A little caution is perhaps in order.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. After a winter that was starting to seem Narnia-like in its duration, it seems as if spring has finally arrived for much of the country. Patios are filling up, convertibles are cruising the streets, and shorts and sundresses are making their annual reappearance. Heck, I walked to and from a meeting last night wearing only a t-shirt! (I was also, before you panic, wearing pants. It’s the lack of long sleeves that’s significant, not some weird seasonal partial nudism.)
It’s finally over, a country seems to be sighing.
I hate to be gloomy, but someone has to say it: we’ve been fooled before.
In fact, I was fooled just a month ago, when I wrote about spring’s arrival in Victoria, only to be faced with cutting, icy winds, torrential rain, and a world of mood-altering greyness.
I should have known better.
Winter might be on the wane, but there will likely still come a day or two, even now, where you end up shivering, dressed for a dream of summer just in time for winter’s encore.
Cautious optimism, then.
The independent booksellers in this month’s Shelf Talkers column have a selection of picks perfect for this time of year, books that will take you out of your world whether you’re able to make it out of your reading chair or not. Prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Books of journeys and discovery, books of worlds to explore, books of new beginnings.
Books for spring, in fact. (I knocked wood as I typed that, hoping not to jinx things.)
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to make an afternoon of it: visit your local independent bookstore, then make a beeline for the nearest patio to spend some time with these gifted writers. Don’t forget your sunglasses, and your sunscreen. And maybe a sweater. Just in case.
The Bookseller: Vaughn Naylor, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: Summer of the Horse, by Donna Kane
Get ready for an incredible adventure, a memoir of nature and its transformative power. After leaving her marriage of 25 years in search of personal meaning, Donna immerses herself in the immensity of the natural world. Her path eventually crosses with an injured horse that she must care for. During this period, and her journey across the Muskwa-Kechika protected area (aka the Serengeti of the North), she reflects on her new relationship with nature. It's an unforgettable true story of a woman who takes her life in her own hands, gives it to nature, and makes it into something new.
The Bookseller: Lesley Wilkins of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Break, by Katherena Vermette
Moving, powerful, and a testament to the strength and resilience of women. This award-winning novel will break your heart, then give you hope.
The Bookseller: James Tyler Irvine, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)
The Pick: Fighting for Space, by Travis Lupick
An excellent book awaits as you step behind the scenes of the Downtown Eastside. You'll discover the struggles and determination to establish Insite, Canada's first safe injection site. This book is brought to the reader with deep compassion and insight. Fighting for Space is a must read!
The Bookseller: Jack Garton, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: Cries From The Ark, by Dan MacIsaac
A multiglot of the natural world, MacIsaac's syntax bristles, seethes, bubbles and writhes. As close to being outside as a book can make you feel.
The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: The World’s Most Travelled Man, by Mike Spencer Brown
As the days get warmer, you may find yourself looking for inspiration for some summer travel. Few travellers can offer more wide-ranging advice than Mike Spencer Brown. In 1990, Brown packed a backpack and set off on a journey that would last 23 years and take him to every country in the world. Labelled "the patron saint of backpackers" Brown offers readers "an eye-opening account of the human experience as seen from each corner of the changing world."
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