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The 5 Best Classic Novels to Read in Spring

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Alice Burton

Staff Writer

Chicagoan and aspiring cryptozoologist Alice Burton has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and is an Archives Assistant with the Frances Willard Historical Society. When not booking or historying, she is singing soprano wherever people will have her. She will watch any documentary on Neanderthals or giant extinct animals, and has a Stockholm Syndrome-like love for Chicago and its winters. Blog: Reading Rambo Twitter: @itsalicetime

Spring has sprung. Birds are singing. Floral-patterned clothing has emerged, blinking its sleep-laden eyes at the sun once more, and you’re wondering, as you do every year, “Which classic novels most fit my seasonal-themed novel-reading tastes?”

emmaEmma by Jane Austen
90% of Emma, in my memory, is picnics. That and long walks. I’m pretty sure winter doesn’t enter the book, although I’ve only read it once and most of my memory of its plot centers around the movie Clueless, which is set in California. Regardless, Emma fits perfectly into your spring aesthetic and will pair well with some cunning ballet flats.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Margaret in North and South spends the majority of her time mooning over how nice and flowery it is in the south of England. Read this while spring’s erratic weather pattern rears its indecisive head and a sudden snowstorm makes it impossible to go outside while retaining your notion that April means no more boots.

middlemarchMiddlemarch by George Eliot
George Eliot loved the country. All of her books love the country. All of her characters thrived and died in the country. George Eliot lived, by the way, in London; make of that what you will. Middlemarch involves many brisk walks and rides and canters about the countryside as each character makes the others miserable for some reason or another. But they do it mostly in warm weather, which lessens the blow a little.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Follow grumpy Mary Lennox as she wanders around the countryside smelling flowers and discovering the true magic is in spring. Like the Druids. Now that I think of it, this book might be secret propaganda for the Druid religion. Someone should look into this.*

enchanted aprilEnchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Elizabeth von Arnim decided that the best way to solve all your problems come springtime is to rent a castle in Italy with people you barely know. This method works in the novel, and so we should most likely follow suit:
Castles for Rent


*No one should look into this. That would be giving the Druids what they want



So take yourselves to the park — hopefully with your dog or even your cat if you have one of those cat leashes — find a nice bench, wipe off the rainwater that has most assuredly accumulated because it’s April, and read, safe in the knowledge that your reading choice is season-appropriate.