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Shelf Talkers: Mysterious Disappearances, Bad Endings & Utopia in BC

Including a Canadian icon, a hot new must-read, a business visionary, a stunning short story debut, and utopian inspiration.

Brace yourself: what I’m about to say may be shocking.

Are you ready?

It’s May.

In fact, it’s not just May – it’s the May long weekend. Go ahead, check your calendar. You’ll see.

Yes, the May long weekend. Victoria Day. The May 2-4. The unofficial start of Canada’s summer.

Well, most years. This year? Perhaps not so much. It’s been a very strange spring across the country. Virtually non-existent in some places. And now it’s time to open up the cottage? To chill out on a dock? To meet friends on a patio?

Fear not – we’re Canadian. We can do all those things, no matter the weather. We’ll just have to remember to pack a raincoat. And possibly a parka. And definitely a book. Or two.

For readers, Canada basically has two seasons: indoor reading, and outdoor reading. And while the variability of the weather might blur those seasons a bit this year, we’re nothing if not adaptable: sunglasses and cold drinks al fresco when the sun is shining, a cozy quilt and a hot beverage indoors when the skies turn grey. It all works out in the end.

But what to read?

Funny you should ask.

To kick off the summer reading season, Canada’s dedicated (and compulsive) independent booksellers have compiled a sterling selection of possibilities, from a Canadian icon to a hot new must-read, from a business visionary to a stunning short story debut, and more. A word of advice, though, given the weather? You might want to pack a couple of books. Just to be safe.



The Bookseller: David Worsley, Words Worth Books (Waterloo, ON)

The Pick: So Much Love, by Rebecca Rosenblum

There are plenty of crime novels of late that deal with a lost girl in a myriad of ways, but Rebecca Rosenblum's So Much Love is a decidedly literary take on things.

Catherine vanishes outside the restaurant where she works, and there are disparate takes on the disappearance, but the novel’s reveals come about slowly and in a much more plausible and human way until all fates become "known" to the extent possible.

There are no jarring shocks, no tropes; just a very well crafted and meditative work that more than delivers on Rosenblum's earlier work, chiefly her exquisite short story collection, Once.



The Bookseller: Jenn Hubbs, Curiosity House Books (Creemore, Ontario)

The Pick: This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence, by Terry O'Reilly

The essential book for the small business or self-marketer who wants all the advice a big ad firm would give to you, without having to hire them. Fans of O’Reilly’s CBC show will appreciate his voice and anecdotes throughout the book.


The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)

The Pick: Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

My household has been hooked on the new CBC series based on Anne of Green Gables and it has rekindled my love of the books. In Anne, Lucy Maud Montgomery has created one of the most loved characters in Canadian literature. If you haven’t had the delight to read the story you are in for a wonderful treat, and if you have read them I can attest that they hold up to re-reading year after year. It is the type of book that one can open to any page and find a passage that will make it impossible to read without smiling. It is a book that is always kept in the children’s section of the store but really deserves to be read at every stage of one’s life, as each time you go back you are bound to find something new to love.



The Bookseller: James Irvine, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)

The Pick: Bad Endings, by Carleigh Baker

A superb collection of short stories awaits the reader of this book. Each story left me wanting to read more. Take this book to lunch; take it for coffee or a nice glass of wine. A great companion. Carleigh Baker is a new and exciting voice in Canadian literature.


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


The Pick: The Promise of Paradise: Utopian Communities in British Columbia, by Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott has expanded on his earlier version with this reissue of his book.

With the BC election not quite behind us, and with votes still to be counted, it might be a good time to look at alternate lifestyles that various groups, disenchanted with the status quo, have tried in our province. Our current situation with our populations split on the directions that our politicians should take for the future of our citizens may have many of us considering the options of a different way to live. A great spring read for sure.

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