The summer's flying by, and so the stakes are high—you want to make your summer reading count. And so, to that end, we're pleased to boost your summer reading list with eight more amazing recommendations and (even better!) three copies of each book up for giveaway.
Night in the World, by Sharon English
A tender ensemble novel about coming home to oneself and one's family through the beauty and soulfulness of Earth, even in an age of unravelling.
Brothers Justin and Oliver have never been close. Justin owns an iconic Toronto restaurant and lives with his wife and daughter in Baby Point. Oliver, a former environmental reporter, does admin for a local gym and rents an attic apartment. Yet both men know their worlds stand on the brink. With their mother's abrupt death, each sets out to set things right: Oliver to reclaim a beloved home, Justin to save one that's falling apart.
Intersecting Justin's and Oliver's journeys is Gabe: a budding biologist enchanted by the underappreciated beauty of moths, and conflicted by the demands of scientific scrutiny. As the brothers' pursuits take them from Toronto Island to the Humber River, from drugs and transgressive art to meetings with imperiled activists, Gabe stakes everything on a glimpse of a new possibility.
Sharon English has penned a tender and powerful novel about the claims places make on our hearts, and how journeys into darkness are sometimes necessary to see through catastrophe. Night in the World explores the need to end our separations from each other and from nature -- coming home, at last, to a beleaguered yet still beautiful world.
Good Girl, by Anna Fitzpatrick
Secretary meets Fleabag in Anna Fitzpatrick's hot and hilarious comic-erotic debut.
Lucy tries so hard to be good. She was always a good student, tries to be a good friend, a good citizen, a good feminist, and now she wants a lover who will give her a good beating, preferably after tying her up.
Dating swings from the sublime to the humiliating, but then Lucy hooks up with someone who challenges her to pursue the writing career she has been letting idle. When she discovers a teen magazine from the 1970s, it sparks her imagination and her life finally seems to come into focus; but as she learns more about how women were treated behind the scenes, she has to decide what to do. How to be true to herself, as chaotic as she believes herself to be; how to be good to those around her; how to survive as a young woman in the still messy media culture of 2015.
Surprising, sexy, and hilarious, Good Girl is a thoughtful and endearing portrait of a young woman unsure of what she’s supposed to want from a world where the rules keep changing.
Some Maintenance Required, by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson
Bestselling author of Autopsy of a Boring Wife Marie-Renée Lavoie is a master of making us fall in love with her characters. She does it again with the tender coming-of-age story Some Maintenance Required.
It is 1993, the last year of school and Laurie’s final spring before adulthood. She works part time at a restaurant and looks after Cindy, her neglected, potty-mouthed little neighbour. Like her mother, Laurie devours books and dreams big. Her father works at a garage, where Laurie constantly struggles to keep her car running. It is here that a budding romance intensifies Laurie’s understanding of class differences, and opens her eyes to a more complicated world. With her big heart, she takes Cindy globe-trotting without even leaving town, and learns how to come to terms with circumstances beyond her control. Life teaches Laurie that everyone requires some maintenance sometimes. A story of taking responsibility and coming into adulthood, Some Maintenance Required is as funny and as impressive as its main character.
Francie's Got a Gun, by Carrie Snyder
A suspenseful and poignant tale from an award-winning writer about a girl navigating chaotic family life in a close-knit small town.
On a June afternoon in a small city, a wild-eyed girl named Francie dashes down a neighbourhood street, clutching a gun. She doesn’t know exactly what she’s running from, and she doesn’t know what she’s heading towards. All she understands is the need to survive. To save herself, she has no choice but to run—and to save those she loves, she must hold tight to that gun.
Swirling around Francie is a chorus of friends, family, and neighbours, each person with a different view of her. As we hear from these voices—Francie’s steadfast best friend, Alice; Alice’s comically unaware mother, Sally, and struggling mathematician father, David; Francie’s distressed and distracted mother, Marietta, and troubled, unwell father, Luce—a fractured portrait emerges of the girl and the village surrounding her. And at last we arrive at a still point in the chaos: a tall tree where Francie takes shelter, and where the meaning of her flight—for herself, and for the people around her—becomes clear.
