scout or Hermione when I grow up! Loved Major Pettigrew as well. Secret Garden is also on my re-read list for this year. I re-read Tom Sawyer last year. Middlemarch has been on my TBR pile for a while. Need to move it up in the stack.
    I am reading The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gotschall at the moment. Great insight into how humans are wired for story. Next I am going to tackle Lincoln in the Bardo.

  21. Marilyn says:

    You can never go wrong with any of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books. “Marigold”and the Pat series are two more of Ms. Montgomery’s books.
    Marilyn

  22. Theresa says:

    Love your list. Having read half of them I had such pleasant memories seeing them on the list and recalling them. Especially James Herriot. Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Jane Austin. Oh, what good friends they are. Going to check out several others you recommended that I have not read. Especially, A Handmade Life. Thanks for the suggestions. And just when I needed another book.

  23. Mary McKnight says:

    As I scrolled through the list, I smiled as I came upon titles I’d read, because, yes, they are each wonderful at any time, but definitely better in Spring. Thank you for the reminder and recommendations!

  24. Emmalina says:

    Annually, at the earliest signs of bulbs emerging from the dark earth, I return to The Secret Garden. There is nothing more magical than this Spring transformation. Anne of Green Gables (and often the whole series) is also pulled out every year at the first signs of cherry blossoms blooming along my own personal White Way of Delight. Truly these are the best Spring reads.

  25. Lori Church says:

    I noticed many of these are classics. When I first clicked on here, I wondered if I’d see any Debbie Macomber or Sheila Roberts.
    I really like the look of the site. I merely dabble with my faith-based site: sanityinthewaiting.com.
    I enjoyed meeting the mother in law at Fairfield Womens club.
    I will drop by here again….

  26. Joy says:

    Great list! Just yesterday we finished listening to The Secret Garden. I loved that book as a child, and I was curious how my kids would enjoy it (girl–9, boy–6, boy–3) and was so gratified at how quickly they jumped into the story and were quite mesmerized and excited by it. They started playing outside more, digging around in the yard, and even helped Daddy start a new veggie garden with great delight on Saturday 😍.

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