Photo by coniferconifer, Creative Commons, via Flickr.
It was one degree outside my door the other day -- as in, thirty-one degrees below the freezing point. An unusually hard winter, again.
If it weren't for the lengthening hours of light and the unarguably increasing warmth of the sun (not to mention maple sap dripping onto the hood of my car from the tree that arches over my driveway), I might despair. But bitter cold and almost-daily snow shoveling are not here to stay, regardless of what Oberon might wish to think. Make way for Titania. Come along, spring.
With the turning of seasons, I love to read associated titles. It's my way to both celebrate alternate elements of life and move with the rhythm of Nature herself. Here are ten spring books to get us started as we coax spring to (please!) make her appearance.
1. O: Love Poems from the Ozarks; T. S. Poetry Press
Divided into four sections--spring, summer, autumn, winter--this collection has an overall feel of vibrance that will waken you like the first spring day. Read it in your jeans (or, um, out).
I love the unknown in you,
the unfair, the shy backs of your knees,
the colony of dimples
that sleep in moon-shaped huts
toward your mouth.
2. InsideOut: Poems; International Arts Movement
Also divided into the four seasons, this book chronicles a year spent out-of-doors for at least fifteen minutes daily. Includes a good collection of haiku length poems that will make you consider doing a year of nature sitting. Start this spring, and you can create your own book-length collection of poems to track the experience.
Shall I teach
you the way
of a blossom,
the way of a cherry
pale yellow flutter
on the wind!
3. Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Though the poems in this enchanting volume are by no means all about spring, they exhibit a freshness and immediacy that feels appropriate for the season. And some of the short poems feel to me like little seeds to plant in the psyche. A timeless collection worth reading and re-reading in any season, though I'm listing it amidst spring titles.
At West Creek in Ch' U-Chou
Alone, I savor wildflowers tucked in along the creek,
and there's a yellow oriole singing in treetop depths.
Spring floods come rain-swollen and wild at twilight.
No one here at the ferry, a boat drifts across of itself.
4. Charlotte's Web; HarperCollins
This is one of my favorite fiction books ever. And I don't mind saying that, even though it's a children's book. The story is a life story. Yes, one of the main characters is a pig named Wilbur and the other is a spider named Charlotte, but their friendship and the scope of what they build and discover together is reminiscent of any beautiful human relationship. The writing is surprisingly complex, and I love the way the story is book-ended by the season of spring...
From the beginning of the book:
"Fern pushed a chair out of the way and ran outdoors. The grass was wet and smelled of springtime."
From the end of the book:
"Each spring there were new little spiders hatching out to take the place of the old. Most of them sailed away, on their balloons. But always two or three stayed and set up housekeeping in the doorway."
5. Poem on Your Pillow Day Printable Collection; T. S. Poetry Press
What is Poem on Your Pillow Day? Pretty much what it sounds like. A poem. A pillow. The coming together of the two, via someone placing a poem onto someone else's pillow.
6. The Artist's Way; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam
I have read The Artist's Way every spring for four years now, and each year it teaches me something new, calls me to places I hadn't yet dreamed. The 12-week course in creativity and becoming unblocked will help you take a hard look at what's holding you back and what you might be looking forward to, that you may be surprised about. One of the most life-changing aspects of the book is the suggestion that you take regular artist dates. Take them. See what happens.
One of my all-time favorite nonfiction reads, this book is about taking plateaus and turning them into the next step in life, relationships, or business. The authors assert that trying harder is a failed strategy and often assures that you will not leave the plateau. The book will help you recognize strong indicators of a plateau and give you practical strategies for moving forward. A perfect title for spring!
8. On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea; Rayo HarperCollins
T. S. Eliot conceived of spring as a hard season, as much as a season of hope. To quote his poem "The Wasteland," "April is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain..."
Neruda's poems of the sea, which he claims were written during the "autumn" of his life, have the feel of Eliot's spring. Hard and beautiful, both. Destructive, and life-giving. I am reading them to herald spring.
The First Sea, excerpt
I broke free of my roots.
My country grew in size.
My world of wood split open.
The prison of the forests
opened a green door,
letting in the wave and all its thunder,
and, with the shock of the sea,
my life widened out into space.
I'm excited to be part of an upcoming book club for A More Beautiful Question, to welcome spring this year. What better way to celebrate a change of season than to begin with questions? This title covers topics such as the power of inquiry, why we stop questioning, how to engage in innovative questioning, questioning in business, and questioning for life. You'll learn to ask "what if," to bring promising change into your own experience.
10. The Pocket Muse: Ideas & Inspirations for Writing; Writer's Digest Books
A book of thought-provoking prompts, quotes, and illustrations, this little volume is a great way to usher in spring. Let it inspire your writing and your life, as the sleepiness of winter begins to fall away.
From the book:
"What are you waiting for? If not now, when?
"Write about a noise--or a silence--that won't go away."
This is a modified reprint of a post that first appeared at Tweetspeak Poetry.