Shelf Talkers: Canada Day 2018 Edition!

tagged : Shelf Talkers

Dear Canada,

Well, this is a little awkward...

Sorry about that, eh?

But the fact is, we’ve been watching the calendar with a bit of ... dread is too strong a word. Let’s say “worry.” Because—and here’s the awkward bit—we have no idea what to get you for your big day. Seriously. What do you get a country that has everything?

And there’s a bit of uncertainty, too. Like, is this a birthday? An anniversary? It’s so confusing. And what IS the appropriate gift for 151 years, anyway?

We decided to go with what we know best: books. They’re perfect for any occasion, and there’s no one better for suggestions than the independent booksellers that call you home. So, here you go: an overfull basket of books to see you through the summer, including some classics and some new books, fiction and non-fiction, short stories and comics. And, naturally, a book about beer. Because what would your celebratory day be without beer?

And happy birthday... anniversary... whatever you want to call it, Canada.

You don’t look a day over 150.

With love,

Shelf Talkers

**

The Bookseller: Shelley Macbeth of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: Little Green, by Tish Cohen

With a tagline like, "How much pressure can a marriage take?" the bar is set and Cohen doesn't disappoint. Beautifully paced, with unexpected revelations at just the right moments, Cohen unfolds a tale of deep regret.

**

The Bookseller: Lee Trentadue, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: Any of Alice Munro’s stories

I would highly recommend dipping into any of these this summer: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; Alice Munro’s Best: A Selection of Stories; Runaway; The Love of a Good Woman, The Moons of Jupiter. I love entering Alice’s worlds.

**

The Bookseller: Lesley Wilkins of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Life Lucy Knew, by Karma Brown

A great book to curl up with on a summer morning with a cup of coffee. This story of one woman's struggle to live a life she has no recollection of, after a fluke head injury leaves her with no memory of the past four years of her life. I particularly enjoyed the direct references to Toronto's neighbourhoods and parks.

**

The Bookseller: Vaughn Naylor, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Honestly, what can I say about Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale that hasn't already been said? A classic dystopian novel in every sense, this may have actually been the first Canadian novel I knowingly read and fell in love with. Despite the shocking subject matter, for an ignorant 16-year-old cisgendered boy at least, I knew that I was reading something that was as important then as it was when it was first published. Now as I re-read it as an adult that feeling of necessity runs through me again with greater intensity than ever before. Let it be a testament to Atwood's foresight that The Handmaid’s Tale continues, to this day, to reflect our world in so many disturbing and unsightly ways (be it off the original page or the television adaptation). As a society, we need more books like The Handmaid’s Tale; books that won't shy away from the issues of today, yesterday, AND tomorrow. We need more books that will actively challenge us in the years to come as this Atwood classic will surely continue to do.

**

The Bookseller: Chadwick Ginther of University of Manitoba Bookstore (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The Pick: In the Eye of Heaven, by David Keck

What begins as a simple tale of a knight and his inheritance quickly becomes a story of courtly politics colliding with the magic of the Otherworld in a nation on the brink of collapse. I was so invested in Durand and his troubles, that I felt I was experiencing the magic along with him. With the first two books in the series being reissued, and a third, A King in Cobwebs, on the way, now is a perfect time to revisit this stellar fantasy world.

**

The Bookseller: Jack Garton , Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: Beautiful Losers, by Leonard Cohen

Written in 1965 and still one of the most confounding and beautiful of all Canadian novels, is Beautiful Losers Canadian history, pornographic poem, religious text, incoherent hallucination, all of the above? Completed on the Greek island of Hydra in a blaze of hash, acid, amphetamines, and sunstroke before his career as a songwriter began, it is a singular piece of art and a kind of Rosetta Stone to Cohen's subsequent, profoundly influential work. It will cure you of any lingering notion of Canada as a polite nation. 

**

powerofkindness

The Bookseller: Shelagh Fitz of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Power of Kindness, by Brian Goldman, MD

Emergency room physician Brian Goldman's investigation into his own fallibility on the compassion and empathy front, coupled with the stories he sought out of exceptionally empathetic individuals around the world, is an exercise in self-awareness. It is a stepping off point to consider our place in the world and how others perceive us. And the good news is, there is hope for all!

**
 

The Bookseller: Jim Schmidt, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies

Davies was one of those rare authors who produces psychologically complex and intricately constructed stories that still manage to engage and entertain the reader. In Fifth Business, childhood traumas, religion, stage magic, and the horrors of the World War I intertwine as the life of Dunstan Ramsay unfolds and, at times, unravels. Be warned: this is just the first book in Davies’ Deptford Trilogy and he's got two others, the Salterton and Cornish Trilogies. He’s a potato chip writer: once you start reading him it’s almost impossible to stop at just one book.

