Books to See You Through the Year

by - Wednesday, March 13, 2019


There's something magical about books which take a whole year to read. By this, of course, I don't mean tomes of novels, in which we may lose interest before we finish. Rather, the books which we can dip into from month to month, or as the season changes. Books which offer instruction, advice, or simply encourage us to reflect throughout the year.

Such books are often most popular in the run-up to Christmas, as they are presented prominently on bookshop displays enticing customers to purchase these lovely pages as gifts for loved ones to enjoy. By January, they are all-too-frequently shelved again, as though their contents matter less once the tinsel and baubles have been taken down.

I disagree. Such delights can and should be enjoyed no matter what the season. Such books may live atop our bedside table or the sideboard shelf, opened frequently so they do not gather dust. With renewed pleasure as weeks pass, since what seemed irrelevant in the colder days matters much more when the first buds of spring emerge, or the falling leaves of autumn grace out gardens.

My list is by no means complete. What follows is a selection of books I myself have found interesting, and which I hope will satisfy a multitude of tastes and pleasures. Finding such titles without prior knowledge of their existence has proved a little difficult, so please feel free to tell me of your own favourite "yearlong" reads in the comments below so we can share with others looking for such books.

Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden




What a beautiful and illuminating book this is! As the title suggests, it is a facsimile of the country diary produced by Edith Holden in 1909, written in her own hand and accompanied by glorious watercolour images of the flora and fauna she observed around her home in the Midlands. The book is divided into months, with the start of each chapter punctuated by a interesting anecdotes, etymology and poems.

The photograph above (by Holly Grace Levell, via Instagram) is intended to offer an insight into the gorgeously decorated pages. Although among the most expensive titles in this list, it is truly a delight to own (particularly the most recent reproduction), and you may well find a secondhand copy for a bargain price.

The Almanac by Lia Leendertz


This is a beautifully illustrated almanac which aims to provide a seasonal guide to he year and help us connect with the natural world.

Lia Leendertz is an award winning writer on food and gardening who has published in the Guardian and Telepgraph newspapers, in addition to her long-running column for The Simple Things magazine. Her 2019 almanac follows on from the success of last year's, which revitalized the almanac tradition for a new audience. It partly follows the pattern of the old rural almanac - sunrise and sunset tables for the whole year, tide timetables, moon phases and information on the sky at night - but also features seasonal recipes, folk stories and songs, a peek inside the beehive each month, a seasonal cheese of the month, and the names of each month in all of the languages of the British Isles. It is a celebration of the British year in nature, and a joy to own!

I am the Seed that Grew into a Tree - National Trust


Although I discovered several volumes of daily poetry while researching this article, this is the book which stands out!

Marketed as a children's book, it has won the Waterstone's award for the best children's gift book in 2018, but is equally endearing for adults to read too.

Fully illustrated throughout, this gorgeous volume collects 366 poems inspired by nature, from historical to modern-day poets, including: John Agard, William Blake, Emily Bronte, Charles Causley, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, John Updike, William Wordsworth and many more.

It's a wonderful investment to share with your family, whether you choose to read a poem before bed in the evening, or simply dip into throughout the year.


Sweet Peas for Summer - How to Create a Garden in a Year by Laetitia Maklouf


The seasoned gardeners among you will be aware of the myriad of books to help you through the year. Sadly, my fingers are far from green, so when browsing for content I was thrilled to learn that Laetitia Maklouf had written a sequel to The Virgin Gardener (Glamumous review here) which is delightful!

Maklouf's style of writing is truly accessible to those of us who know little of gardening.In Sweet Peas for Summer, she takes us through the process of creating a garden which can be enjoyed year-round, including projects to make with your home-grown plants and planting ideas for every personality type.

Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day by Clemency Burton-Hill


Clemency Burton-Hill had the wonderful idea of assigning a piece of classical music for every day of the year, complemented by enthusiastic descriptions of her choices and a little background about each composer.

This is ideal for anyone who would like to learn more about classical music, and from the reviews I've read on Amazon, it appears that seasoned enthusiasts enjoy new discoveries too! To accompany the book, you can find playlists on Spotify or Apple Music in order to avoid sourcing 365 separate downloads.

A Year of Reading Aloud by Georgina Rodgers


I discovered this gem on the inspiration shelf at my local library. Obviously the beautiful cover caught my eye, but upon reading the description I realised this stood apart from the other "year of poetry" books I'd looked at in it's premise.

Rogers created this book to help us revive the lost art of reading aloud, and the learning of poetry by heart. Perhaps many of my generation remember having been "forced" to learn a poem or two at school, wondering why our teachers encouraged us to experience such a seemingly pointless exercise. The fact is, reading aloud has hidden benefits: it strengthens the mind, boosts creativity and improves our working memory.

Give it a try and see for yourself! And if you disagree, at least you'll have a beautiful book with which to decorate your shelves...

The Harvard Classics in a Year: A Liberal Education in 365 Days


I hope you may forgive this shameless self-promotion once you realise what a fantastic tome this is!

The Harvard Classics in a Year aims to provide a whirlwind tour of classic literature. By reading for just 15 minutes a day throughout the year, you can discover text from “twelve main divisions of knowledge” including History, Poetry, Natural Science, Philosophy, Biography, Prose Fiction, Criticism and the Essay, Education, Political Science, Drama, Voyages and Travel and Religion. Each reading is framed by an introduction, a context in which the text can be read and understood, often with insightful information about the author, it's wider history, or why that particular selection is appropriate reading for that day.

Available only in digital format, this is a mammoth book which will most certainly see you through a whole year of bedtime reading - all for less than a cup of takeaway coffee!


Girl for All Seasons (A Year in High Heels) by Camilla Morton


Camilla Morton's sequel to her bestselling "How to Walk in High Heels" is a book I've featured before on Glamumous. Despite being published twelve years ago, I still find it relevant and inspiring.

The Year in High Heels is much more about experiences than fashion and beauty - though of course Morton will assure you that you can do it all with style!

The book is divided into twelve months, each featuring fun essays, a set of challenges and a suggested read for your book club. Many guest authors have contributed, including Manolo Blahnik and Dita von Tease. Combined with Morton's witty prose, this is a great book to dip into throughout a glamorous year.

French Women For All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes & Pleasure by Mireille Guilliano


By the author of French Women Don't Get Fat, this is a wonderful book of seasonal recipes and simple pleasures.

Mireille Guilliano encourages us to eat for pleasure, to savour our food while also (miraculously) maintaining a healthy weight. Far more than a simple book of recipes, this title encourages to examine how we live, and to take simple pleasure in our lives. I rather enjoy re-reading Guilliano's outlook throughout the changing seasons.

A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy



During the final 15 or so years of his life, Leo Tolstoy collected and published the maxims of some of the world's greatest masters of philosophy, religion and literature, adding his own contributions to various questions that preoccupied him in old age, such as faith and existence, as well as matters of everyday life.

Originally, this book was banned in Tolstoy's native communist Russia. Although his last major work, this book proved popular both during and after his lifetime, offering readers a daily delve into the thoughts and writings which had influenced him so greatly.

This version was originally translated into English and printed during the 1970's, and resurrected in the current format just a few years ago. It's a lovely book to dip in and out of, or to read first thing in the morning as brain-fodder for the day ahead.

What are your favourite year-round books?

This selection provides just a few of the "year-round" books I discovered while researching for this article, though I will say they are my favourites (I own almost all of them, and have borrowed the others!). Have I missed your favourite title? Please feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions below.


Header image credit: David Morgan, via Flickr.

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