HomeFeaturesBook ListsBeyond Anne of Green Gables: Cottagecore Reading Recommendations for Spring

Beyond Anne of Green Gables: Cottagecore Reading Recommendations for Spring

What exactly is Cottagecore? Well, really it is just another a millenial/Gen Z social construct (much like Dark Academia) that really has no “definition” and is more of a general aesthetic that idealizes rural life (for better, for worse.) Romanticizing the focus on rural pastimes of a “simpler time” – foraging, baking, pottery making, flowers and gardening. The recommendations in this article are going to be full of gardens, forests, wildflowers, baking, a wee bit of magic, and a strong connection to nature. Even better? These are mostly easy, breezy, and feel good reads to be enjoyed with the windows open while letting in all that fresh, spring breeze.

The Cottingley Secret book coverThe Cottingley Secret

Written by Hazel Gaynor

Published by William Morrow & Company

I have wanted to make an article that could include this special little book for ages – and here it is! What is more Cottagecore than English countryside manors, gardens, and fairies? In this story you’ll meet two young girls who, in 1917, stunned the world when they captured a picture of fairies in the garden and launched great global interest as to the authenticity of the photo. 100 years later, Olivia Kavanaugh finds the photograph in her late grandfather’s bookshop and begins her own research – discovering her own personal connection to the photograph and the girls at the centre of this great mystery.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Jane Austen Society book coverThe Jane Austen Society

Written by Natalie Jenner

Published by St. Martin’s Press

This is a tender, slow moving story about a desperate group of people who come together through their shared loved of Jane Austen stories. Set in post-WWII England in a small, sleepy village, this book is simply charming and joyful. While those with strong Jane Austen knowledge will benefit more from this novel, I (with passing knowledge from the movies) did just fine. A nice, feel-good read.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Garden Spells book coverGarden Spells

Written by Sarah Addison Allen

Published by Bantam Discovery

I know, it’s ridiculous the amount of times I recommend Sarah’s books, but I can’t help it. They have that special combination of magical realism and southern charm that I adore. Nothing is more Cottagecore than her debut novel Garden Spells that follows the Waverly women in their small hometown in North Carolina. Each possessing their own unique “gifts”, it’s a lovely story of belonging and becoming written with prose that is a sensory feast. If food, sisterhood, small town community, and magical gardens are your thing – check this one out pronto.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Written by Kelly Barnhill

Published by Algonquin Young Readers

Another author that writes with such visceral intensity you feel simply transported, this highly acclaimed middle grade story is truly beautiful. A small community who, foolishly, every year leave a baby in the forest as a sacrifice to the witch who lives there. But this witch, Xan, is gentle and kind, always rescuing the babies and finding them homes in nearby cities. One night she accidentally feeds the sacrificed baby pure moonlight, empowering her with great magical power. Naming her Luna, Xan raises her as her own. While Luna’s power continues to grow, the villagers are rising against the forest witch with murderous intent and this one extraordinary girl is the key to everyone’s protection. This story is written with such strong, beautiful imagery and respect for nature – from the forests, to the swamp creature, to Xan’s garden, making it a perfect Cottagecore recommendation.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Music of BeesThe Music of Bees

Written by Eileen Garvin

Published by Dutton Books

Maybe not your traditional Cottagecore story, but I believe this still fits the bill as it follows a passionate bee keeper, living on a small farm outside a small town, as she fights for her local environment and the protection of the precious, fragile bees. Interconnecting three stories – high school senior Jake who has been bound to a wheelchair after a freak accident, 24-year-old Harry who suffers from crippling social anxiety, and 44-year-old Alice who grieves for her husband and worries her life hasn’t turned out the way she’d hoped. Together, along with healing power of nature and bees, will find joy and solace and strength in one another. This is such a feel good story that deserves much more attention. You’ll learn so much about glorious, wonderful bees!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wildwood Whispers

Written by Willa Reece

Published by Redhook

Maybe THE most Cottagecore book on this list, this one is for anyone who loves slow, magical stories centring around gardens, lush forests, the slow comforts of baking, and friendship. While not exactly lighthearted, this story does have a very dark undercurrent, but it paces along with an almost meditative prose that enlivens and evokes all the senses of taste, touch and site, leaving the reader quite comforted. Mel, who has grown up with no family, bouncing among foster placements, finds her forever home when she returns to her best friend’s small town to scatter her ashes. Here she will learn the power of connection, friendship, and the healing powers of nature.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wild Beauty

Written by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by Square Fish

A little out-there, a whole lotta weird, magical realism and a plethora of flowers combine in this entirely unique story from Anna-Marie McLemore. Following the women of the Nomeolvides family who, for generations, have been responsible for the upkeep and care of the world famous gardens on the island of La Pradera. They hide a painful family secret: if any of them fall too deeply in love, their lover will vanish. Until a strange boy appears one day in their gardens …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Midnight at the Blackbird CafeMidnight at the Blackbird Cafe

Written by Heather Webber

Published by Forge

Another writer of comforting southern fiction with a tinge of the magical, this is my favourite Webber novel … likely because it centres in a small town cafe and I’m a sucker for a cafe/restaurant setting. Anna Kate returns to the small Alabama town of Wicklow to bury her beloved Granny and settle her estate – including the famous Blackbird Cafe – before returning to her city life. But life in this little town and the running of the cafe might just be what she needs to heal her heart from past wounds and discover the secrets of her mother’s decision to flee her home. Like a Hallmark movie, this is a sweet story to sit down with over a glass of iced tea on a warm spring day!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Echo Mountain book coverEcho Mountain

Written by Lauren Wolk

Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers

This is one of the very rare stories that totally encapsulates a sense of place though quiet description, patient prose, and the author’s own extensive knowledge, which combine for extremely vivid world building. This middle grade story follows Ellie and her family after they lose their home in the Great Depression and move to an untamed section of mountainous forest with very few possessions. At first living in a tent and gradually building a small cabin, their lives are full of extremely difficult, dangerous work and one day Ellie’s father is hurt in an accident and falls into a coma. The family blame Ellie for this accident and the story follows the weeks afterward as Ellie, along with some new friends – including the “old hag” from up the mountain – work with the land and environment to cure her father. There isn’t a story on this list that is so fully connected to, descriptive of, and respectful to nature.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

Written by Jeanne Birdsall

Published by Yearling Books

This middle grade reads like an old-time classic story, even though it was published in 2005. A summer full of fresh air and youthful shenanigans on a grande estate as a family of four sisters and their father rent out a tiny cottage on the property. This story is full of frolicking in nature, young dramas, and a great big heart of hopefulness, making it one entirely delightful, smiling treat of a read!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Kate Morton

Really, most of Kate Morton’s stories would fit the Cottagecore vibe as the majority of her novels centre in old English country gardens, estates, and manors. Usually told in dual timeline between past and present, a long unsolved mystery is slowly unravelled amidst the beautiful backdrop of the English countryside. For fans of slow historical fiction with beautifully detailed descriptive writing, I always love a Kate Morton novel. Some of my personal favourites are The Secret Keeper and The House at Riverton.

You can find her books here: Bookshop.org

In the Light of the Garden book coverIn the Light of the Garden

Written by Heather Burch

Published by Lake Union Publishing

Another reads-like-a-Hallmark-movie, this story takes us to the Gulf Coast of Florida where a young woman returns to the incredible home of her grandparents after her grandpa passes and leaves the estate to her, the place were all her magical summers were spent as a child. A magical willow tree and garden, a hunky landscaping neighbour, small town community, finding family, healing and forgiving all combine in this light and breezy read.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


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