Recommended Reading List
Books Everyone Should Read Wish List
Download list
Please login or register to use this feature.

Books Everyone Should Read Wish List

By Antheras
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
My favourite Canadian reads, a motley collection of fiction, non-fiction, humour, kid lit and anything else I can think of.
The Unwritten Girl

The Unwritten Girl

The Unwritten Books
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
I love the premise and as a tween/teen often wanted to escape into a book.

From my review: Despite its fantasy/fairy tale setting, The Unwritten Girl addresses some fairly serious issues; mental illness, being an outsider, the death of parents and bullying. In many ways, this is a fairly dark book and Bow deftly handles these significant topics without resorting to clichés or becoming preachy.
close this panel
Waiting for Gertrude

Waiting for Gertrude

A Graveyard Gothic
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : gothic

In Paris's Pere-Lachaise cemetery lie the bones of many renowned departed. It is also home to a large number of stray cats. Now, what if by some strange twist of fate, the souls of the famous were reborn in the cats with their personalities intact? There's Maria Callas, a willful and imperious diva, wailing late into the night. Earthy, bawdy chanteuse Edith Piaf is a foul-mouthed washerwoman. Oscar Wilde is hopelessly in love with Jim Morrison who sadly does not return his affections. Frederic C …

More Info
The Girls
Excerpt

ruby & me

~

I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I’ve never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so ­exponentially.

My sister, Ruby, and I, by mishap or miracle, having intended to divide from a single fertilized egg, remained joined instead, by a spot the size of a bread plate on the sides of our twin heads. We’re known to the world medical community as the oldest surviving craniopagus twins (we are twenty-­nine years old) and to millions around the globe, those whose interest in people like us is more than just passing, as conjoined craniopagus twins Rose and Ruby Darlen of Baldoon County. We’ve been called many things: freaks, horrors, monsters, devils, witches, retards, wonders, marvels. To most, we’re a curiosity. In small-­town Leaford, where we live and work, we’re just “The Girls.”

Raise your right hand. Press the base of your palm to the lobe of your right ear. Cover your ear and fan out your fingers – that’s where my sister and I are affixed, our faces not quite side by side, our skulls fused together in a circular pattern running up the temple and curving around the frontal lobe. If you glance at us, you might think we’re two women embracing, leaning against the other ­tête-­à-­tête, the way sisters do.

Ruby and I are identical twins and would be identical looking, having high foreheads like our mother and wide, full mouths, except that Ruby’s face is arranged quite nicely (in fact, Ruby is very beautiful), whereas my features are misshapen and frankly grotesque. My right eye slants steeply towards the place my right ear would have been if my sister’s head had not grown there instead. My nose is longer than Ruby’s, one nostril wider than the other, pulled to the right of my brown slanted eye. My lower jaw shifts to the left, slurring my speech and giving a husky quality to my voice. Patches of eczema rouge my cheeks, while Ruby’s complexion is fair and flawless. Our scalps marry in the middle of our conjoined heads, but my frizzy hair has a glint of auburn, while my sister is a swingy brunette. Ruby has a deep cleft in her chin, which people find ­endearing.

I’m five feet five inches tall. When we were born, my limbs were symmetrical, in proportion to my body. Presently, my right leg is a full three inches shorter than my left, my spine compressed, my right hip cocked, and all because I have carried my sister like an infant, since I was a baby myself, Ruby’s tiny thighs astride my hip, my arm supporting her posterior, her arm forever around my neck. Ruby is my sister. And strangely, undeniably, my ­child.

There is some discomfort in our conjoinment. Ruby and I experience mild to severe neck, jaw, and shoulder pain, for which we take physiotherapy three times a week. The strain on my body is constant, as I bear Ruby’s weight, as I tote Ruby on my hip, as I struggle to turn Ruby over in our bed or perch on my stool beside the toilet for what seems like hours. (Ruby has a multitude of bowel and urinary tract problems.) We are challenged, certainly, and uncomfortable, sometimes, but neither Ruby nor I would describe our conjoinment as painful.

It’s difficult to explain our locomotion as conjoined twins or how it developed from birth using grunts and gestures and what I suppose must be telepathy. There are days when, like a normal person, we’re clumsy and uncoordinated. We have less natural symbiosis when one of us (usually Ruby) is sick, but mostly our dance is a smooth one. We hate doing things in unison, such as answering yes or no at the same time. We never finish each other’s sentences. We can’t shake our heads at once or nod (and wouldn’t if we could – see above). We have an unspoken, even unconscious, system of checks and balances to determine who’ll lead the way at any given moment. There is conflict. There is ­compromise.

