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Quick Hits: Dirt, Time Travel, Love, and Gossip

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.



Eating Dirt, by Charlotte Gill

Genre: Literary Non-Fiction

Publisher: Greystone Books

What It's About

Eating Dirt is an extended postcard from the cut blocks—a vivid portrayal of one woman's life planting trees, her insights into the forest industry and its environmental implications, and a celebration of the wonder of trees.

Charlotte Gill spent almost twenty years working as a tree planter in the forests of Canada. During her million-tree career, she encountered hundreds of clear-cuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world. Charged with sowing the new forest in these clear-cuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers.

What People Say

“Eating Dirt will likely get passed, dog-eared and mud-stained around planting bush camps for seasons to come, and reading it will take retired treeplanters back to the thrilling agony of the cut blocks and slash piles they thought they had left behind, but it should also serve as a useful reminder to those who have never seen a clearcut up close: With every passing year we lose more and more of the woodlands that sustain us, and currently the only thing that comes close to replacing them is a small band of ragged fortune seekers, rebuilding our forests one tree at a time.”—National Post



All Good Children, by Catherine Austen

Genre: Children's Fiction (Middle-Grade/YA)

Publisher: Orca Books

What It's About

It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be "zombies" while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max's family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders, Max's creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.

"[If] you're looking for a great read for yourself or a teenager you know, Catherine Austen's novel All Good Children is an excellent choice...Austen provides many nuanced details of life in the near future, from facts on transportation and garbage disposal to the devastating effects of global warming. Strong characterization as well as a thrilling and horrifyingly plausible plot all combine to make All Good Children a wonderful read."—Montreal Review of Books



When I Was Young and In My Prime, by Alayna Munce

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Nightwood Editions

What It's About

What's left of us when we're gone? In When I Was Young and In My Prime, a young woman watches her grandparents begin to decline. As she sorts through the couple's belongings, she reflects on the untold stories and unsung bonds that make up our lives. Meanwhile, modern urban life places strains on her own marriage and on her sense of what, ultimately, we owe each other.

Weaving together voices, diary entries, poems, conversations and lists, When I Was Young and In My Prime cuts to the heart of our search for intimacy and family, for what makes life meaningful and love real. The result is a smart, moving novel about personal and cultural decline, dignity and work, the urban and the rural, the old and the new, and the search for something ageless.

What People Say

"With a refreshing absence of elegy or pathos, [Munce] has sketched a concise portrait of pain, failure and loss in four generations of a family, from revolutionary Ukraine to the grotty streets of a 'once-grand, now verging-on-squalid' Toronto neighbourhood... What's most striking about it all is the lightness of touch—and the gravity infusing it nonetheless... [M]oving, funny, full of hard truths."—Globe and Mail



Stories About Storytellers, by Douglas Gibson

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: ECW Press

What It's About

Spotlighting an extraordinary career, this autobiography reviews Douglas Gibson’s accomplishments working—and playing— alongside some of Canada’s greatest writers. These humorous chronicles relate the projects he brainstormed for writer Barry Broadfoot, how he convinced eventual Nobel Prize contender Alice Munro to keep writing short stories, his early morning phone call from a former Prime Minister, and his recollection of yanking a manuscript right out of Alistair MacLeod’s own reluctant hands—which ultimately garnered MacLeod one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for fiction.

Insightful and entertaining, this collection of tales provides an inside view of Canadian politics and publishing that is rarely revealed, going behind the scenes and between the covers to divulge a treasure trove of literary adventures.

What People Say

"Gibson is a gossip of the first order, the kind who tells all, or at least enough, about his Subjects' foibles, but always in a way that delights in their eccentricities. He writes with charming exuberance."—The Walrus



Light Light, by Julie Joosten

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: BookThug

What It's About

Moving from the Enlightenment science of natural history to the contemporary science of global warming, Light Light is a provocative engagement with the technologies and languages that shape discourses of knowing. It bridges the histories of botany, empire, and mind to take up the claim of "objectivity" as the dissolution of a discrete self and thus explores the mind's movement toward and with the world. The poems in Light Light range from the epigrammatic to the experimental, from the narrative to the lyric, consistently exploring the way language captures the undulation of a mind's working, how that rhythm becomes the embodiment of thought, and how that embodiment forms a politics engaged with the environment and its increasing alterations.

What People Say

"Light Light is not light, but light-filled. Philosophical, lyrical, inventive, and erudite, precise and startlingly perceptive, it invites the reader to attend to wonder." —Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Jury Citation

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