I associate spring with a sense of renewal and hope. Spring comes after a cold, hard winter, and as the weather turns warmer, I have a feeling of optimism and excitement for the future days. Flowers are budding, birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the world feels anew. Summer is the continuation of that warmth. All ten of these books bring me these same feelings.
This book tells the story of a Parisian bookseller named Jean Perdu, who runs a bookshop on a boat in the Seine River. Perdu is famous for giving customers the perfect books to soothe their souls from whatever is troubling them but is unable to fix his own broken heart. One day, he discovers a letter from his long-lost love that had been forgotten for 20 years and he decides to sail down the Seine River to find closure and a new sense of purpose. Along the way, he meets eccentric people who help him on his journey of self-discovery. It’s an Odessey-esque book that explores themes of love, loss, and the healing power of literature.
This novel is set in South Carolina in the 1960s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The audience trails the journey of a young girl named Lily Owens who is haunted by her mother’s death and yearns to find a home where she truly belongs. After escaping her abusive father, Lily finds a bee-keeping farm which becomes her haven. The three beekeeping sisters teach her about the art of beekeeping and help her explore the painful details of her past. “The Secret Life of Bees” is an uplifting and touching novel that celebrates one’s resilience and the power of love to transform lives.
This novel is a modern retelling of the classic novel “Little Women.” It is set in the present day and follows the lives of four sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy- as they navigate their way through early adulthood. It is set in springtime and is a heartwarming take on a beloved classic that celebrates the themes of sisterhood and familial love. I won’t spoil too much but it’s a wonderful read if you enjoyed “Little Women.”
“The Enchanted April” is a novel set in 1920s England and Italy during the springtime. The story begins with four women who are all, for a variety of reasons, feeling unfulfilled with their lives in London. Lotty Wilkins, an optimistic and romantic woman, sees an advertisement for a castle for rent in Italy and decides to take the chance and invite three other women to join her. The four women are initially acquaintances but as they spend more time in the gorgeous Italian countryside, they form unexpected bonds and rediscover themselves. Lotty is delighted by the beauty of the gardens and encourages the others to release their anxiety and enjoy the pleasures of life. Rose Arbuthnot is initially reserved but is gradually drawn out of her shell by the warmth and kindness of the locals. Lady Caroline Dester, a popular beauty and socialite, is seeking escape from the socialite lifestyle and finds herself falling in love with the castle’s owner, Mr.Briggs. Lastly, Mrs.Fisher, a widow and self-proclaimed expert on Italian culture, is initially critical of the other woman but loosens up to the beauty of the countryside. The novel is both a celebration of the beauty around the women and an exploration of the inner lives of the characters.
Her story takes place in 1890s Louisiana, within the upper-class Creole society.
The story follows the journey of Edna Pontellier, a young mother and wife who becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her everyday life and the restrictive gender roles of her society. Edna and her family decide to take a vacation on Grand Isle at a pension, a sort of boarding house where each family has their own cottage but eats together in a main dining hall. Also staying at the pension is the Ratignolle family; Madame Ratignolle is a close family friend of Edna’s, even though they have strikingly different philosophies and attitudes on child-rearing. Unlike Edna, Madame Ratignolle is perfectly content with being a wife and mother and nothing more. In contrast to her is Mademoiselle Reisz, a brilliant pianist also vacationing on the Isle. Mademoiselle Reisz is known for her brutal opinions of others, however, she takes a liking to Edna. She awakens Edna’s passion for life and triggers a process of personal discovery Edna takes that summer. Edna is conflicted between exploring herself and remaining the perfect “mother-woman” to her family. The novel explores themes of self-discovery, individuality, and the limitations women in high society faced. There is another aspect of Edna’s story but you’ll have to read the book to find out!
The novel follows the story of a young woman named Victoria Jones, who grew up in the foster care system and struggled to connect with others due to her troubled past. In order to communicate with the outside world, Victoria utilizes her extensive knowledge of the Victorian language of flowers which assigns meaning to different types of flowers. The novel is divided into two alternating timelines: one that explores the present, in which Victoria is a young adult struggling to define herself in this big world, and the past, which shows her experiences in the foster care system which explain her personality today. As the story unfolds, Victoria is hired to work in a flower shop and is drawn towards the shop owner, Grant. As her feelings for him deepen, she confronts the painful memories and traumas of her past and gradually learns to heal with the help of Grant and other friends she’s made. Victoria learns to come to terms with her own identity and embrace the language of flowers to express her emotions.
This novel tells the story of two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who fall in love despite their battle against cancer. Hazel, the narrator of the story, spends most of her free time reading books and attending a support group for other cancer patients. At one of these meetings, she meets Augustus, a witty and entertaining young man who has lost his leg to cancer but is now in remission. The two quickly bond over their shared love of a novel called “An Imperial Affliction,” which sparks a bittersweet teenage romance. As their relationship deepens, Hazel and Augustus travel to Amsterdam to meet the author of “An Imperial Affliction,” hoping to find answers to life’s big questions. Along the way, they confront their own mortality and the fragility of life. The novel balances the heavy subjects matter with moments of hope and poignant memories.
This historical fiction novel explores the life of Binh, a Vietnamese cook who works for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in their Parisian home during the 1930s. Binh is struggling to find his place in the world as a Vietnamese immigrant living in a foreign land. He grapples with his own identity, sexuality, and cultural belonging. The novel is told in a non-linear fashion, with chapters jumping between different periods of Binh’s life. We learn about Binh’s childhood in Vietnam, his journey to France, and his relationship with various people. We also see how Binh is influenced by the political and social events occurring in France at the time, which include the rise of fascism and the Great Depression of France. This novel is probably the least “spring-like” novel of the ten, however, the prose is rich and lyrical. It weaves together the historical situation and fictional narrative to create a vivid story. Like the other books on this list, “The Book of Salt” explores self-identity and belonging, as well as the meaning of home and family. Also, it’s important to note that much of the novel centers around Binh’s cooking which serves as a complex metaphor for his life and Binh’s struggle to find his place in the world.
“The Green Road” is a family drama that tells the story of the Madigan family, a large and complicated Irish family that is brought together and pulled apart by the drama in their lives. The novel is divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a different member of the family. In the first section, the reader meets Rosaleen Madigan, the matriarch of the family, and her four children: Dan, Constance, Emmet, and Hanna. We watch Madrigan struggle with her own alcoholism and navigate through her complicated relationship with her children. In the second section, we follow Dan, Madrigan’s eldest child, as he struggles with his sexuality and his desire to become a priest. The third section focuses on Constance, the only daughter in the family, as she navigates her own desires in a society that doesn’t value them. The final section brings the family back together as they gather for a Christmas reunion in their hometown.
The novel tells the story of Prudencia Prim, a young woman who leaves her job in the city to take a position as a librarian in the small, picturesque village of San Ireneo de Arnois. At first, Prudencia has trouble adjusting to the slow pace of life in the village, and she feels out of place among the conservative and tradition-oriented villagers. Things change when Prudencia meets the charismatic Mr. Ayllon, a man who is different than any man she’s been romantically involved with. He questions her beliefs on life, religion, and the meaning of life. Through their conservations and debates, Prudencia begins to question her own beliefs and values and embarks on a journey of self-discovery that gives her a new understanding of herself. At the same time, Prudencia develops relationships with the other villagers and learns important lessons about community and the importance of connecting with others.