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Interviews, Recommendations, and More

Shelf Talkers for September

Books about magic, new frontiers in sex, resistance, forgetful elephants, and environmental devastation.

With September comes back-to-school reading lists (well, except in BC, where the main texts seem to be Supreme Court rulings, political skullduggery, and opinion pieces), new books to delight and illuminate readers. Booksellers across the country are in the same boat, poring over new releases and advance copies to keep abreast of all that is new as the busy fall season kicks into gear. This month's Shelf Talkers is chock-a-block with new books just waiting to meet you.



The Bookseller: Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Black Bond Books, Lynn Valley, BC

The Pick: The Confabulist, by Steven Galloway

"This book is absolutely magical! How did Houdini really die? And what did our only-somewhat-reliable narrator, Martin, have to do with Houdini's death? Galloway weaves together the two men's stories with just enough mystery, drama, and magic to make you wonder what's really happening at all times. This book had me intrigued to the last page!"


The Bookseller: Carolyn Gillis, King’s Co-op Bookstore, Halifax, NS

The Pick: Hot, Wet, and Shaking, by Kayleigh Trace

"Hot, Wet, and Shaking is a great book. Kayleigh works at Venus Envy in Halifax and consequently is less inhibited in her life than the average person. She is very upfront about her experiences with sex and being a disabled woman. I wondered if this book would be for me as I am a 50-year-old woman, but I loved it. It's a book for most people because walking a mile in Kayleigh's shoes is an eye-opening experience. Kayleigh opened my eyes to how a job can change your life and attitudes and open your mind to infinite possiblities. Her book also spoke to me on a feminist level and made me think about how much things haven't changed in the last few decades. 
I highly recommend Hot, Wet, and Shaking."


The Bookseller: Lee Trentadue, Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, BC

The Pick: Sweetland, by Michael Crummey

"I had the luxury of reading Michael Crummey's Sweetland in one sitting. This is a beautifully written novel, atmospheric and haunting from beginning to end.

Sweetland, the place, is a metaphor for Newfoundland and the places there that we are losing. Moses Sweetland is a man who recognizes what will be lost and holds out against the forces that surround him that are conspiring to take it all away. The people of Sweetland are all too human in their frailties and Crummey draws them so well that we connect with their stories, their struggles, and their pain. He uses their voice, their local accents, and their humour—often black—in a way that brings the place alive for the reader.

The themes of mourning and struggle against a frequently unforgiving climate are wrought from the first page to the last, leaving the reader (at least this reader) in a gorgeous, contemplative mood. This is a novel that will stay with me and I hope that it finds a place in the hearts of all who have the pleasure of reading it."


The Bookseller: Heather Kuipers, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, Toronto, ON

The Pick: Nancy Knows, by Cybele Young

"Nancy remembers a lot of things, quite what you would expect of an elephant. But oh no, something important has been forgotten! Did it have wheels? Was it a place to go? A place to relax? As she sifts through her memories, readers are delighted to see hundreds of items meticulously sculpted from paper. They fill her simple line-drawn body, swirling about from hot air balloons to tiny chairs. This picture book is an absolute delight for all lovers of creative ingenuity and mini things. While the text will appeal to children aged 2–5, the illustrations are ageless and fascinating for everyone. Oh, and what has Nancy forgotten? Turn to the last page, of course! For home and school library with equal appeal."



The Bookseller: Tracey Higgins, Bryan Prince Bookseller, Hamilton, ON
The Pick: The Back of the Turtle, by Thomas King

"Thomas King turns to topical issues in his much-anticipated new novel, The Back of the Turtle. Gabriel Quinn is a brilliant scientist haunted by the knowledge that his work resulted in an environmental catastrophe that killed many, including members of his own family. He travels to witness the effects of his work and there encounters a determined group of people who wait and plan for the return of life and community to their ruined landscape. Juxtaposed against this story is the tale of a Toronto executive who is more concerned with stock prices, real estate, and domestic discord than the real-life devastation caused by his company. The Back of the Turtle has moments of laughter and pathos, characters who are all the more engaging for their flaws and a storytelling style that keeps you reading long into the night."

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