In Francie’s Got a Gun, award-winning writer Carrie Snyder assembles a chorus of unforgettable characters who are both well-intentioned and flawed. At their centre is Francie, a vulnerable, imaginative girl with surprising attachments to each of them. Here is a propulsive, polyphonic, heart-expanding novel—equal parts sorrow and humour, fear and love, anger and kindness—about social breakdown and the quest for connection in a close-knit community.
Utopia, by Heidi Sopinka
Out of the explosive 1970s L.A. art scene comes a riveting novel about creativity, death, and reinvention that follows two artists—one dies mysteriously, and the other takes her place
Paz, an ambitious young artist, is drawn to Romy, one of the only women to break into the male-dominated art scene of 1970s California. She is also drawn to Romy’s husband, Billy, an enigmatic art star. When Romy dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Billy is left unmoored, caring for their newborn.
Leaving New York and grad school behind, Paz takes on the mantle of Romy’s life and steps into a ghostly love triangle. When Paz attempts to claim her creative life, strange things start to happen—photographs move, an unexplained postcard arrives, and an unsettling journal entry begins to blur the line between art and life.
As Paz becomes increasingly obsessed with the woman she has replaced and the absent man she has married, a disturbing picture begins to emerge, driving her deep into the desert to uncover the truth.
Astonishing and profound, Utopia affirms Heidi Sopinka as one of the most exhilarating voices in Canadian literature. A propulsive mix of desire, friendship, and betrayal, Utopia illuminates a crucible moment for art and feminism, which still reverberates today. This is both a visionary love story and a feminist manifesto that will leave you altered.
Her First Palestinian, by Saeed Teebi
Elegant, surprising stories about Palestinian immigrants in Canada navigating their identities in circumstances that push them to the emotional brink.
Saeed Teebi’s intense, engrossing stories plunge into the lives of characters grappling with their experiences as Palestinian immigrants to Canada. A doctor teaches his girlfriend about his country, only for her to fall into a consuming obsession with the Middle East conflict. A math professor risks his family’s destruction by slandering the king of a despotic, oil-rich country. A university student invents an imaginary girlfriend to fit in with his callous, womanizing roommates. A lawyer takes on the impossible mission of becoming a body smuggler. A lonely widower travels to Russia in search of a movie starlet he met in his youth in historical Jaffa. A refugee who escaped violent circumstances rebels against the kindness of his sponsor. These taut and compelling stories engage the immigrant experience and reflect the Palestinian diaspora with grace and insight.
The Elephant on Karluv Bridge, by Thomas Trofimuk
Set in Prague and narrated by the 600-year-old Charles Bridge, this novel begins with an lephant named Sál escaping the Prague Zoo. As the elephant moves through the beautiful Czech city, the lives of the men and women she meets are altered by the encounter. Each character is at a crossroads, and desperately seeking the wisdom they need to wrestle with profound questions—how to live, how to love, who to love, how to heal. And the elephant herself is haunted, as memories of her long-ago capture in Africa resurface.
Sál carries the narrative from one point of view to another: Vasha, a writer and night watchman at the zoo, and his wife Marta, a psychotherapist, confront the question of whether to have a child; Šárka, Marta’s patient and a dancer at the end of her career, is visited by a charming and often abrasive manifestation of the long-dead ballerina Anna Pavlova; Joseph, a clown and bouffon, performs on the Karlův Bridge itself, and he is about to be struck down (literally and figuratively) by a new love… Through it all, Sál steals the show, wandering the streets in search of water and food, bearing her own share of sadness and painful memories as she struggles to find her way out of her bewildering predicament. Though she, like the humans she encounters, is free now to make her own choices, she is also displaced and lost. Thomas Trofimuk’s novel masterfully convinces us to accept all the wonders contained in it: that a bridge can tell a story, that art is integral to our survival, that an elephant can scatter sudden flashes of insight in her wake, that there is no separation between the grief of elephants and the grief of humans.
We Have Never Lived On Earth: Stories, by Kasia Van Schaik
Kasia Van Schaik’s debut story collection follows the journey of Charlotte Ferrier, a child of divorce raised by a single mother in a small town in British Columbia after moving from South Africa. Mother and daughter wait out the end of a bad year in a Mexican hotel; a friendship is tested as forest fires demolish Charlotte’s town; a childhood friend disappears while travelling through Europe; and a girl on the beach examines the memories of dying jellyfish. The stories traverse the most intimate and transforming moments of female experience in a world threatened by ecological crisis.
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