“Spring” back into reading: The post-winter reading list

Browse By

The so-called “Beast From the East” brought snowfall across Britain and, predictably, we were caught off guard: raiding our local supermarkets for supplies, covering up in lots of layers, braving the harsh temperatures for some exuberant sledging but also being cursed with the inevitable Wi-Fi issues because our technology cannot cope as soon as the temperature goes even slightly outside its own comfort zone.

Now that the snow storm has passed, you may be left wondering what to do with yourself. The answer is astoundingly simple – it’s entirely down to books! So, here are my handpicked choices of what you can read to pick yourself up now we’re leaving winter and heading into spring.

Mythos: Steven Fry 

Mythos is a fantastic introduction to Greek Myths for those who aren’t familiar with the stories themselves. Fry narrates these myths as if they were being told orally – a very effective and accessible method which is respectful to the background of the stories themselves. He makes them more interesting by interweaving the myths with subtle nods to how they have left an impact on modern day culture – without having to have an aggressive onslaught of footnotes to explain himself (they are still there – but only for additional points of interest and don’t intrude on the stories themselves). Perhaps what’s most impressive is the fact he does all this without sounding patronising to his readers. So, now the onslaught of snow has dissipated, open up this one and give it a read; see how the gods feuded over relationships and myths of warriors and monsters, as opposed to treading carefully among the waterlogged streets.

Pandora opening the box which lets out the evils of the world

Seconds: Bryan Lee O’ Malley

This adorably drawn graphic novel is full of heart and set in snowy Canada, making it a reflective way to send off winter. The plot concerns Katie, the owner of a successful restaurant: Seconds – though currently she is not happy with her life and aims to open up a new restaurant downtown. When she is given mysterious mushrooms and a notepad by a spirit named Liz, which allows her to write down her mistakes and prevent them from occurring – she plunges into a world where she can take full control of her decisions, even if that power leads to adverse effects. The most striking feature of Seconds is its art style which is very Japanese Chibi-esque, an appealing choice when coupled with its bold red colours which really pop out at you. Add a character-driven, emotional story on top and we have a very pleasant read which commands a range of different reactions and emotions. It’ll certainly warm your emotions as we leave the cold behind.

Life of Pi: Yann Martel 

Being restricted to our homes may not have been the worst prospect for lots of us, but the isolation can lead us starting to feel brain-dead. Enter Yann Martel’s award-winning and thought-provoking piece. The allegorical story of a young Indian boy, Piscine Patel, being cast away on a lifeboat with a tiger mistakingly named Richard Parker, has become a classic on bookshelves which was adapted into an equally excellent film in 2012. While the premise is simple, the thought behind it is what carries the story. Martel hides intense meaning behind his characters and the journey they go through which allows much thought behind that which is read on a surface level. While film also succeeds in depicting these messages, the book crafts its narrative so that it is quite cinematic in itself, but with the added strength of fluent language which adds depth to its story – if you want some food for thought to re-engage your brain, here’s a good read to keep you occupied.

Fifty Shades of Grey: E.L. James

“Huh? I thought you slated this in the last article?” would be a reasonable response for this appearing on the list, yet in truth, Fifty Shades is such a magnificent disaster that as the bleakness of winter still hovers over us, the hilarity of it will have you leaving that bleakness behind. It doesn’t have the fluent writing of Mythos, the heart of Seconds or the depth of Life of Pi but, in fact, its absence of all these things is what makes it so entertaining, the laughable dialogue and description earns it a place on the “so bad its good” genre of media which is out there and, due to its simplicity, it could easily be read within the week. Unfortunately, the romance in it will likely bring back traumatic memories of the cold emptiness of winter, but that which is in between is massively entertaining and will make this weekend somewhat more bearable.

Now that winter finally seems to be departing but summer is still a far way off, now is the perfect time to relax indoors, bathe in the sunlight through the window and read a book, taking you to another world. Perhaps as winter turns to spring, books can help bridge this transitional period between seasons.