Four novels to read this spring, both crime and less gruesome reading, to help you evade both family during Easter break and exam stress after.
As I am writing this it is intermittently snowing and raining – looks like Norwegian spring, alright. Easter is also coming, a holiday commonly celebrated by Norwegians with stories of gruesome murders. Here I humbly suggest two crime novels and two novels to simply get you in that spring mood (and help you procrastinate from revision).
Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None (1939)
Agatha Christie’s crime stories are well-established classics, perhaps even redundant to promote for Easter reading. Yet I hope my recommendation here will inspire those who may have seen various film and tv adaptations but not read her, to see just what they’re missing out on. And Then There Were None is one of Christie’s most acclaimed works and unlike many of her other novels featuring the iconic Miss Marple or the ingenious Hercule Poirot, this one stands alone. A group of strangers are all mysteriously invited to an island with no host to greet them before someone starts killing them off, one by one. It is a must-read of crime classics, as well as an easy read, and hopefully serves as a gateway novel to her extensive body of work.
Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones (2002)
This book features a different approach to crime – it begins with the murder and after follows the family and the murderer from the perspective of the young victim in the afterlife. Susie Salmon is the victim that becomes a spectator to not only her family’s grieving but to the investigation of her murderer hiding in plain sight. It is more ponderous and, surprisingly, hopeful than general crime novels as well as deeply moving. It serves as an interesting palate cleanser to more stereotypical stories of horrible murders with a genuinely original take and more heart than the genre usually allows.
Ahn Do-hyun – The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher (2015)
Let’s move a bit away from crime novels – spring is not limited to Easter. This novel, almost more of a short story or a fable, is a curious creature. Its lightness and brevity makes it perfect for spring, along with its ponderings on life. It is a bit odd, so bear with me, but it is genuinely lovely. It follows a salmon that is slightly different from the other salmons with its silver scales, and that, as the title suggests, yearns to leap higher; to rebel against the predictability of the life of a salmon. It is a short and easy read, and different in a pleasant way.
John Steinbeck – East of Eden (1952)
Just because spring feels so short – exams, rush to summer, etc – it does not necessarily mean you should not attempt a longer, more challenging novel. For those brave individuals who dare to do so right before exams I suggest John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Yes, you could read Of Mice and Men, it is shorter, easier and more renowned, but East of Eden is really a masterpiece of a novel. Steinbeck himself saw this work as his crowning achievement. Set mostly in the 20th century it follows the lives and times of two families and how they cross paths over the many years. With devious, endearing and complex characters Steinbeck crafts a detailed narrative and a retelling of biblical stories in the vivid setting of Salinas Valley, California.