15 of the best books to read in spring with fresh, optimistic vibes
I love all of the seasons, but there’s just something about spring… especially its fresh days, new life, and the optimism in the air.
Some part of it is probably because I grew up on a farm where spring meant crisp mornings, blossom on the trees, and lambs in the fields.
Now, living in Denmark, spring is what we look forward to all through the dark and drizzly winters (even if they’re hygge).
As with the seasonal books I’ve compiled in my winter and autumn posts, I think that some books just have a spring vibe.
In this post, I’ve compiled my favourite books that feel like spring for hopeful, optimistic, and rejuvenating reading.
Read on to replenish your spring reading list and find new bookish inspiration for what Tolstoy’s Levin calls the time for plans and projects…
The best books to read in spring to energize you after winter
Things to Look Forward To: 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Every Day by Sophie Blackall
Read Things to Look Forward To for… beloved author and Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall’s gathering of joyful everyday magic to reignite our hope and love for the world.
Big things, small things… one of the secrets of happiness is having things to look forward to.
With wisdom and whimsy, the 52 illustrated ideas in this book offer moments of hope, joy, and solace, whether you’re going through hard times or in excited anticipation of new beginnings.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Read Anne of Green Gables for… the perfect feel-good classic to read in spring.
“Everything is made new in the spring. Springs themselves are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring. It always has something of its own to be its peculiar sweetness.”
This beloved story of an orphan finding her place in the world is about fresh starts, second chances, and noticing the beauty of the world around us.
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Read The Garden of Small Beginnings for… a book that manages to be funny and heartwarming but also thoughtful and poignant, from the bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
As an intimate journey of a young mother moving on from grief, this quirky novel opens the door to Lilian Girvan’s life as an illustrator, parent, sister, budding gardener, and widow as she puts the pieces of her life back together.
A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell
Read A Country Year for… a stunning book about life on the land and a woman finding her way in middle age.
In this seasonal diary that runs from one spring to the next, Sue Hubbell has crafted a wonderfully peaceful book about living alone yet finding community with wildlife and country folk.
After her thirty-year marriage broke up, Sue Hubbell found herself alone and broke on a small Ozarks farm. However, as she found solace in the natural world, Sue began to understand and share what she cared most about in life.
Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May
Read Enchantment for… an enchantingly beautiful new book by Katherine May about how we can awaken our wonder and marvel at the world.
If Katherine May’s bestseller Wintering is about, well, winter, then her new memoir is about spring. Reading it feels like waking up after a long hibernation, stretching, and noticing that the spring bulbs are starting to appear.
Enchantment is full of gentle inspiration for when you feel directionless, exhausted, or out of tune with the world’s wonder and awe. I think it’s one of the best new memoirs to read in 2023.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Read The Wind in the Willows for… one of my favourite books about spring, beginning with the decision of a little Mole to spring clean his home.
“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”
After Mole decides to freshen up his home in this children’s classic, he soon grows exhausted and heeds the call of spring instead, heading above ground to enjoy the warm weather.
What follows is a celebration of Mole’s spring fever as he sets forth into the world with Mr. Toad, Badger, and Ratty in one of the most charming pieces of English literature.
Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
Read Sweet Bean Paste for… a delightful slice-of-life book that tells the story of Sentaro, a man who finds his way in life through an uplifting and unexpected friendship.
“’We were born in order to see and listen to the world.’ It’s a powerful notion, with the potential to subtly reshape our view of everything.”
Although Sentaro dreams of becoming a writer, he in fact has a criminal record, drinks too much, and spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling sweet bean paste pancakes.
But when he meets Tokui in springtime, an elderly woman with a troubled past, everything changes for both of these memorable characters. It’s a wonderfully uplifting story of friendship to read in spring.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Read The Enchanted April for… a book that just feels like a balm for the soul… it breathes fresh air, new opportunities, and new beginnings.
The Enchanted April is one of the books I recommend most here at Tolstoy Therapy. Pick up a copy and escape to a sun-kissed villa on the Italian Riviera with four middle-aged women seeking a change from dreary London.
The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs by Tristan Gooley
Read The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs for… one of the best starting points to pay more attention to our beautiful natural world.
In many of the places I’ve lived, the start of spring means the return of longer walks and hiking. What better time to pick up this beautiful guide to reading the signs and secrets of the natural world?
Tristan Gooley is my go-to recommendation for learning about the natural world as you head out into nature and hear the chatter of birds, notice the rustle of a deer in the forest, or observe a tree shaped by the wind.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Read Anna Karenina for… a book that isn’t without its darkness, but is also about renewal and rebirth.
“Spring is the time of plans and projects,” ponders Levin in this Russian classic. Pick up a copy and admire how Leo Tolstoy weaves an intricate labyrinth of connections in 1870s Russia, from high society St Petersburg to the country threshing fields in spring.
I’ve shared my advice on the best translations of Anna Karenina, but for the short answer, I’m a fan of Rosamund Bartlett’s version.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Read Pride and Prejudice for… the ultimate feel-good classic that’s perfect for rereading in spring.
Maybe it’s the familiarity of the book, or perhaps it’s the optimism and freshness of Longbourn, but there’s just something about Pride and Prejudice that makes it perfect for spring reading.
Retreat into the book’s pages for the first time or the fiftieth and feel your heart defrost after a long winter.
A Poem for Every Spring Day by Allie Esiri
Read A Poem for Every Spring Day for… a charming collection of the best poetry to read in spring.
“My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky“… If I had to choose a single poet to read in spring, it would be Wordsworth, but it’s also the perfect season to explore new writers.
This anthology feels like a breath of fresh spring air, offering a poem for every day of the season from celebrated poets including Maya Angelou, Wendell Berry, Lewis Carroll, and Margaret Atwood.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Read The Secret Garden for… one of the best sorts of children’s stories: a book that is just as wonderful for adults as children, offering an uplifting journey from darkness into light.
“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”… “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
For orphaned Mary Lennox, the gardens surrounding her uncle’s spooky house on the Yorkshire Moors are her only escape.
When she discovers a secret garden enclosed by walls and locked with a missing key – as well as two unexpected companions – she becomes determined to bring it back to life.
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
Read Late Migrations for… Margaret Renkl’s unusual, captivating portrait of family and the cycles of joy and grief that are part of all lives in the natural world.
When I find a book published by Milkweed Editions, my heart does a little dance. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees, and conjure the magic and astonishment to be found in what seems ordinary.
The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata
Read The Old Capital for… a perfect example of the ethereal and poetic prose of the Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata.
I love to read Japanese books in spring. The Old Capital is a beautifully-written story about Chieko, the adopted daughter of a kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.
Set in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, Chieko is troubled to discover the true facets of her past.
Complement this with The Sakura Obsession, Naoko Abe’s gorgeous non-fiction story of the improbable English eccentric who saved Japan’s beloved cherry blossoms from extinction.
Looking for even more books to read in spring? Enjoy these books about new beginnings, soothing books to remind you of the beauty of life, and cottagecore books to imagine a simple, cozy life in nature.
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
- I'm also the author of Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps, a book about my time living alone by the mountains.
- If you love books, are feeling a little lost right now, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, join The Sanctuary, my seven-day course to rebalance your life.