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9 Books to Read this Spring

    9 Books to Read This Spring / jones design company

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sporadic reader.

    I devour a handful of books, proudly declaring my love for a great novel, and then months go by before I pick another one up.

    It could have something to do with the reading material I choose. Typically, I pick a historical fiction. Usually the story is a little heavy. I adore really great writing, which consequentially, takes me longer to get through. Books with multiple characters, varying generations, intertwining stories, beautiful, thought-provoking ideas – this is what I lean towards.

    So I suppose it makes sense that after moving through a few books, I need a mental break. Well, my break is now over. I’m ready to jump back into my love affair with a good book.

    For my Spring Reading list, I’ve chosen a few books that fit my typical WWII/Slavery storyline preference (not that both topics are in one book. I enjoy reading WWII books and books about slavery), and pushed myself to pick a few that are decidedly out of my norm.

    Here they are, in no particular order:

    THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton

    Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

    I have read several of Ms. Morton’s novels and she is brilliant at taking us through history while developing deep characters. I never want the stories to end.

    THE WEDDING DRESS by Rachel Hauck

    Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress… until she discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history―and its new bride―begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

    This one falls in the Christian Fiction category (which honestly, I’m not always crazy about). But then I read that the dress once belonged to an Emily (that’s me!) and then a Hillary (that’s my little sister!) and decided to give it a try. Plus, it has great reviews.

    A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan

    Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It and Where’d You Go, Bernadette will cheer at this “fresh, funny take on the age-old struggle to have it all” (People) about what happens when a wife and mother of three leaps at the chance to fulfill her professional destiny—only to learn every opportunity comes at a price.

    Well, I did really enjoy Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and this cover had me at first glance, so I’m giving it a go.

    THE PARIS ARCHITECT by Charles Belfoure

    In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.
    But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what’s at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we’ll go to make things right.

    This book falls hard in my favored category (like All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightengale). It sounds heavy and so I’ll sandwich it between two lighter reads.

    COUNTING BY 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
    Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

    There is something sort of quirky that intrigues me about this story. I hope it pleasantly surprises me.

    IT’S SIMPLY TUESDAY by Emily Freeman

    Our obsession with bigger and faster is spinning us out of control. We move through the week breathless and bustling, just trying to keep up while longing to slow down. But real life happens in the small moments, the kind we find on Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week. For those being pulled under by the strong current of expectation, comparison, and hurry, relief is found more in our small moments than in our fast movements.

    This one has been on my bookshelf since the day it was released. I bought one for my best friend, too, and she keeps reminding me that I really need to read it. I have a hard time making it through Christian living-type books, but I deeply respect Emily and know the content will speak to me right where I’m at. It will be read this spring!

    I’LL DRINK TO THAT by Betty Halbreich

    Eighty-six-year-old Betty Halbreich is a true original who could have stepped straight out of Stephen Sondheim’s repertoire. She has spent nearly forty years as the legendary personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, where she works with socialites, stars, and ordinary women off the street. She has helped many find their true selves through fashion, frank advice, and her own brand of wisdom. She is trusted by the most discriminating persons—including Hollywood’s top stylists—to tell them what looks best. But Halbreich’s personal transformation from cosseted young girl to fearless truth teller is the greatest makeover of her career.

    I’m thinking I need more memoirs in my life. I’ll start with this one.

    GLORY OVER EVERYTHING by Kathleen Grissom

    A novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad.
    The author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House continues the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

    Oh my goodness, did you all read The Kitchen House? Probably my favorite book of all times. Or at least it was when I read it. I cannot wait to read the follow-up story to that one. Cannot wait. It is released on April 5th.


    You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

    I’ll admit – the cover got me on this one. But the story sounds fun and light and I really, really love coconut cupcakes (particularly this recipe).


    So there they are … my nine picks for spring reading. Have you read any of these? Do you have a favorite you’re reading now? Any more suggestions?

