Shelf Talkers: March 2016

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious

ee cummings knows what he’s talking about. While parts of the country are still struggling with the last lingering vestiges of winter, spring is upon us, with new buds, new mud, new puddles, new books...

You knew where that was going, right?

One of the great things about Canada’s independent booksellers is their depth of knowledge, internal databases spanning decades, incorporating hundreds of titles and authors, thousands of characters. It’s the work of a lifetime. And it’s ongoing work. Good booksellers are not only steeped in, and knowledgeable of, the past, they’re also wired in to the present, devouring new books and Advance Reading Copies to keep abreast not only with what’s new, but with what’s to come.

For the March installment of the Shelf Talkers column, we’ve asked our assembled booksellers to weigh in on new favourites, perfect—when the weather cooperates—for reading al fresco.

***

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

The Pick: Carry Me, by Peter Behrens

Europe between the first and second world wars. Historical fiction at its best. Behren captures a Europe fraught with danger, anxiety, and loss. If you want to get lost in a book, pick up this one! You will fall in love with the story of a family, with Billy and Karin, the central characters, as they struggle through the chaos of war.

**

The Bookseller: Barb Pope, The Mulberry Bush Bookstore (Parksville & Qualicum Beach, BC)
The Pick: Becoming Lin, by Tricia Dower

I found myself turning the pages of this splendidly written novel with increasing admiration as I resonated with Lin's bravery in daring to leave behind a predictable life with her pastor husband and seek a new life authentic to herself. All the themes of the turbulent era of the 1960s & '70s are here: African American civil rights, Vietnam war resistance, the CIA's war against the resisters, sisterhood and the push for equal rights for women, new-age metaphysics, motivational psychology and the unraveling of a traditional marriage. With exacting prose and wonderfully realistic characterizations, the author unmasks the deep questions of faith and truth that exist within marriage.

**

The Bookseller: Chadwick Ginther of University of Manitoba Bookstore (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The Pick: Underworld, by Lovern Kindzierski, illustrated by GMB Chomichuk

Underworld unites two of Winnipeg’s brightest creators in the graphic novel field for the first time. Lovern Kindzierski’s semi-autobiographical tale transposes the themes of Homer’s Odyssey on Winnipeg’s grimy downtown streets, making it a perfect match for GMB Chomichuk’s layered art, which excels when depicting the city and its monsters. Underworld is not to be missed by comic, mythology, and crime fiction buffs alike.

**

The Bookseller: Tracey Higgins, Bryan Prince Booksellers (Hamilton, ON)
The Pick: Quantum Night, by Robert J. Sawyer

Where to start in recommending Quantum Night? Robert J. Sawyer’s new novel is set in the very near future. The author has created a plausible, unpleasant future in which new discoveries in psychology and quantum physics might be the only hope for stemming a rising tide of violence and unrest. The novel is fast-paced and thoroughly engaging, questioning what we should do to save humanity given the necessary knowledge and technology. Quantum Night examines philosophy, morals, ethics, and science in the context of a society that is slightly different, but completely recognizable to us in 2016, and takes on an added element of foreboding when one considers the current political drama taking place in the United States.

**

The Bookseller: Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)
The Pick: The Crooked Heart of Mercy, by Billie Livingston

This is a beautiful yet heartbreaking book about family and love. A tragedy drives Ben and Maggie far apart as they attempt to live after unimaginable loss. Ben is institutionalized after a possible suicide attempt and Maggie is frozen with grief. How can they heal their wounds? Billie Livingston has written another excellent novel that showcases strong yet flawed characters who you can't help but love. Read this one and then read all her other novels, you won't be disappointed.

March 29, 2016
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