Ruby and I share a common blood supply. My blood flows normally in the left side of my brain, but the blood in my right (the connected side) flows to my sister’s left, and vice versa for her. It’s estimated that we share a web of one hundred veins as well as our skull bones. Our cerebral tissue is fully enmeshed, our vascular systems snarled like briar bushes, but our brains themselves are separate and functioning. Our thoughts are distinctly our own. Our selves have struggled fiercely to be unique and, in fact, we’re more different than most identical twins. I like sports, but I’m also bookish, while Ruby is girlie and prefers television. When Ruby is tired, I’m hardly ever ready for bed. We’re rarely hungry together and our tastes are poles apart: I prefer spicy fare, while my sister has a disturbing fondness for ­eggs.

Ruby believes in God and ghosts and reincarnation. (Ruby won’t speculate on her next incarnation though, as if imagining something different from what she is now would betray us both.) I believe the best the dead can hope for is to be conjured from time to time, through a note of haunting music or a passage in a book.

I’ve never set eyes on my sister, except in mirror images and photographs, but I know Ruby’s gestures as my own, through the movement of her muscles and bone. I love my sister as I love myself. I hate her that way too.
This is the story of my life. I’m calling it “Autobiography of a Conjoined Twin.” But since my sister claims that it can’t technically (“technically” is Ruby’s current favourite word) be considered an autobiography and is opposed to my telling what she considers our story, I have agreed that she should write some chapters from her point of view. I will strive to tell my story honestly, allowing that my truth will be coloured a shade different from my sister’s and acknowledging that it’s sometimes necessary for the writer to connect the dots.

From the Hardcover edition.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
From my review: The voices of The Girls are unique and their viewpoints on events fascinating. The sisters can’t see each other without the aid of a mirror and so each writes their chapters in isolation, with the intention of reading the other’s work after it is finished. The most fascinating aspect of The Girls is the assumptions each makes about what the other related and how that dictates what each in turn shares with the reader. Their accounts of the same events often contradict and the reader is left to ferret out the truth.

In the end, it is the reader’s own assumptions and reflexive reaction of pity for The Girls which is destroyed. Rose and Ruby are so much more than objects of pity, but to discuss much more of this special novel would be to give away too many of its secrets - ones readers should discover for themselves.
close this panel
Friend of the Devil

Friend of the Devil

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

On a cliff edge overlooking the North Sea, a quadriplegic woman in a wheelchair stares unseeingly at the waves. She had been murdered. And, miles away, in a storeroom in the Maze, a medieval warren of yards and alleys at the heart of Eastvale, Yorkshire, a young woman lies sprawled on a heap of leather scraps. She too has been murdered. Their bodies are discovered at about the same time that DI Annie Cabbot, on secondment to the Eastern Area force, wakes with a severe hangover in the bed of a yo …

More Info
Excerpt

Sunday mornings were hardly sacrosanct to Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. After all, he ­didn’t go to church, and he rarely awoke with such a bad hangover that it was painful to move or speak. In fact, the previous evening he had watched The Black Dahlia on DVD and had drunk two glasses of Tesco’s finest Chilean Cabernet with his reheated pizza funghi. But he did appreciate a lie-­in and an hour or two’s peace with the newspapers as much as the next man. For the afternoon, he planned to phone his mother and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, then listen to some of the Shostakovich string quartets he had recently purchased from iTunes and carry on reading Tony Judt’s Postwar. He found that he read far less fiction these days; he felt a new hunger to understand, from a different perspective, the world in which he had grown up. Novels were all well and good for giving you a flavour of the times, but he needed facts and interpretations, the big picture.

That Sunday, the third in March, such luxury was not to be. It started innocently enough, as such momentous sequences of events often do, at about half past eight, with a phone call from Detective Sergeant Kevin Templeton, who was on duty in the Western Area Major Crimes squad room that weekend.

“Guv, it’s me. DS Templeton.”

Banks felt a twinge of distaste. He ­didn’t like Templeton, would be happy when his transfer finally came through. There were times when he tried to tell himself it was because Templeton was too much like him, but that ­wasn’t the case. Templeton ­didn’t only cut corners, he trampled on far too many people’s feelings and, worse, he seemed to enjoy it. “What is it?” Banks grunted. “It had better be good.”

“It’s good, sir. You’ll like it.”

Banks could hear traces of obsequious excitement in Templeton’s voice. Since their last run-­in, the young DS had tried to ingratiate himself in various ways, but this kind of phony breathless deference was too Uriah Heep for Banks’s liking.

