Last weekend, it didn’t rain. Not at all. Not even one drop. There was zero precipitation. The sun even put on a brief and frankly terrifying preview of what the weather might be like this summer: bright; warm; above 10 degrees. It was all too much, and I found myself eating outside for the first time since summer 2006 (this may be a small exaggeration. It was more like 2009). Halfway through my picnic – as I believe they’re called – a horrible realisation dawned: I hadn’t brought anything with me to read. Now, I don’t know about you, but this realisation generally tends to send me into a state of near-delirium. If it happens on the Tube, I will LITERALLY walk METRES to the end of the carriage to inspect a fragment of the Metro. But in the open air, there are no free newspapers, people. In the end, I was forced to have a nap. Tragic. To make sure a similarly horrible thing doesn’t happen to you over the next few weeks, I’ve drawn up a list of essential reads for the Spring. If you pop one of these in your handbag / man-bag, those balmy afternoons will be anxiety-free – and with a long Easter weekend coming up soon, there’s plenty of time to get into a great book.
If our weather isn’t quite doing it for you, then you might want to consider emigrating to Australia. But if reasons like “it’s cripplingly expensive” and “all my loved ones are here” prove too overwhelming, then allow the inhabitants of Barley Creek to transport you. In Lillipilly Hill (Text Classics, £8.99), Harriet Wilmot and her family leave dreary London for a new life in Oz. This is a sweet and adventurous novel, a perfect period drama with the heat turned up a few notches.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that period dramas aren’t for everyone, so how about some classic comic sci-fi? The brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (of Roadside Picnic fame)’s absurdist novella Definitely Maybe (Melville House, £10.99) features a scientist attempting to get on with his work, only to be interrupted by a series of escalating distractions. A fun read with a serious message about the efforts of authority to halt progress, this is a pinnacle of the genre.
There’s nothing like a warm sunny afternoon to get wrapped up in a crime novel, and we’ve got the perfect title for those of you hunting the next Precious Ramotswe. Murder at Cape Three Points (Soho Press, £18.99) is the latest gripping volume of Kwei Quartey’s crime series set in Accra, Ghana – highly recommended for fans of sun-dappled murder scenes.
And if you’re after something a little… odder for your Springtime reading, then look no further than Jeremy P. Bushnell’s The Weirdness (Melville House, £12.99), an immersive, strange and frequently hilarious tale of a deal with Satan. Readable but never lightweight, this is cult storytelling at its finest.
Finally allow me to point you in the direction of a particularly lovely graphic novel: The Walking Man (Fanfare, £14.99) by Jiro Taniguchi, a bucolic rumination on ordinary life, with a serene, minimalist narrative and pitch-perfect drawings in the ‘quiet-manga’ style. Join our unnamed hero as he stops to contemplate; hopefully you will get some time to as well.
All of these titles are available from Turnaround now or in the next few days, so whether you’re book buyer or book browser, make sure you don’t miss out on these Spring things.