These Easter reads from Hungerford Bookshop will put Spring in your step
Emma Milne-White gives us some cracking ideas
SPRING is finally here! Our bookshop window is bursting with bright green and yellow books, and daffodils are like a splash of sunshine on our collection table. Books on gardening and nature abound – not surprising as there has been little else to do other than go on walks and tend our plants.
Hugh Johnson, best known for his wine guides, has written Sitting in the Shade: A Decade of My Garden Journey Journey (Mitchell Beazley, £17.99). Hugh shares with the reader through his easy, evocative writing an eclectic mix of thoughtful, topical and whimsical insights that will delight not only gardeners but anyone with an interest in nature in all its costumes.
Marc Hamer has written a beautiful book, From Seed to Dust (Vintage, £14.99), beautiful both inside and out. He says any garden belongs to everyone who sees it – it is like a book and everybody who visits it will find different things (of course that resonates with a bookseller). In this life-enhancing book, Marc takes us month-by-month through his experiences both working in the garden and outside it, as the seasons’ changes bring new plants and wildlife to the fore and lead him to reflect on his past and future.
Books on birds are literally perching on the specially-made bookstands in our window. The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird (Cornerstone, £14.99) by renowned musician and folk expert Sam Lee looks stunning. The nightingale heralds the arrival of spring. For thousands of years its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers, and artists round the world. This book is a charming and unique portrait of a famed yet elusive songbird.
A year ago Stephen Moss’ garden was awash with birdsong – chiffchaffs, wrens, robins and a new arrival, the blackcap, all competing to sing as the season gathered pace. The 2020 Spring Equinox, however, proved to be unlike any other. As the nation stumbled toward a collective lockdown, Stephen observed and recorded the wildlife in his immediate vicinity, with his Labrador Rosie as his companion on his daily exercise. The result is Skylarks with Rosie: A Somerset Spring (Saraband, £12.99). The book underlines how an unprecedented crisis has changed the way we relate to the natural world, giving us hope for the future at perhaps the darkest time in our lives.
A Poem for Every Spring Day (Macmillan, £14.99), edited by Allie Esiri, and Poetry Rebellion: Poems and Prose to Rewild the Spirit (Pavilion, £12.99) edited by Paul Evans, as well as Spring: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons, edited by Melissa Harrison (Elliot & Thompson £12.99), which contains an inspiring selection of poetry and prose from classic writers as well as new voices (and includes Newbury Weekly News’ nature writer Nicola Chester) are all fabulous to dip into and revive the spirits.
On turning 80, David Hockney sought out rustic tranquility for the first time; a place to watch the sunset and the change of the seasons; a place to keep the madness of the world at bay. So when Covid-19 and lockdown struck, it made little difference to life at La Grande Cour, the centuries-old Normandy farmhouse where Hockney set up a studio a year before, in time to paint the arrival of spring. In fact, he relished the enforced isolation as an opportunity for even greater devotion to his art. Spring Cannot be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy (Thames & Hudson, £25) is an uplifting manifesto that affirms art’s capacity to divert and inspire. It is based on a wealth of new conversations and correspondence between Hockney and the art critic Martin Gayford, his long-time friend and collaborator.
If art appeals to you also see Spring by David Trigg (Tate, £9.99), a small beautifully produced book published by The Tate that takes us on a fascinating journey through Western Art via this verdant season.
We have some wonderful books for children too. Classics such as Brambly Hedge: Spring Story by Jill Barklem (£6.99, HarperCollins) and The Flower Fairies: Spring (Warne, £6.99) remain ‘evergreens’. In the Poppy & Sam series, recently refreshed by Usborne, are two adorable finger-puppet books – choose from a bunny or a lamb – to keep small ones entertained (Usborne, £7.99 each).
If you think the children will have enough chocolate this Easter then a book might be just the thing – it will certainly last longer. Peter Rabbit: A Fluffy Easter Tail (Warne, £7.99) is a delightful touch-and-feel board book for very young readers.
Oscar the Hungry Unicorn Eats Easter by Lou Carter (Orchard, £6.99) is a funny picture book story. The Easter egg hunt goes awry when Oscar eats all the eggs (as well as the baskets and the signs). Can he save the day? Less put-upon bunnies feature in the sweet Five Little Easter Bunnies by Martha Mumford (Bloomsbury, £6.99). Join them as they set off on an exciting lift-the-flap adventure. Based on the popular childhood rhyme Five Little Speckled Frogs, this joyful, interactive book is packed with adorable bunnies, lambs, chicks and ducklings and great for reading aloud.
The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith (OUP, £7.99) is a sensitive and colourful re-telling of the Story of Easter told through the eyes of a donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem, A perfect way to share the story with children.
And finally, if chocolate really cannot be resisted then Cadburys have two books to indulge in: The Cadbury Mini-Eggs Cookbook & The Cadbury Creme Egg Cookbook Cookbook (HarperCollins, £9.99 each).