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Top Books for Spring


Choosing books that reflect a season is tricky but I've come up with 6 books that remind of the wonderful parts about spring ---- renewal, warm weather, spending time outside, and growth. If you need a pick-me-up read, here are my top picks.


 

The Dirty Life is a memoir by Kristin Kimball who was a writer living in New York City when she interviewed a young farmer outside of the city and they quickly fell in love. While she knew nothing of growing vegetables, caring for animals, or the incredibly hard work that goes into sustaining a farm, she agreed to leave NYC and join her new boyfriend on his quest to buy land and turn it into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.


I know ---- this sounds like the plot of a charming Hallmark movie, but Kimball gives the gritty details of the difficult yet rewarding life of a farmer. She paints a vivid picture of her everyday life, down to the color and flavor of the crops, and the tools and techniques they use. The book reflects the first year of her relationship and the farm, breaking it up by season. She explains the obstacles and themes of each season and what is most important to accomplish, even though the work of a farmer is never-ending. Kimball breathes such animated life into her words that I felt like I was there with her.


My only qualm with this book was that I wished it was longer because I absolutely loved living in her world. If you're looking for the perfect spring book that will make you wish you could also fall in love with a farmer, raise chickens, grow crops, and spend the majority of your time on your feet and outside (wait, was that just me?), I couldn't recommend this book enough.

 

When I was brainstorming books for this post, the first one that popped in my head was this children's classic. It completely embodies the themes of spring like growth, renewal, beauty, and blossoming. I've reread it as an adult and am still so in awe of the magic and charm of this book.


Published in 1911, The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox, a little girl who loses her parents to sickness in India and is given over to the care of her curmudgeon uncle. Mary was spoiled by neglectful parents and is introduced to the story as an ill-tempered, selfish girl. However, when she discovers a secret garden in her uncle's large estate that is in ruins, she begins to work on the garden to bring it back to life, thus learning the value of hard work and patience. She shares the secret garden with her crippled cousin, who gains strength by being outdoors and also cultivating the garden. Both children find solace and vitality in their work, showing how physical work and sunshine can bring healing.


Although this book is a children's classic, it still instills a sense of wonder, magic, and the itch to go outside and build something, no matter what age the reader.

 

Surprise, Elizabeth Gilbert has written more than just the controversial Eat, Pray, Love. I've actually read the majority of her books and I do think she is a talented writer. This book in particular is a favorite of mine. Gilbert gives an in-depth look at the fascinating life of Eustace Conway, an American naturalist living in the woods of North Carolina.


Conway lives his life on the fringes of society, with little technology and a heavy reliance on nature and his own two hands. There are obvious Into the Wild influences, but what I love most about this memoir is that it moves beyond the details of Conway's naturalistic life (which are captivating on their own), and looks into modern masculinity. What does it mean to be a man in today's society, what do we expect of men, and what do they expect of themselves? I think many of us reminisce on this idea of a dying out 'mountain man,' someone whose livelihood depends on his physical capabilities and who has a desire to live off just the basics and as close to nature as possible. However, Gilbert shows that there are outdated convictions that can accompany this idolized character, many of which are shown through Conway's complicated and failed relationships with women.


Regardless of the patriarchal questions of 'the good ole days,' this book made me miss my days in the Colorado mountains where I spent the majority of my work and personal life outside. There is something rewarding from physical labor (I was a zip line guide a few years ago), a feeling you don't get from sitting on a computer all day. If you're looking for a story that will inspire outdoor adventure, try this one out.

 

I spoke in-depth about this new favorite in my January 2020 Wrap-up. I adore this book and now recommend it to almost everyone I know.


This multi-generational novel dives deep into the Sorenson family, a suburban Chicago family with four daughters. The book jumps back and forth between the years of 1970, when the parents Marilyn and David met, and the present day when all girls are fully grown with their own families. The story goes through each character's life, looking at the same situation from several perspectives.


I chose this book for a spring recommendation because I think it really beautifully develops the emotional growth of a family in suburban America. Lombardo has an amazing talent for writing about the messy and uncomfortable parts of life and love, and she is able to put emotions into words like few authors I've seen. I watched as each member of the Sorenson family struggled with their own demons, mess up many times, but inevitably emerge at the end with more empathy and understanding towards one another.


This story might be just what you need to find hope and renewal this spring season.

 

Evvie Drake Starts Over is about a woman named Evvie who loses her husband in a car accident, although you learn early on that she had intended to leave him on the day she finds out he has passed. She carries guilt, shame, and sadness with her for two years, unable to forgive herself. In walks Dean, a former New York Yankees pitcher, who has been struggling with "yips" and is unable to throw on the level he used to and he banishes himself to Evvie's small Maine town. The two become friends as they share their struggles with one another and of course, inevitably fall for each other.


I loved both Evvie and Dean, and Holmes created a world I easily slipped into, describing the characters' mundane, everyday lives in a beautiful and engrossing way. The characters felt relatable, and their emotional reactions to their circumstances made sense to me. There is something about a book that puts detail into the small things, like the color of the coffee cup or the way a character uses their hands to describe something, that makes a book feel wonderfully realistic and tangible. It was easy to get lost in Evvie and Dean's story and I was left feeling warm, hopeful, and content, which is how I also feel about the spring season.


If you're a fan of contemporary romance, or if you just want to get absorbed into a good love story and forget about your own life, I definitely recommend Evvie Drake Starts Over.

 

A little background on this book: I lived in NYC for a time after college. While I love NYC and it will always hold a special place in my heart, I was miserable living there. I started to despise the skyscrapers and their grey hues, my crowded commute on the subway, the lack of any greenery, and the constant noise and lights. I missed open space, trees and rivers, being able to see the stars at night, and I felt exhausted and burnt out. I happened to come across The Nature Fix in my attempts to cure my nature ache, and while it was not available at the library, I decided to buy it on a whim and downloaded it onto my Kindle. I distinctly remember reading the majority of this book on my subway commutes, finding revelation and refuge in the author's conclusion that humans need nature like we need water and oxygen.


This book is a wonderful blend of historical research, ethnographic studies, and the author's personal experience. It dives into nature's psychological and emotional affects and how important greenery is to our well-being. Everyone has varying environmental needs, but after reading this book, I realized how important it is for me to have some kind of greenery around me at all times. I was so convinced of nature's ability to heal all wounds that I decided to quit my NYC job and move out to Colorado to be a zip line guide for the summer. I'm not saying this route is for everyone, but I will say that it was one of the best summers of my life. Living in the Rocky Mountains, being on my feet outside everyday in the sunshine, and camping and hiking to my heart's desire really did heal me. While my path has inevitably led me to my wonderful life in DC (which does a much better job at fulfilling my nature needs than NYC did), I now know that I need to get out into nature as often as I can, especially when I feel stressed or claustrophobic.


This book shows what humans can do to build a future that incorporates more nature, and what we can all do on an everyday basis to fill our nature needs.

 

If none of these recommendations pique your interest, shoot me a message through the Personalized Recs page and I can recommend books based on what you specifically want.


Happy reading, y'all.

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