National Book Day: Our top 5 Spring reads

Every year, World Book Day falls on the same day in the UK, the first Thursday in March. A registered registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own, it's also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it's a celebration of reading. To celebrate NBD we round up our top five Spring reads.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness 2011

Twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness wrote this book based on the idea of another author, Siobhan Dowd, whose death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Set in England, 13 year-old Conor’s mum is dying and he has had the same recurring dream every night since she fell ill. A monster shows up at midnight… A profoundly sad story. Heart-rending and brave.

Days Without End, Sebastian Barry 2016

Set in the 1850s, Thomas McNulty has crossed the Atlantic, having escaped the Great Famine in Ireland, arriving in Missouri to rebuild his life after his family have died. He finds a friend in John Cole; they sign up to the U.S Army and go on to fight in the Indian and Civil Wars. A makeshift family develops between the two men and a young Sioux girl, Winona. This is a story of survival but a love story too – an experimental epic.

Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover 2018

Tara was born in 1986 in rural Idaho, the youngest of seven in a Mormon survivalist family. No birth certificate was issued, her father forbade mainstream medicine and schools. She spent her childhood preparing for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. She stewed herbs for her mother, an unlicensed midwife and herbalist, and salvaged in her father’s junkyard. She began to educate herself at home, she set foot in a classroom for the first time at 17 and went on to do a fellowship at Harvard and to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. An unforgettable memoir.

Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip 2007

As a journalist Jones covered the brutal civil war that took place on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville in the 1990s, and this is where the novel is set. The blockade has begun on the island and almost everyone has fled, but one white man chooses to stay: eccentric Mr Watts (known as Pop Eye) who is married to a native black woman. 13-year-old Matilda and her fellow islanders are left to face the violence of the insurgents and when the school closes Mr Watts steps in. He reads to the children each day from Charles Dicken’s classic, Great Expectations and their horizons widen, but disaster awaits. I defy you not to love this book.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead 2016

This is the tale of Cora, a young African American woman, who journeys to freedom from a particularly vicious cotton plantation in Georgia, on a secret underground railroad. Pursued by relentless slave catcher Ridgeway, each stop presents a new kind of hell from which Cora is forced to flee. This book is remarkable - shocking and so imaginative.

Image credit @theslowtraveler