We love a spring reading list. It’s a time of hope, new beginnings and it’s a time for making plans. These things will resonate with most of us more than ever this year.
With the roadmap out of lockdown firmly in mind, we need an eclectic reading list that caters for our biggest emotions. A bundle of books that are reflective, immersive and compelling are in order.
What should I read this year?
Moody and compelling, there’s nothing about Summerwater that will settle the soul, but it will make you feel extremely thankful for your cosy spot at home.
Set in the Scottish Highlands, the book takes us through a rain-drenched window in an isolated backwater. With no mobile reception, the makeshift band of cabin dwellers watch each other through the curtains.
Unsettling in the extreme, this isn’t a book full of fast action and jump scares, but it gives you one mighty payoff, and it’s so immersive, we guarantee you’ll be hooked from the start.
With an unreliable narrator and a deeply emotive subject, The Push explores the dark side of motherhood, postnatal mental health and the bond between mother and child.
Perhaps most disturbing are the themes around being believed as a mother. We walk a mile in Blythe Connor’s shoes in this novel. She believes there is something wrong with her firstborn, Violet, yet no one, including her husband, listens.
Spiralling through the layers of complexity, we as readers find ourselves in a disorientating tale and a quest to find out what is happening to Blythe and her baby.
First step, follow Charlotte Plain’s Instagram account @princess.planning. Second step, get a copy of this book and start looking forward to a brighter, and well-planned 2021.
I know, sometimes you need to stop all the planning and thinking and get lost in a good book. Other times, you need a good book about planning to get your thoughts in order. Charlotte Plain helps you do just that, with her practical tips to help you get organised and stay positive.
Does anyone feel like being liberated from the confines of their lives and modes of thinking? I know I could do with some pointers right now. Soulbbatical by Shelley Paxton was top of my reading list for that reason.
Throughout the book, Paxton reveals why she stepped away from her 26-year long career to reframe her life. Less about “finding herself” in the wildly vague sense, and much more about getting to grips with the realities thrown at us, this is a read that will change your perspective for the better.
It’s about being imperfect, making mistakes, and accepting them. It’s funny, tragic, and real. And it’s worth a read for all those things and more.
If you’re wondering where the laughs are in this selection, look no further than Beth O’Leary’s latest novel, The Road Trip.
Imagine this, breaking up with your partner, then both travelling to a wedding at the other end of the country in the same car. And all because you crashed into his in the first step of the journey.
This imagined scenario is played out by characters Addie and her ex, Dylan. As a result, they have to share a car for what may be the longest, and funniest journey to a wedding imaginable. Joined with Addie’s sister and Dylan’s friend, this is a car crash of a situation, but it’s a masterpiece of a light read.
This is a cheeky one because this novel was published in 2017. So, why is it on the spring 2021 reading list? Well, if any Netflix viewers are here, you may have noticed the TV series based on the novel on there, by the same name. Acclaimed by geniuses like Stephen King, this is a modern classic that should be on the reading list of any lover of psychological fiction.
Packed with twists and turns, this story takes you to the most unexpected places. Be prepared to spend the entire read scrambling to work out what’s happening as you dip into Louise, David and Adele’s lives.
Louise is a single mother, and David and Adele are a married couple. But as their lives intertwine, we discover that not all is as it seems. Read it, watch the show on Netflix, and get ready for shocks and thrills galore.
A companion piece to Ijeoma Oluo’s first book So You Want To Talk About Race, Mediocre is a fascinating deep dive into American culture and racism. These discussions couldn’t be more timely, and they are not reserved to American culture alone wither.
Read it to understand how the white male has dominated societies like ours for so many decades, and what the experience is like for anyone who doesn’t fit that mould. Where her first novel explores the hidden histories, gender and race, this book goes one step further.
Provocative and exceptionally researched and written, this is an eye-opener and an important conversation for anyone interested in modern society and the backlash against white imperialism.
In addition to creating our own list, we spoke to several fellow book lovers, including Uju Asika, who told us: “One of the benefits of lockdown for me was getting back into a reading habit. In 2021, I set myself a challenge of reading 21 books and smashed it. For 2022, I’m reading 22 books and 22 scripts. Ijeoma Oluo’s book Mediocre has been on my tbr list as she’s such a powerful voice in the anti-racist space. I’m also keen to read The Push. I just finished The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante which was compelling but disturbing and another one in the ‘complex motherhood narratives’ vein is The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. It’s exciting to have so many more stories illuminating the varied and untold experiences of women and what it means to be a ‘good mum’.”
Jill Doyle, from the Jill's Book Cafe blog, added: "My Spring reading has been a mix of upbeat and feelgood, mixed in with my characteristic quirky, and criminal reads. I've already read several books that I know will feature in my top books of the year.
"I started the year with a nostalgic, humorous and heartbreaking coming of age tale, All the Fun of the Fair by Caroline Hulse and, with a main character at the opposite end of the age spectrum, Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons was a lovely read. I've enjoyed several historical reads including The Visitors by Caroline Scott and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.
"Meanwhile, the quirky, crime caper Exit by Belinda Bauer was a pleasurable counterbalance to my more traditional crime titles. As I spent the festive period binging on Christmas themed feel good/romantic titles I've not felt able to leave the love behind just yet and satisfied my romantic cravings with The First Time we Met by Jo Lovett and A Place to Begin Again by Kate Field among others. As this year is also the year I'm trying to catch up with my extensive reading mountain, my titles are a mix of old and new."