a window seat with a bunch of flowers and a feel good book

Has winter left you worn out? Turn over a new leaf for the season with these moving and uplifting spring reads – to awaken that bookworm within. 

With that distinctive blend of wood smoke and sunshine in the air, Easter is a time for rambling walks and garden egg hunts. And it’s also an invitation to catch up with our favourite books. 

Few things in life rival the simple joy of finding a book nook to escape to on a lazy Bank Holiday afternoon. Simply select your location (a sunny windowsill or garden hammock will do), turn off your phone and grab a cuppa, along with a chocolate egg or two (it’s Easter, after all). 

As for the books, well, we’ve pulled together a few recommendations to cheer in the new season with. The below reads are not purely rainbow territory; some touch on deep-rooted themes of loss, and even trauma. But they also delve into some of life’s finest ingredients: think friendship, humour and finding comfort in everyday pleasures. 

Most of all, they’re about hope and our collective ability to renew and grow together – just like spring itself. Dig in and enjoy: that book nook has your name on…

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

Buddhist monk and South Korean writer Haemin Sunim shares wisdom on our universal need for rest and calm in this soothing guide to life. Each chapter deals with a different challenge, from finding passion at work to creating meaningful friendships; with advice on how mindfulness can help with each. The beautiful illustrations are a further appeal to slow down in a world that worships fast. 

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The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

If period drama is your thing, take solace in the pre-war countryside setting of The Light Years – the first in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s widely popular Cazelet series. The story follows a large family as they reunite in their childhood home in Sussex for the summer, a few years before the outbreak of World War II. On the surface, this is an idyllic tale of afternoon tennis, high teas and picnics on the beach. But dig beneath the surface and all kinds of heartaches are starting to surface, from infidelity and same-sex relationships to a battle with PTSD. 

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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Few books can make you laugh and cry from one paragraph to the next, but Candice Carty-Williams’ Costa-shortlisted debut may just be one of them. Queenie is a London journalist and self-confessed “catastrophist” reeling in the face of a traumatic breakup. Hailed by some as “the Black Bridget Jones”, the novel – while frequently hilarious and relatable – actually goes far deeper than Helen Fielding’s 90s take on modern selfhood. Its depiction of a woman on the edge of a breakdown is painfully familiar for anyone who has faced similar struggles (a miscarriage, everyday racism, loss of home). But it’s really Carty-Williams’ portrayal of the enduring bonds of female friendship that deliver the feel-good lift. 

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Books, flowers and a bowl of cherries on a window sill

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is a conscientious young woman who lives a deeply lonely life. During the week, she holds down an office job with great efficiency, and at the weekend, she drinks vodka till she blacks out. Everything changes, however, when she crosses paths with IT worker Raymond, her kind yet hapless new colleague and unlikely hero. Gail Honeyman’s award-winning debut makes a gorgeous afternoon read, full of warmth and laugh-out-loud moments, tinged with profound sadness along the way. 

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Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley

Facing a gruelling battle with miscarriage and fertility issues, Brighton-based journalist Alexandra Heminsley finds her relationship with her body has radically changed. And sea swimming was the unexpected answer to that struggle; albeit not an easy one. This eye-opening memoir follows Heminsley’s journey as she learns to trust her body and still her mind in the open water; where joy, curiosity and knowledge awaits. A must for anyone who fancies trying wild swimming this year. 

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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman 

Anxious People is the latest gem from renowned Swedish author Fredrik Backman, and is every inch as quirky and heart-warming as you’d expect. When an affable bank robber takes a random group of people hostage at an open apartment viewing, no one is especially outraged. In fact, when police finally get to interview the witnesses, they all seem keen to protect the bandit – and it turns out, they all have more in common than first assumed. Published to rave reviews from critics, Anxious People delves into a human psyche with a gently comic look at the ties that bind us. 

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Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite 

Tahitian author Célestine Hitiura Vaite brings us a gorgeous portrait of womanhood in French Polynesia; as seen through the lens of a close knit mother-daughter relationship. Materena’s love for headstrong Leilani knows no bounds; but her daughter constantly challenges her. For all the worries that motherhood sparks, could it be that Lelani shows Materena a whole new way of being in a patriarchal world? The novel is named after Tahiti’s sweet-scented tree, with a story that is every bit as colourful and poignant as the flower itself. 

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April 14, 2022 — Anna Brech