11 Books That Are Better in the Spring

A Homemade Life
After her father died, Molly Wizenburg didn’t know what to do with herself. So she went to Paris, and later, she started a blog. No spoilers here, so let’s just say I especially loved hearing about how the internet introduced the author to new, life-changing relationships. This memoir made me laugh, cry, check airfare to Paris, and curse my low carb diet. Completely and utterly charming, accompanied by tasty recipes.
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Pride and Prejudice should be read in the spring; Emma in the summer. But Persuasion is for fall. This the last novel Austen completed before her death, and it’s darker and more serious in tone than her earlier works. With its themes of love, regret, and fidelity, this is my favorite Austen novel—at least some of the time. But always in autumn.
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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.
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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.
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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. (It's worth saying: the movie version is FANTASTIC.)
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.