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Rebuilding a Book Collection

A recommended reading list by the author of Blue Runaways.

Book Cover Blue Runaways

Jann Everard's Blue Runaways is up for giveaway until the end of the month!

Head to our giveaways page for your chance to enter to check out everything else we have on offer. 


In June 2022, I moved from Toronto to Vancouver Island. In the process, I let go of over 2000 beloved books and hundreds of back issues of Canadian literary journals accumulated over 40 years. What remained fit in a few Banker’s Boxes and included treasured signed copies of books authored by friends, books I re-read regularly (e.g., Meditations, Marcus Aurelius), books on subjects I’m researching for my WIP, and books I couldn’t part with for reasons that weren’t always clear to me (e.g., Snowflakes in Photographs, W.A. Bentley. Did I think I would never see snow again?).

Decimating my bookshelves was a heart-wrenching experience. Now that I’m settled on the West Coast, I’m building a new collection of books by attending local reading series and literary festivals. This list contains three books I brought with me from Toronto (starred) and seven that have found homes on my shelves in the past two years (in no particular order).


Book Cover The Morning Bell Brings the Brokenhearted

The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted, by Jennifer Manuel

It’s impossible not to be affected by Manuel’s novel about how the education system fails Indigenous children and communities. Manuel writes (and speaks) from a place of deep and authentic caring. Characters and place are rendered beautifully and with nuance.


Book Cover 21 Things You Might Not Know About the Indian Act

21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act, by Bob Joseph*

I suggest this book whenever I’m asked to make a recommendation. At 105 pages before appendices, it can be read in just a few sittings, although the messages deserve thought long after. I consider this book essential reading. As a Canadian (albeit educated at an American school), I was appalled at how little I knew about the Act.


Book Cover A Season in Chezgh-un

A Season in Chezgh’un, by Darrel J. McLeod

Listening to Darrel McLeod on stage for five minutes was enough to convince me to read this book. He exudes warmth and a desire to connect with his readers—indeed with all people. One senses that in the search for a way to address conflict and harm, personal connection is McLeod’s answer.


Book Cover Far Cry

Far Cry, by Alissa York

People who have never lived by coastal waters are unlikely to think long and hard about fish canneries, and I hadn’t either until I read Far Cry. Impeccably researched, this is my favourite of York’s works to date.


Book Cover Midway

Midway, by Kayla Czaga

Unknown to me until I heard her read locally, poet Kayla Czaga caught my attention from the very first poem in this collection—a poem about her dead father’s hairbrush. The poem shattered me, perhaps because my own dad had died recently, perhaps because I also write about the loss of people I care about, perhaps because I wish I’d written the line “Morning moves like marmalade” (Anyone’s Mother, p. 29).


Book Cover A Complex Coast

A Complex Coast, by David Norwell

Gifted to me by a fellow kayaker, this gorgeous book chronicles a kayak journey from Vancouver Island to Alaska and is peppered with the author’s own watercolours. From the dedication to fourteen cats and dogs at the front of the book to the “Davidism Dictionary” at the back, this colourful volume is pure pleasure and meant (as the author suggests) to be read outdoors, preferably near water.


Book Cover Exit Strategies

Exit Strategies, by Meg Todd

Todd’s debut collection of short stories was published during the pandemic when many books didn’t attract the attention they deserved. “My friend June Snow talked about butchering the way other girls talked about cleaning their rooms or baking cookies.” With openings like this, Todd’s short stories hook and hold.


Book Cover Inivisble Ink

Invisible Ink, by Terry Griggs*

Sometimes an older book needs to be resurrected. This book was first published in 2006 and was a favourite of my (then young) son who loved any story with a bit of humour. Reading books intended for younger audiences as an adult can be both relaxing and a reminder of what makes good storytelling. Choosing to read a book published more than a few years ago might also involve a trip to the library—always a good thing! (Ages 9-12)


Book Cover Granta 141

Granta 141, the “Canada” issue, Catherine Leroux, Madeleine Thien (eds).*

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s “How to Pronounce Knife” was published in this issue along with pieces by Johanna Skibsrud, Rawi Hage, Lisa Moore, and Falen Johnson. It’s like a box of rich chocolates in book form. Keep it in mind when prowling the shelves of a used book store or buy it new from Granta’s web store.


Book Cover We the Sea Turtles

We the Sea Turtles, by Michelle Kadarusman

Who says younger readers won’t or don’t read short stories? How do we build the next generation of short fiction readers if we don’t expose young readers to the genre? With a lush cover and stories ranging worldwide, this collection is a good place to start. (Ages 8-10)


Book Cover Blue Runaways

Learn more about Blue Runaways:

From award-winning writer Jann Everard, a debut short story collection about love and loss.

Some of the women in Blue Runaways are grieving. Some are looking for a second chance. All are at a turning point. From Iceland to Bali, from the comfortable houses of Canada’s cities to its wild and expansive backcountry, the characters in this collection face the most human of fears: that dear ones die, love is a risk, and no promise is certain.

As diverse in situation as it is controlled in theme, this collection serves as a multifaceted exploration of loss, love, and what it takes to move on. With a keen eye for landscape and an uncanny knack for inhabiting hearts and minds, Everard ventures into her character’s darkest days. By confronting the sorrow of being alive, Blue Runaways reveals the joy of knowing we are not alone.


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