    78 thoughts on “9 Books to Read this Spring”

    1. I know this post is so old BUT I LOVE your books recommendations. I love how honest you are and whether you loved it or couldn’t finish. I also love the comments from other readers.

      I google search JDC books all the time, sync titles with my goodreads and KCLS account for my kindle.

      Have you thought about putting a category on the right of books?

      Merry Christmas from Kirkland. Xoxo

    2. Just listened to the Coffe Chat. I was sure you were going to say you didn’t like The Paris Architect. I’m 1/3 of the way through and don’t particularly care what happens to the awful main character!

      Anybody else?

    3. Just added Counting by 7’s and The Paris Architect. I am a slave to historical fiction. love stepping into other times. Sigh.

    4. You saved my spring vacation with my family. I knew I needed a book or two to read and your lists never disappoint. I took your suggestion from an earlier list and read The Invention of Wings. I cried when I put it down for the last time. SO AMAZING! Then I had to hit up B&N for a book while on vacation and bought The Paris Architect. Yes, the subject matter is heavy but the general sense of the novel is uplifting. I have now moved on to The Lake House and am excited to see how I like this one because our library has a bunch of her other novels. Thanks so much for being a great resource for books. I think we seem to share the same taste in fiction for sure so I will visit again and again until there aren’t any more books on my “to read” list!!

      1. I’m so glad it was helpful!

        FYI: I read A Window Opens and The Wedding Dress, and didn’t like either :( I’ll update the post just to let everyone know.

    5. I read The Wedding Dress and absolutely loved it! It’s a definite departure from my usual read, but that happens every once in awhile and it’s always good. The Wedding Dress was wonderful. It’s on my list to definitely read again and recommend without hesitation. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    6. Emily,
      I too love to read. You have an interesting selection this time.
      You might also like to check out The Culling by Cassiah Smith. It is available on Amazon (even as an e-book):

      My family loved it when I read it out loud. My 12 year old son actually picked it up to read to himself afterward.
      Blessings to you and your family.

    7. Kitchen House is one of my all time favorites!! Everyone should read it. Thank you for letting me know a follow up book is coming! I can’t wait. The book list you put together seems very interesting. I’m definitely going to read a few of your suggestions.

    8. I think we have very similar tastes. I also loved The Kitchen House and am excited to know there is another book coming soon! Thanks for the recommendations!

    9. Hey Em. I have in my pile “All the light you cannot see”. This is apparantly brilliant and WW11 genre. Brock and Bodie Theone have a series called Zion Covenant Series. I think there’s about 9 books in all and they are set in WW11. Historical fiction. I loved them. They were one of the first authors to really take me there and get me to picture the story actually happening. Of course you may only want to buy the first one and see if you like it. I swap genre’s all the time, depending on what I feel like. Sometime’s I even have a couple on the go. One in the car for when I’m waiting for the kids. One at school, for when I’m working and on lunch break. I have many piles around the house of books ‘to read’. I’ve just started university at the ripe old age of 40, so now I will be reading textbooks. That is going to make me a bit brain dead I think. Enjoy snuggling up in a beautiful place and have a good read. Rach x

    10. Loved this list! I read (audible) a lot and read the Kitchen House early last year and loved it so much I can hardly find the words to articulate! I did not, however, love The Lake House (and I know I’m in the minority on that opinion.) I just finished the memoir of the Marley and Me author and thought it was outstanding. I always list the ones I’ve finished on Instagram @sfloyd3 if anyone is looking for more suggestions. Thanks again for your suggestions. Several of them are going in my “to download” que.

    11. love this list, e! I, too, am read a lot of WWII & slavery eras, but I am also a huge memoir fan. the older I get, the more I allow myself to give in to my fascination with real people and not just fictional ones. one thing I do for memoirs is buy the audiobook if it is narrated by the author. some memoirs I still ponder are
      •Martin Short’s “I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend”
      •Carly Simon’s “Boy’s in the Trees”
      •Eric Clapton “Eric, The Autobiography”
      •Patti Boy “Wonderful Tonight”

      I’d love to know your take on The House Girl by Tara Conklin, an intersecting story 150 years apart about a modern day female lawyer in a reparations case assigned to find out what happened to a runaway house girl, thought to be the real artist behind now her famous mistress.

