Canadians have a strange relationship with summer.
Where is some places the season begins with the end of the school year, or the solstice (I know, I know, technically the summer solstice is midsummer, but that’s a cultural debate far too large and pedantic for this column), we Canadians kick off our summer much earlier.
Every year, the Victoria Day long weekend rolls around and the country, frankly, goes a little mad. Perhaps it’s because we’ve spent so much time in the grips of winter (I assume the celebrations this year will be especially frenzied), but the May 2–4 marks an orgiastic explosion of outdoor living. Cottages will be opened up, beaches will be packed, rivers will be tubed, gardens will be weeded, skis will be watered...
Wait. I don’t think that last one is right.
But what do I know? My idea of a perfect summer day is one spent with a cold beverage, a nice piece of shade, and a good book. (I was on the beach in Tofino this weekend, and was having a pretty good time, until I heard a suspicious sizzling sound, like bacon in a pan, only realizing too late that it was, in fact, me.) I might go for an occasional dip, but you can keep your boogie boards and diving rafts and the like—all I need is a towel to dry my hands and wipe my glasses so I can get back to my book.
I won’t speak for the weekend plans of our dedicated cohort of independent booksellers, but I will say this: they’ve selected a perfect batch of books for your long weekend reading pleasure. Some poetry, some non-fiction, some adult fiction and a bit of YA ... this column really has it all. And if you run out of things to read—truly a nightmarish possibility—you could always visit an independent bookstore in person.
So slather up with sunscreen (don’t miss the back of your neck—if you’re bent over a book, you will burn there, and it’s a very tender spot. Take my word for it.), stake out your patch of shade, and celebrate the beginning of summer Shelf Talkers style.
The Bookseller: Sue Saunderson of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson
This is a captivating story of a strong, capable young woman and and a rag tag group of survivors living in the Canadian North during the aftermath of nuclear strikes and a global pandemic. With themes of survival, lawlessness, intrigue, and cunning, The Wolves of Winter keeps the reader involved and hopeful that its heroine will live long enough to find her place in this new world and perhaps even find love ...
The Bookseller: Lee Trentadue, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: Whale in the Door, by Pauline Le Bel
I recently had the pleasure of hearing Pauline Le Bel read from her book Whale In the Door on Galiano Island, and was delighted by her account of falling in love with a place and sharing her experiences of learning about the history of Howe Sound and the environmental damages wrought by industrial contamination and how a community comes together to begin to reverse these. A wonderful and important book for our time.
The Bookseller: Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)
The Pick: The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
Read this important book! It is dark and will disturb you ... and it should. Brilliantly crafted and written, this story is so much more than a dystopian YA novel. Dimaline has created a terrifying future but also filled it with hope.
The Bookseller: Lesley Wilkins of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: Vi, by Kim Thuy
Kim Thuy’s Vi is the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read. This is the perfect book to curl up with at the end of a busy day.
The Bookseller: Jack Garton, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: A Generous Latitude: Poems, by Lenea Grace
Damn good writing. As weird and satisfying as slipping your foot into a random leather shoe that's perfectly molded to you.
The Bookseller: Vaughn Naylor, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: Chilcotin Chronicles, by Sage Birchwater
British Columbia is truly a wonderland of nature and history. Sage Birchwater’s The Chilcotin Chronicles collects stories which take you back to first European contact, a time in which Canada was already immensely diverse in its own dialects and spoken languages. Follow the friends, family, men, and women "caught in the interface of cultures." Experience the transformation of our coast and Canada as a whole, shaped by time and trade.
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