The 50 Best spring reads
Fed up of literary let-downs? From debut novels and political thrillers to delicious cookbooks and child-friendly histories, Sophie Morris and her panel of experts pick the season’s most brilliant new books
Friday 05 April 2013
Rebecca Armstrong is the features editor of The Independent
Janine Cook is eBooks promotions manager at Waterstones,waterstones.com
Jonathan Ruppin is web editor for Foyles, foyles.co.uk
Louise Yates writes the prize-winning Dog Loves… series. ‘Dog Loves Counting’ was published last month, £11.99, Jonathan Cape, louise-yates.com
“My favourite writer has probably written his finest novel,” says Jonathan. “Crace captures a moment in history, as enclosure brings about the collapse of village life as an ancient community unravels.”
“Science fiction for those who think they don’t like it,” says Jonathan, “written from the point of view of a journalist assigned to a groundbreaking space mission.”
“Set in 1976, the disappearance of a dependable husband draws his children together as they unpick the shocking truth of his past life,” says Jonathan.
“Two foster brothers offer their skills to the Taliban in Afghanistan, leaving behind a family scarred by their mistakes to the fanatics in power in Pakistan,” says Jonathan.
“A journalist rescues a hare he has hit with his car and abandons the frustrations of his career and marriage for an adventure with his new buddy,” says Jonathan.
“Stylishly translated by Jamie Bulloch, this is the first English translation of an East German novella written just before the Wall fell,” says Jonathan.
“A new Kate Atkinson novel is always cause for celebration,” says Janine. “It examines the huge impact that seemingly small choices can make in life, and in history.”
“Two young Nigerian lovers start separate new lives in America and England before being drawn back together in Africa,” says Janine.
“Fans will have to wait for the final part of her double Man Booker Prize-winning trilogy,” says Janine. “But this masterpiece is set during the French Revolution and out now”.
Historical novelist Chevalier turns her unflinching gaze on her own country, the US, to tell the tale of a Quaker community’s mission to help slaves flee to a new life in Canada.
“The writer mentored by Toni Morrison lives up to the hype with this stunning novel about a family drawn back to Ghana by the death of their father,” says Jonathan.
“This sparkling tragicomic novel is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive Vietnam veteran and a teenager,” says Janine.
“Funny, endearing, and pure, wonderful escapism, this debut tells the story of the logical Professor Don Tillman and his unscientific search for a wife,” says Janine.
“A superlative and multi-layered debut thriller,” says Janine. “Intelligent and powerful, gripping and emotive, and really funny, this is one not to miss.”
Set in the deeply unpleasant landscape of the Chechen conflict, experienced through three people in a desperately under-resourced hospital.
Pollan wonders why we still seem reluctant to get our hands dirty in the kitchen.
Top chefs divulge their favourite spots for a good feed – expect fewer frills and smaller bills than most expect us to swallow in their restaurants.
Moss finds new nadirs in the dark arts of science and marketing, which have us ‘hooked’ on these substances.
Perelman makes light work of creating great food from her tiny New York kitchen with no fancy equipment. Her bright outlook will inspire many.
Britain’s baking hero sets out to rehabilitate bread – showing us not just how to bake our own, but to integrate bread into different meals.
“The antithesis of a corpse-strewn serial-killer blockbuster, The Infatuations is a cerebral take on a single crime,” says Rebecca.
“Mark gets a phone call one afternoon,” explains Rebecca. “No one has come to pick up his son from school. What’s happened to his wife Lauren?”
Based on the true story of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who helped the KGB for 40 years, for ideological rather than financial reasons.
“This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at mid-century crime-fighting, originally published in 1955,” explains Rebecca.
“A fraying family gets together for bonfire night. But a seemingly perfect girlfriend disappears with a young child. Dramatic,” says Rebecca.
“Discontented 17-year-old Veerle joins a gang that breaks into empty houses for kicks. A murderous figure from her past resurfaces and the hunting begins,” says Rebecca.
“Bauer’s best book – an anatomy student with Asperger’s is driven to try to understand what happens to a person when they die after his father’s death,” says Janine.
“This dystopian thriller has bags of merit,” says Janine. “Thousands live in an underground silo after an environmental disaster. There are rules, secrets and consequences for disobeying them.”
“A sharp alternative thriller with some sinister political overtones, this is the story of a pickpocket in Tokyo, drawn into a plot that spirals out of control,” explains Jonathan.
“Stumbling across a dead body, a TV presenter finds her previously comfortable life turned upside down as she is cast in the role of prime suspect,” says Jonathan.
“Grosz, a psychoanalyst, recounts fascinating meetings with patients,” says Janine.
“Rowlands argues running returns us to something we have lost as humans in our pursuit of goals, material or otherwise,” says Janine.
“At rock-bottom, Cheryl decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, and was healed by this wilderness,” says Janine.
“After her mother’s death from cancer, Emma decides to unravel the mystery of her feisty, witty and incredibly strong mother,” says Janine.
“This fascinating history of sound and listening, based on the BBC Radio 4 series, is studded with gem-like facts,” says Rebecca. “This is endlessly enlightening.”
“A booze cruise through the Muslim world – a warning to anyone who loves the grog too much,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca says: “After Bugan’s father is jailed for protesting against the Ceausescu regime in Romania, the whole family is pushed to breaking point.”
“The years of harassment to which Lasdun was subjected by a former writing course pupil form the selling point of this memoir,” Jonathan says.
Jonathan says: “The return of David Bowie offers the perfect stage for Goddard’s glorious musical archaeology.”
“An absorbing memoir,” says Jonathan. “Hemon celebrates his childhood, full of ethnically diverse friends, in the now divided city of Sarajevo.”
“This book reawakens the vivid pleasure of reading as a child,” says Louise. “The characters are as inviting as the woodland in which this enchanting story is set.”
“I’m grateful to John Hegley for making poetry fun,” says Louise. “Here, refreshing as ever, his silly-sombre, nimble wordplay dances along with a life of its own.”
“This is a ‘Leporello’, or folding/concertina book, a 139cm panorama print on the history and mythology of flight,” says Louise.
“This book cleverly combines the identification of dinosaur types with the learning of the shapes of letters,” says Louise.
“A self-doubting slug is befriended by a self-confident spider: together they search for the meaning of beauty,” explains Louise.
“Haughton’s bold, graphic style conveys humour so tenderly,” says Louise. “His palette is select and vibrant and this is a visual romp.”
“This book (about a fantastical island) is a privileged peek into a very unusual naturalist’s notebook,” says Louise.
“Disturbed by a noise in the night, a rabbit spreads panic through the household before discovering that his fears are unfounded,” explains Louise.
Charming, uplifting and perfect for any growing child who might be feeling a little ‘different’.
The Folio Society creates beautiful editions of classic reads, including this, the first in the Dark is Rising sequence, with an author’s introduction.
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