      I’m listening to Brooklyn now, by Colm Tóibín, so I can hear all the lovely accents and hear the names pronounce properly. it’s set in the 50s, so I’m a also a little spellbound thinking of those who’ve settled after the war.

      oh! and The Wedding Dress is on sale in iBooks for $1.99 today, too. :)

    12. I just finished the Lake House! I love Kate Morton books too , I always wish they could keep going. I have the new Susan Messiner Stars over Sunset Boulevard to read next and then another one I saw on her Facebook page called A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable, I have never read her books but it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. I can’t wait to read some of these book too.

    13. I think we have the same taste in books. I usually have such a hard time taking suggestions because I do not usually care for Christian fiction or the girly stuff my friends read, ha! Since December I have read Unbroken, The Boys on the Boat (my husband’s suggestion – i was hesitant because of the sporty angle but it was great. And it takes place in and around Seattle), All the Light We Cannot See, and I’m 30 minutes away from finishing The Nightingale (on – which I love because I can steal a few chapters while folding laundry, doing dishes, etc). All wonderful and great reminders that my problems are not so big, which I think is why I like historical fiction.

      I’m interested to pick up some of your suggestions!

    14. My friend just finished …the Coconut Cake last weekend. She loved it! I’m borrowing her copy to read next week. The rest of your suggestions sound very inviting.

    15. So excited to check these out. I got a kindle a couple of years ago as a mother’s day present, but the photos of all of those beautiful book covers make me want the real pages! Thanks for the recommendations.

    16. E- just finished the coconut cake book. Good! Just be ready to crave coconut cake the entire time you read and celebrate with some upon completion!

    17. Some of these sound so good! I really enjoyed I’ll drink to that. It was so interesting to hear Betty’s story and how her job at Bergdorf kinda fell in her lap. She sure made the most of it!

    18. I love to read and do so every night before I fall asleep. I’m always looking for great books to read. Like you I adored The Kitchen House. One of my favorites ! Here are 2 other favorites of mine. They are historical but not too heavy. Actually they are perfect for after the heavy books and need a break.
      “Kindred” by Octavia Butler — American slavery in 1800’s
      “Between Shades of Grey” by Ruta Sepetys — WWII / Russia

      Both were summer reads for my high schooler.
      Definately put on your list of “must reads”.

    19. Emily thank you so much for posting this list. I never have time to review books to find ones that I would like to read. This list is just what I needed. I looooved All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightengale. I think I will get The Paris Architect first.

    20. Cheryl Holsonbake (@cherylreads)

      Counting by 7s is awesome and it’s about my city! The places are real within the city too (school district, parks, farmer’s market, all of it!) But I mostly loved it because it demonstrates so well how we can build family around us, even if they are not really family.

    21. I randomly listened to Counting by Sevens, I loved it.
      For all you sporadic reader listening to audio books can be done at most anyplace and time now. If you want to keep up with your reading try it. I look forward to plowing through your list.

    22. “The Lake House” sounds wonderful, I love stories set in Cornwall. I have read the ” Coincidence of Coconut Cake” and it is a great story ! The cover grabbed me too. I work at our local library and I love to read and see all of the new books come in ….sadly I have a hard time finding time to read. I have started bringing a book or my kindle with me and when I have a few moments waiting on kids to get out of school etc. then I read and it makes me happy !