**

The Bookseller: Sue Saunderson of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Picks: Moral Disorder, by Margaret Atwood and Miranda Hill's Sleeping Funny

sleepingfunny

I’ve been thinking a lot about books celebrating wonderful Canadian authors. At this time of year I find reading a novel frustrating because I don’t have time to really immerse myself. We cottage, and consequently entertain most weekends, so I am drawn to short stories! I can read one early in the morning while our guests are sleeping or fishing, or at night before bed. I am a lover of the quick wit and concise writing that makes a great short story! One of my favourite classic Canadian books of short stories is Margaret Atwood’s Moral Disorder; the stories resonate still and evoke a range of emotions from laughter to tears! My current go-to is Miranda Hill’s Sleeping Funny; though not new it’s a great summer read and should be revisited!

**

boatpeople

The Bookseller: Yathu Radhakrishnan, Book Warehouse Main Street (Vancouver, BC)
The Pick: The Boat People, by Sharon Bala

The plight of immigrants is rarely seen from such an intimate point of view. If you're the child of immigrants who struggled to give you a life in Canada this book is one you must read.

**

The Bookseller: Lesley Wilkins of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman
A heart wrenching story of adoption in 1950s Quebec. This beautiful novel follows the lives of a young woman forced to give her baby up for adoption, and the baby girl as she grows into a woman. This story takes a dark time in Quebec history and weaves it into a beautifully insightful story you won't want to put down.

**

The Bookseller: Vaughn Naylor, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders

How much clutter do you have in your life? How much consumer debt do you have? Are these fair questions in today's world of hyper-production and hyper-consumption, when the internet (and some businesses, let's be real) essentially see you as money first, and a person second? Cait Flanders' The Year of Less will open your eyes to the possibility of "mindful consumption" in place of "mindless consumption" and takes you along her 12-month journey of purchasing nothing but consumable items. As the world seems to move further towards the idea that more is better, Cait wants to take you in the opposite direction and show that life can improve in innumerable ways once you start to shed the bulk that bogs you down. From getting out of crushing debt, having more time in the day, to having better mental health, the benefits of 'less' are something we should be touting more often. Pick up The Year of Less and start transforming your life today.

**

noone

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

The Pick: No One, by George Bowering

I highly recommend the latest of Mr. Bowering’s long list of publications. No One follows up on George’s Pin Boy and continues his character’s saga into adulthood. Yes, there is sex, and lots of it, and hilarity, but there is also pathos and pain. And the ending is delicious! I believe this is George Bowering at the top of his game!

**

The Bookseller: Shelley Macbeth of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: Elizabeth and After, by Matt Cohen

Set in small-town Ontario—vintage Cohen territory—Elizabeth and After is the interwoven story of two families and two time periods. An unrequited love story at its best.

**

fiddler

The Bookseller: Jack Garton , Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)
The Pick: The Fiddler Is a Good Woman, by Geoff Berner

As hilarious and smart as anything one would expect from Berner. This book gives voice to a segment of Canadian culture many might not know about—the vast and multivalent body of our cultural iceberg below the surface. The absent protagonist DD is one of those not-famous artists out there on the front lines, spending a lifetime laying bare what it is to be alive here in all its conflict and beauty, armed with nothing but her wit, vulnerability and the four tiny tight-rope wires of her violin.

**

The Bookseller: Shelagh Fitz of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON)
The Pick: The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence

“Well, you're young. You know a whole lot you won't know later on.” The truth of Lawrence's words, and the force of their meaning, grows exponentially as one ages. Point of reference altered by time changes the whole experience. Worth a re-read, or to be put on your list if this classic is new to you.

**

strangethings

The Bookseller: Jim Schmidt, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)

The Pick: Strange Things Done, by Elle Wild

When city slicker reporter Jo Silver goes to Dawson City in the Yukon to find the quiet life, she’s in for a surprise.  When a local politician turns up dead, Jo decides to run with the story but every step she takes reveals a new twist or turn in the road.  Was it suicide?  Murder? And if so, who did it?  This page turner will keep you guessing until the end.

**
The Bookseller: Chadwick Ginther of University of Manitoba Bookstore (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

The Pick: A Girl Called Echo Vol. 1: Pemmican Wars, by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk

A tale of two times brought to life by the multi-talented Katharena Vermette's informative and compelling writing, and the researched and dynamic illustrations and colours of Scott B. Henderson and Donvan Yaciuk. A Girl Called Echo melds a bunch of my favourite things: Manitoba stories, comics, and the fantastic, and I can`t wait to read more.

**

The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: Craft Beer Revolution, by Joe Wiebe

British Columbia is now home to more than 90 craft breweries, making it a beer lovers paradise. With so much choice, and likely not enough time to responsibly try it all in a summer, the second edition of Wiebe’s Craft Beer Revolution is an indispensable guide. Filled with bits of history, tasting notes, and lists of local tap houses Craft Beer Revolution is all you truly need to be able to map out your own ale trail this summer. No matter if you are looking for hoppy, sour, or a dark as midnight stout, Joe Wiebe has it covered.

June 28, 2018
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