It’s time for the languorous days of August, those days of carefully conserved motion, constant hydration, and the gradual ebbing away of cares on waves of summer’s bliss ...
That’s the theory, anyway. As we all know, sometimes it doesn’t quite work out as planned.
For Canada’s independent booksellers, August marks the start of the fall book season, which this year looks more impressive than ever. But that’s all still to come. Here’s what our hardy booksellers have been reading and recommending in their stores recently.
We’ll start off with a new member of the Shelf Talkers’ community, Tracey, from Bryan Prince Bookseller, and we’ll finish with a hot one from Lindsay out on Galiano Island.
The Bookseller: Tracey Higgins, Bryan Prince Bookseller, Hamilton, ON
The Pick: The Whisper of Legends, by Barbara Fradkin
"This mystery by Ottawa author, Barbara Fradkin, takes place in the wilds of the Northwest Territories. Inspector Green has gone to search for his daughter who went missing during a canoeing expedition. While searching the wilderness, he becomes embroiled in a case that involves murder, corruption, and the dirty business of northern mining. I had a great time reading this book, especially the plot involving underhanded dealings with protected lands up north. The isolation of the Nahanni River lends itself very well to the psychological, sometimes eerie, aspects of the mystery."
The Bookseller: Samantha Fraenkel, Book Warehouse on Broadway, Vancouver, BC
The Pick: Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, by Janet Cameron
"Don't judge this book by either the title or the cover. Picking this one up and reading the back I was expecting a much different story than the one that was actually between the covers. And I'm really glad because this was a wonderful coming-of-age and coming out story. In 1987 Nova Scotia, Stephen Shulevitz, with three months to go before graduating high school, realizes he's fallen in love with the wrong person: his best friend, Mark. Be warned, this is a very hard read at times, especially since it deals with a young gay man in the 80s in a small town; Cameron does not sugarcoat what an experience like this would be like. An excellent first novel and an author to watch."
The Bookseller: David Worsley, Words Worth Books, Waterloo, ON
The Pick: Where The Air Is Sweet, by Tasneem Jamal
"Kitchener's Tasneem Jamal has put together a rock-solid first novel with Where The Air is Sweet. Set in 1920s' Uganda, the novel tells the story of one of many South Asian immigrant families who emigrated for a shot at a better life. Raju is the patriarch whose entrepreneurial smarts result in a thriving merchant concern, and all is well until Idi Amin engineers a military coup and whips up anti-Asian sentiment. By this time Raju's a grandfather and his large family is under direct threat, forcing them to leave the only home they've ever known.
The notion of home as a shifting ideal, and the immigrant experience (the novel winds up in Canada) is smartly explored, and Jamal's writing is both fluid and controlled. She does many small things well in this novel and the result is something that should show up in the fall around Giller time. Watch this one: it's a beauty."
The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books, Victoria, BC
The Pick: Heart & Soil, by Des Kennedy
"For those of us who like the idea of gardening slightly more than the actual practice of it, Des Kennedy's Heart & Soil makes for a perfect read in the shade. A collection of Kennedy's best gardening essays, Heart & Soil is bound to leave a smile on your face and at least a desire to feel the earth between your fingers."
The Bookseller: Lindsay Williams, Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, BC
The Pick: Juliet Was A Surprise: Stories, by Bill Gaston
"Do you recognize Bill Gaston's name as one of the most amazing BC writers ever, but keep walking because this is a story collection and not a meaty novel a la The World? Don't pass Juliet by. This is a sumptuous collection of stories. Each one is huge and soaring in its own way. I was completely hooked at the first story, and loved it all the way through.
It's a brilliant collection ... a guaranteed good read. Devour it with some potato chips and a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Or whatever you like to devour alongside quality, endearing, and sexy fiction. (Oh yes, it's sexy. Just enough.)"
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