Spring has finally sprung, with all-day sunshine and temperatures moving into the meaty part of the 70s—at least down here in the South. As my northern colleagues still work to shake off the snow and the bone-chilling cold, my thoughts have turned toward the gradually awakening outside world and all its warming, soul-gladdening possibilities. I always look forward to reading books that match my mood, the season, or both, and April has a host of excellent options. Here are three:
Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett
Other than blooming flowers, what’s more quintessentially “spring” than rain showers? In this “multifaceted examination of the science, the art, the technology, and even the smell of rain throughout history,” Barnett delivers a variety of fascinating stories about this indispensable part of the natural world.
Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light by David Downie
Paris in spring is loaded with newfound energy, bursting flowers, and romantic possibilities, and Downie dives headlong into a history of the city in the 19th century, when Hugo, Dumas, Delacroix, and so many others were active in the City of Light. As our reviewer astutely notes, “the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of the city and its artists grants him a mystical gift of access: doors left ajar and carriage gates left open foster his search for the city’s magical story.”
Where would the health of the American West’s natural landscape be without Abbey and Stegner? In his latest book, creative writing instructor Gessner engagingly investigates the lives of these two vital figures in the history of American environmentalism. “For all their differences in style, they converged in recognizing the increasing vulnerability of the West to drought, fires, fracking, and overwhelming tourism,” writes our reviewer. —E.L.
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.