    23. I haven’t read any of these but did read Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I’m adding these suggestions to my list. I’m a sporadic reader too but since the day I became aware of that, I’ve been reading much more. Joined a book club too and that made all the difference and has expanded my horizons. :)

    24. We have very similar literary tastes and styles (I am a binge reader, too) I have about 50 pages left of The Lake House. It’s taken me forever to read. I got it for Christmas and I read in bed every night before falling asleep so I max out at 5 pages and can never remember what I read the night before! Oh well! I just ordered The Wedding Dress on Amazon and I’ll Drink To That might have to be next…I worked for a personal shopper at the original Neiman Marcus in Downtown Dallas…oh the stories I could tell!

    25. Kylie @PinkPaddock Store

      Thanks for your list Emily.Like you, I love to read but very sporadicically…and generally depending on level of craziness going on at home. I LOVE historical fiction novels but I do have to throw in a easy read in between. Im not a fast reader so I do love it when I whiz through a easy read. I have The LakeHouse by my bedside readying to read. Cant wait. Love your list though and will certainly be adding some to my ever growing bedside pile. (Im secretly dreaming of a whole day in bed …raining outside ……endless cups of tea and reading a great book- I have three small children so its not likely to happen any time soon!!). Enjoy your books and thanks for sharing xxx

    26. I LOVE your book lists!! I’m an avid reader and tend to stick to mostly historical fiction. I love anything that has to do with WW2 and the Holocaust. I’ve read two on your current list, The Paris Architect and The Lake House. I love Kate Morton novels…she is one of my favorite writers! After reading all of her book I have to say that I enjoyed the Lake House the least! It’s good and definitely worth reading though. The Paris Architect was great!! I loved learning about occupied Paris during the war. If you’re at all hesitant about sex scenes this book does have several that really don’t add to the story…don’t get me wrong, I love a little bit of romance, just no raunch please!! :))
      A wonderful book I’ve read recently is Salt to the Sea…it’s about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during the last days of WW2. Highly recommend!!

    27. I loved The Kitchen House ! So I’m excited to know of a sequel soon to be released ! I have really enjoyed several of your books off of your last booklist …. House Girl and also the Invention of Wings…. Slavery books :) I read three in a row … So Thanks for another list to try ! My favorite book last summer was The Nightengale along with All the Light We Cannot See :)

    28. Counting by 7’s was FABULOUS!! Loved it. I also really enjoy Kate Morton. Have you read any Liane Moriarty or Joshilyn Jackson?

    29. I love a good booklist so thank you. I am a reader like you. I am either reading nonstop or can barely make it thru a magazine. Have read several of the books you have mentioned and am looking forward to this list. The Lake House is already next to my reading chair.
      Can’t wait for the next chapter in The Kirchen House…an amazing book.
      Like you sometimes I am put off by Christian writing yet Susan Meissner is a favorite (A Fall of Marigolds and Secrets of a Charmed Life)

      Have you read any of Sarah Addison Allen’s books? I call them adult fairy tales’ very charming and an easy read.
      Oops this has gotten long winded….Sorry
      Ps looking forward to the Penmanship course.

    30. If you enjoy historical fiction, you MUST read at least ones title from my favorite, Eugenia Price. She has since passed into glory, but she wrote beautifully about real people & their fictional cohorts living in northern Florida & coastal Georgia in an era from long ago. I find myself endeared to her characters every time. Several of her books are parts of series (Savannah Quartet, Florida Trilogy), but she wrote many that stand alone. Happy reading.

    31. I, too, am a sporadic reader. I find that if I have a good book, I do nothing else. As in clean the house or feed the children. It can get ugly. I’ve only read Counting by 7’s. A great book. Added some of these books to my list on Goodreads. I’m reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore now. It’s good.

    32. Annie - annieVdesigns

      This post has whetted my appetite to get my nose out of social media and back into the comfort of reading–whether sticking my nose in the pages of a book in real life or the convenience of Kindle, this entire list sounds delicious to my literary senses. Reading is one of the best, and most enjoyable ways to pass time. I miss it. appreciate how you took the time to thoughtfully offer your perspectives and why you would like them. I trust your judgement, so time to do some previews! Thanks Emily.

