15 Apr Five Spring Reads
Temperatures are set to rise over the next few weeks – we could even be set for a 3-month heatwave – so what better excuse do you need then, to start reading? Below we have picked five books that are ideal fodder for those lazy Sundays spent sitting in the garden, getting stuck into a good book while topping up your tan…
BONJOUR TRISTESSE by Francoise Sagan
A classic, Bonjour Tristesse documents the louche life of an affluent teenage girl, Cécile. Author Françoise Sagan published the novel when she was only 18, which explains how she manages to portray 17-year-old Cécile so perfectly as the atypical, over-privileged teenage girl (sulky, scheming, vain…). Despite the rather cynical ending, this is a great, light read; set against the beautifully vivid backdrop of the Côte d’Azur, it will have you dreaming of a summer abroad, as well as reminiscing on your own experiences of adolescent ‘drama’ and naïveté. Available from Amazon.
THE HAUNTED LIFE by Jack Kerouac
Alas, Kerouac hasn’t miraculously risen from the ashes, but one of his lost manuscripts has emerged, resulting in the publication of The Haunted Life, which was published last month – 70 years after it was originally written. The story centres in on college student Peter, who is looking forward to spending a summer in his hometown being relatively idle. However, with WWII breaking out in Europe and his closest friends plotting to explore the world, he realises that he has had a somewhat sheltered upbringing, and this novella focuses on coming-of-age themes, internal struggles and friendship in Massachusetts. Available from Amazon.
ONCE IN A HOUSE ON FIRE by Andrea Ashworth
Some of the stories Andrea Ashworth tells of life in working-class 1970s Manchester, with an abusive stepfather and drunken mother, are so shocking that it’s hard to believe that Once in a House on Fire is an autobiographical work. This is the sort of book that sticks with you long after you’ve put it down; this is partly due to Ashworth’s excellent memory, as she captures a depressed era perfectly, recounting minor details that build up a vivid picture of her childhood. A truly inspiring story that proves that, despite a turbulent start in life, you can turn things around – in Ashworth’s case, this translates to getting into Oxford University and writing a beautiful book. Available from Amazon.
THINGS THE GRANDCHILDREN SHOULD KNOW by Mark Oliver Everett
Some people (myself included) fail to finish celebrity autobiographies as they have the tendency to be vanity-driven, shallow affairs. I read Morrissey’s autobiography recently and the flowery language distracted me from an otherwise interesting story. Everett, the frontman of the legendary band Eels, however, declares in the opening chapter, “I don’t want to waste your time with the flowery shit … I’m going to stick with the direct approach”. Excellent. This is a brilliantly gritty, inspiring book that everyone should read – being a fan of Eels’ music is not a prerequisite – and chances are you’ll be so absorbed by Everett’s writing style that you’ll devour the whole thing in one sitting. Available from Amazon.
I WROTE THIS FOR YOU by Iain Thomas
To finish, something less conventional. I Wrote This for You is a collection of work taken from Iain Thomas’ much-hyped blog of the same name. It is divided into four chapters, each serving a different purpose, with assorted musings on beginnings, endings, love and loss – all familiar feelings to everyone, which is why readers pick up the book and feel like it was written personally for them. If you’ve just had your heart broken, keeping some Kleenex nearby is advised, but although the words are sentimental, this book – partly a selection of poems, partly a story, partly a work of art – will leave you feeling enlightened and inspired. Available from Amazon.
Written by Grace Howard.