A few terms synonymous with spring would include sunshine, bloom, allergy season, and here in Vancouver: cherry blossoms. Along with spring also comes the dreaded (for some) task of spring cleaning. So get out those dusters and open the blinds. Perhaps you’ll stumble upon your bookcase as you power down the vacuum, either well loved or with a thin sheen of fine powder coating it. There are a few books you recognize, and others with their spines still uncracked. Maybe you, dear reader, are like this writer and have a list that extends for miles, detailing every novel you would read if you just had the time! Or perhaps you are simply looking for something to peruse as the grows greener, flower petals unfurl and bees buzz. Whatever the reason, here are five reads perfect for the springtime:
If You Leave Me, Crystal Hana Kim.
In Kim’s debut novel, set against the backdrop of the Korean War, she explores refugee life, and forbidden love. It is told in multiple perspectives, resulting in well developed characters and heartbreaking choices. Kim paints a picture of these characters rebuilding their lives, apt for spring which has always been reminiscent of rebirth, of reawakenings.
Bangkok Wakes to Rain, Pitchaya Sudbanthad
As the first season in the cycle, spring acts like a reset. TIme which slows and staggers through the viscose hours of winter returns with a skip in its step. Sudbanthand’s debut, Bangkok Wakes to Rain, weaves three separate timelines into one to tell the resilience of one country. Anyone from the tropics will know the only seasons are: hot, rain, less hot and yet, Sudbanthand evokes the aqueous atmosphere of Bangkok so beautifully, he creates a new definition of spring: one which washes away all past trauma.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng.
This title may be familiar to some, especially with the commissioned Hulu series starring Kerry Washington, and Reese Witherspoon. Ng’s novel is a slow burning character study rather than a plot driven narrative. She exposes the vulnerabilities of these characters, slowly unravelling their lives over the course of the novel so when the novel ends, it feels as if we know these characters like the back of our hand. What is most striking about this novel is its structure: it begins at the ending before working in reverse to the beginning. Spring, representing the beginning of a cycle, is often where stories begin; starting in reverse, the dead of winter per se, is a breath of fresh air.
Circe, Madeline Miller.
Those who have read Miller’s previous works will be familiar with her talent for historical retellings, a la The Song of Achilles. Circe is a story of love: love between lovers, but also the love of a mother, of family, and love for oneself. Miller takes a side character in The Odyssey and gives her a larger-than-life tale. Circe is a tale of healing, of discovering oneself and the magic within. Befitting for the springtime: the personification of a new beginning, a fresh start.
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Any book list, especially one curated by an English major, would be incomplete without at least one classic novel; something that would be found in a course syllabus. This is that offering. A childhood classic, a loveless orphan and a waspish invalid child bring a forgotten garden to life. The literal spring which blossoms to life in front of their eyes makes the springtime all too fitting to revisit this novel.