Listen, do you hear that?
That’s the sound of hearts breaking across the country as another summer comes to a close. I know, you don’t want to talk about it, or acknowledge the reality of the situation, but it’s time. The leaves have already started to turn here in Victoria, and the nights are growing cool. There might be a renewed blast in September, but the truth is undeniable: the summer is on the wane. Fall is upon us, and winter (forgive me, Tyrion Lannister) is coming.
For some, though, the end of summer is a blessing. Yes, I’m talking about readers.
With the cooling of the year comes the fall book season, a treasure trove of new releases and prize shortlists, award ceremonies, and new favourites. But what are you to do? How will you possibly navigate the torrents of new releases flooding into the world?
Well, you should ask an expert. Perhaps one of our celebrated independent booksellers, custodians of the printed page. But why stop at one? Why not look to a number of these heroic readers from across the country?
Here, with their first recommendations of the fall, a selection of hot new reads for kids and adults (and those in between), along with a timely old favourite, are some of Canada’s finest booksellers. Spring, summer, fall, winter, they’re here for all of us, constantly reading, and eager to share what they’ve found.
The Bookseller: Kim Ferguson, Kaleidescope Kids’ Books (Ottawa, ON)
The Pick: The Pocket Mommy, by Rachel Eugster
Samuel isn’t sure about going to Kindergarten without Mommy so he takes a tiny Pocket Mommy tucked into his shirt pocket. It’s fun having a Pocket Mommy at first, to help out when needed, but then Samuel realizes that he doesn’t really need her after all and he likes learning how to do things himself. This is a great story to ease those fears of starting school.
The Bookseller: Lee Trentadue, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: The Parcel, by Anosh Irani
I have been waiting too many years for Anosh's next book and it is just days away now from arriving! I can't wait to introduce our readers to this wonderful novelist and put a new book in the hands of his fans. I still remember being astonished by The Cripple and His Talismans, back in 2004. You will fall in love with Madhu, a transgender sex worker in the red-light district of Bombay who is given an unexpected task. Anosh is an Indian-Canadian novelist and playwright. He writes of complex and difficult lives in a place that throws every kind of hellish curveball at its most vulnerable citizens. This will be one of Canada's great reads for 2016!
The Bookseller: Jenn Hubbs, Curiosity House Books (Creemore, Ontario)
The Pick: Howard Wallace, P.I., by Casey Lyall
Howard Wallace is the best P.I. money can buy at Grantleyville Middle School—well, he's actually the only P.I., at least until new kid Ivy Mason convinces him to let her join his investigations. Twelve-year-old Howard is smart, observant, and more than a little lonely as he attempts to live by his list of rules of investigation, so Ivy's refreshing sass is just what he needs to get a new perspective on things. Lyall's funny and distinctively noir-styled voice will engage readers as they follow Howard and his "junior partner" as they face bullies, full-on drama (club) action, sabotage, blackmail and suspicious teachers, all while trying to get their homework completed.
The plot is ridiculously fun, and the turns of phrase in this debut middle-grade novel will leave readers of all ages snickering ("Walking through Marvin's store was like walking through a graveyard of questionable life choices."). I could see this being a perfect choice for both mystery buffs and classroom readalouds.
The Bookseller: Yvette Caradonna, Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore (Toronto, Ontario)
The Pick: Every Hidden Thing, by Kenneth Oppel
A historical novel set in the second half of the nineteenth century in the wilds of the American West, Every Hidden Thing is fast-paced and full of action, adventure, romance, and dinosaurs. Who could ask for anything more!
The Bookseller: Chadwick Ginther of University of Manitoba Bookstore (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The Pick: The Courier, by Gerald Brandt
Brandt's novel-length debut is a taut cyberpunk thrill ride. The Courier's fantastic narrator and gritty locale—mega-city San Angeles—channels Gibson and delivers on every level.
The Bookseller: David Worsley, Words Worth Books (Waterloo, ON)
The Pick: The Best Kind of People, by Zoe Whittall
The Best Kind of People is a taut, unrelenting and propulsive story of a New England high-school teacher accused of sexual misconduct. The familial struggle with guilt, denial, association and some dredged-up detritus, combined with a novelist in search of a badly needed perfect hook, make this a perfect late-summer read. Think Jonathan Franzen or Lionel Shriver with a lighter touch.
This is a literary novel with gas in the tank, and even though you know this will end messily, it's impossible to look away. Whittall has always been fearless (Bottle Rocket Hearts, Holding Still for as Long as Possible) but this one is a career-maker.
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