Searching for a little light-hearted entertainment to temper your spring eves? Prefer something a little darker? More criminal? Here are 5 crackingly good spring reads to amp up the season. Gift your grey matter a little something special.
There’s a kick of heat in the air and the evenings are getting looooooonger. It’s the perfectly weather for picking up a book and get comfy in some dappled sun. But what book?? There are so many to choose from! *Cue realisation of own mortality sparking serious FOMO*
Never fear. We’re here to rescue you from your (first world) crisis of decision-making with 5 super-sweet spring reads. We’ve thrown in bit of whimsy, a witty feminist, somethings short + sweet, a chef celeb and a cracking Aussie crime in an Art Deco setting (with a chic lady detective – love!).
We believe in educating ourselves but we believe in entertainment more. Reading is delicious, but only if it’s good. Life is short – see above comment. Welcome to the Zanui Book Club. The rules of Book Club are… yes, yes, okay – you’re all over that. Without further ado…
YES PLEASE by AMY POEHLER
Amy Poehler is ace. There we’ve said it. Our bias is laid bare. We are totally in love with this funny lady / all-round over-achiever.
If you’ve been existing under a rock + are not familiar with Ames, your world is about to crack open like an Easter egg filled with champagne and smarties. An American actress and comedian, Amy has carved it up on-screen in Mean Girls, Saturday Night Live and Parks & Recreation to name just a few. On SNL, she gave us Hillary Clinton, Michael Jackson, Sharon Stone, Kim Jong-Il, Pam Anderson, Dakota Fanning and more, as you’ve never seen them before. (She was once told she has a good face for wigs. Nice.)
She’s Sunday-roasted the industry with bestie Tina Fey (whilst hosting the Golden Globes), worn a hoodie to the Academy Awards, and called out the media an infinite number of times for the grand ennuie that constitutes its interviewing of women.
Yes Please is like a verbal scrapbook of her life to date with tales of her aspirations, inspirations and self-happenings interspersed with advice in bold font. She’s generous and self-effacing and funny (bien sur). It’s a good, quick read with some chuckles thrown in.
Perfect for: commuting and pre-bed reading – easy to pick up/put down due to its episodic nature.
Destined to: have you feeling better about yourself and ready to take on the world.
- THE LITTLE PRINCE by ANTOINE DE SAINT- EXUPERY
This is not a new release – not even close – but it’s so, so good! It’s a cult classic contained in a slim little volume. At a mere 90 pages, you can read it in a sitting, or slip it in your handbag for a slower more savoured approach.
The plot: A pilot is forced to land in a Saharan desert. With limited water, he sets to mending his plane when a little blond prince from another planet appears with a host of questions. It’s a simple parable with a magic all its own; charming and unpretentious in its telling. To say too much about it would spoil its purity. Just read this perfect piece of prose.
De Saint-Exupéry was a French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator, self-exiled to North Africa at the outbreak of World War II. He was said to have toiled over the manuscript, a perfectionist with a pared-back approach to prose. The result is a beautifully nuanced tale complete with wonderfully naïve illustrations.
The novella was published in 1943 just a year before he disappeared. (His plane failed to return from a reconnaissance mission into wartime Germany and he was presumed dead.) It was to become one of the best-selling books ever, with over 2 million copies sold every year still. So in all likelihood you may have already read it – read it again!
Perfect for: a weekend getaway or a week of lunches. You can even read it to your kids! The pictures are adorable.
Destined to: deliver you from the everyday, stir up a childlike curiosity and stay with you over time.
- JAMIE’S 15 MINUTE MEALS by JAMIE OLIVER
It’s so delicious outside it seems a crime not to celebrate the sunny weather by getting out and about and amongst it. But being lovers of fine fare and prone to indulging our palate, we’re still keen to add just an edge of decadence to our dining. It just has to be swift.
Rumour has it that Jamie’s watch is a little on the slow side. Praps it’s not his fault – he’s an overachiever in the kitchen (and in the entrepreneurial stakes as well). So we thought we’d put his slap-up meals to the test. (Bear in mind that being vegetarian, I can’t vouch for the meatier meals but can state that many animals appear to be represented… Chicken, cow, chicken… okay – my heart’s not in this.)
His 15-minute meals are more like 15 mins after you’ve done your prep, but still – that’s not bad and we have no complaints. The Chilli Nachos with Veggie & Feta Sprinkles (and Mexican Tomato Soup as a starter) were the bomb. The Mushroom Soup with Stilton was also divine. Next, we’re keen to trial the Chickpea and Feta Parcels and Jamie’s Coconut Buns (!). Go to town on Asian-inspired street food recipes, Moroccan influences, super-sized salads and more with this cookbook.
Perfect for: any health-conscious person who’s not prepared to compromise on taste. Delivers flavourful weeknight dinners + casual tasty luncheons – great for entertaining.
Destined to: stave off the red zone (that space where hangry meets spaced out with disastrous consequences). There won’t be time to stop up your gut with cheese and biscuits pre-tea. Summer is coming! Shed the winter coat – and we’re not talking couture here. We’re talking that snuggly inbuilt insulation… 😉
- COCAINE BLUES by KERRY GREENWOOD
Step back in time to Melbourne in the 20s with Phyrne Fisher as your tour-guide. Modern in every sense of the word, Phryne’s the perfect lady detective for the style-savvy reader. She’s the very definition of chic, adorned à la mode right down to her diamante garters.
Investigating an alleged wife-poisoning, Phyrne is drawn from the sanctity of the aristocratic Windsor Hotel into the city’s seamier side with its cocaine smuggling, police corruption and communism (gasp!). Armed with only her pearl-handled pistol, Dr Stopes’ devices and her sharp wit, Phyrne steps into the fray.
Cocaine Blues is fast-paced, feisty and a lot of fun. From its references to Art Deco fashion and culture to its cast of colourful characters, it delivers. It is Gatsby in Australia without coming off as crass. Plus, Gatsby is a she! And an independent one at that.
Cocaine Blues is the first of the 18 novels in the Phyrne Fisher mystery series, making them something of an institution, but, like most Australian fiction, they’re not widely advertised. Despite being headed up by the talented Essie Davis, the ABC TV series does not do the book(s) justice. Trust us. You should read this novel.
Perfect for: enjoying in the late afternoon weekend sun in the company of a spring cocktail or two. You’re by the pool? Even better.
Destined to: have you googling all of the decadent fashion items from the 20s.
- THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER by HILARY MANTEL
Looking for something a little more literary? Hilary Mantel is your woman. Mantel is no stranger to accolades. Both Wolf Hall and its sequel Bringing Up the Bodies were awarded the Man Booker Prize. In this collection of short stories, she is magnificent once more, serving up “sticky slices of suburban noir” (The Times).
The stories traverse space and time from a cell-like apartment in Saudi Arabia in 1983 to Waterloo Station at peak hour in the present day. The writing is concentrated and concise; the stories savage, even brutal, but beautiful. If dark humour is your thing, you’ll be rewarded in this mini tome. This is Mantel in bite-sized chunks. Read it in a sitting or pick a path through the stories at your leisure.
Perfect for: reading before bed and for those solo weekend café adventures whilst you’re enjoying a single origin from Yemen.
Destined to: Make you feel more cultured just by holding the book, and delightfully pleased at how accessible each rich and diverse tale is.
What are you reading this spring?