    33. Your email came literally just as i was browsing through amazon looking for a new book to read :-) so many to add to my list! Among others, I want to read Glory Over Everything but havent read The Kitchen House. So fyi to anyone who hasnt read it- The Kitchen House is only $1.99 on Amazon Kindle right now!

    34. I listened to ‘I’ll Drink to That’ on Audible and loved how descriptive she was about clothing. Goodness, the first chapter about her childhood and the beautiful dresses she would wear was probably my favorite of them all!

    35. I’ve actually read Counting By 7’s. It’s a great book. You’ll love it. Excited to try all these other books too.

    36. Kate Morton is a favorite author of mine. You will love The Lake House! I made a list of the ones from your list that I didn’t know about. Now I have some new options for reading! Thanks for posting!
      Also, The Girl You Left Behind is a fabulous and heart wrenching WWII story if you haven’t read that one yet. The audiobook is fabulous!

    37. Have you read Outlander, by chance? If you’re into historical fiction, romance, varying generations, layers of characters and story lines, then that is the book for you. It’s my favorite book/series that has swallowed me whole.

      Thanks for your list; I shall check them out!

    38. this list. I already had a few of these on my own list. I did read Coincidence of Coconut Cake simply because I loved the cover :) It took me a couple chapters to get into it but it is one of my faves. The description fits it very well.

      My step-son had to read Counting by 7’s for a class and loved and told me I should read it, so it has been on my list.

      Thank you for your list xoxo

    39. It sounds like our tastes overlap a bit. If you haven’t read A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, you definitely should; it checks all your boxes :) It covers the life of WWII pilot Teddy and his family. It’s just beautiful, moving back and forth in time, with great characterization. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Technically it’s the companion to Life After Life by the same author, but I read A God in Ruins first (and like it better). Avoid spoilers with this book and just dive in.

    40. I’ve read the Paris Architect. It was really really good and a different type of WWII fiction. I haven’t read any of your other books but put most of them on my to be read list! I loved The Kitchen House, so I can’t wait to read her new one!

    41. I love these book posts! Adding Counting by 7s to my list and cannot wait for Glory Over Everything! The Paris Architect was excellent but definitely emotional. Also recently loved Finding Rebecca and The Color of Secrets…given your love of historical fiction, I think you’d really like them too. Also, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats was beautiful and a much needed reprieve from WWII fiction!

    42. Great list! The Lake House is one of my all-time favorite books – so good! As was The Kitchen House, so you’d better believe I’ll be reading Glory Over Everything as soon as it comes out! I also liked Simply Tuesday and A Window Opens. I added The Paris Architect and I’ll Drink to That to my reading list, as I did Counting by 7s and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. It seems we have similar taste in books! Thanks for sharing these!

    43. Hi Emily! Thanks for the great book ideas! I, like you, am a sporadic reader :). I have read The Paris Architect and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! I too love historical fiction and found the writing to be fabulous. Enjoy! :)

    44. I love WWII fiction books as well, and The Paris Architect was great!
      Right now I’m reading Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. It’s about an old white woman who’s telling the story of her first love – a black man in the 1930’s.
      I just added The Kitchen House to my Amazon wish list. Thanks for the book ideas!

    45. Funny that we always seem to be reading the same books! I read the Lake House late last year and enjoyed. Literally just finished the Wedding Dress – pretty lightweight but kept me entertained on a 5 hour flight! The Christian aspects were a total sidebar so don’t let that dissuade you. Almost like they threw them in to gain a wider audience. Would have been better to just leave them out. Adding the others to my library hold list!

    46. I love recommendations and ideas from others on what to read, thanks so much! I personally recommend Rosamunde Pilcher “Winter Solstice” and Liane Moriarty “the Husband’s Secret”. Oh and I loved Carolyn Brown’s “The ladies’ room”

    47. My daughter and I both LOVED The Boys in the Boat. Thank you for your recommendation! Non fiction are my faves and that one was perfect in every way! These titles (and covers) are intriguing. I will give them a try!

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