“Why ­don’t you just tell me?” said Banks. “Do I need to get dressed?” He held the phone away from his ear as Templeton laughed.

“I think you should get dressed, sir, and make your way down to Taylor’s Yard as soon as you can.”

Taylor’s Yard, Banks knew, was one of the narrow passages that led into the Maze, which riddled the south side of the town centre behind Eastvale’s market square. It was called a yard not because it resembled a square or a garden in any way, but because some bright spark had once remarked that it ­wasn’t much more than a yard wide. “And what will I find there?” he asked.

“Body of a young woman,” said Templeton. “I’ve checked it out myself. In fact, I’m there now.”

“You ­didn’t —”

“I ­didn’t touch anything, sir. And between us, Police Constable Forsythe and me have got the area taped off and sent for the doctor.”

“Good,” said Banks, pushing aside the Sunday Times crossword he had hardly started and looking longingly at his still-­steaming cup of black coffee. “Have you called the super?”

“Not yet, sir. I thought I’d wait till you’d had a butcher’s. No sense in jumping the gun.”

“All right,” said Banks. Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise was probably enjoying a lie-­in after a late night out to see Orfeo at Opera North in Leeds. Banks had seen it on Thursday with his daughter, Tracy, and enjoyed it very much. He ­wasn’t sure whether Tracy had. She seemed to have turned in on herself these days. “I’ll be there in half an hour,” he said. “Three-­quarters at the most. Ring DI Cabbot and DS Hatchley. And get DC Jackman there, too.”

“DI Cabbot’s still on loan to Eastern, sir.”

“Of course. Damn.” If this was a murder, Banks would have liked Annie’s help. They might have problems on a personal level, but they still worked well as a team.

Banks went upstairs and showered and dressed quickly, then back in the kitchen he filled his travel mug with coffee to drink on the way, making sure the top was pressed down tight. More than once he’d had a nasty accident with a coffee mug. He turned everything off, locked up and headed for the car.

He was driving his brother’s Porsche. Though he still ­didn’t feel especially comfortable in such a luxury vehicle, he was finding that he liked it better each day. Not so long ago, he had thought of giving it to his son, Brian, or to Tracy, and that idea still held some appeal. The problem was that he ­didn’t want to make one of them feel left out, or less loved, so the choice was proving to be a dilemma. Brian’s band had gone through a slight change of personnel recently, and he was rehearsing with some new musicians. Tracy’s exam results had been a dis­appointment to her, though not to Banks, and she was passing her time rather miserably working in a bookshop in Leeds and sharing a house in Headingley with some old student friends. So who deserved a Porsche? He could hardly cut it in half.

It had turned windy and cool, so Banks went back to switch his sports jacket for his zip-­up leather jacket. If he was going to be standing around in the back alleys of Eastvale while the SOCOs, the photographer and the police surgeon did their stuff, he might as well stay as warm as possible. Once snug in the car, he started the engine and set off through Gratly, down the hill to Helmthorpe and on to the Eastvale Road. He plugged his iPod into the adapter, on shuffle, and Ray Davies’s “All She Wrote” came on, a song he particularly liked, especially the line about the big Australian barmaid. That would do for a Sunday-­morning drive to a crime scene, he thought; it would do just fine.

From the Hardcover edition.

close this panel
Ticknor
Why it's on the list ...
Several critics have called Ticknor “Prufrockian” and the comparison makes sense. From my review: Like T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” it is difficult to determine exactly what is occurring in Ticknor. Readers are exposed to the seething mass of thoughts, images, emotions and memories running through Ticknor’s head as he makes his way to Prescott’s dinner party. It is unclear if Ticknor is speaking directly to the reader or if he is carrying on an internal dialogue designed to rewrite his own history.

Readers are quickly pulled into the mire that is Ticknor’s mind, leaving the reader in a state of heightened anxiety similar to the one experienced by Ticknor as he steps out his door.
close this panel
The Restoration of Emily
Why it's on the list ...
From my review: Moritsugu has created a very strong voice for Emily, whose cutting view of the world ably flows out of Moritsugu’s pen: “This is one of the many things I value Sylvia for: her ability to provide me with timely reminders about how pointless couplehood can be.” Now facing this new phase of life, one as a mother of an almost grown-up son, Emily must follow her own star and determine what is truly important to her. Emily’s restoration, in the autumn of her life, is an enjoyable one when handled with Mortisugu’s consummate skill.
close this panel
Before I Wake
Excerpt

I only looked away for a ­moment.

That one phrase haunts a parent when something tragic happens to their child. It echoes in the mind like an accusation. Or a ­curse.

“I only turned my back for a second, but somehow he managed to reach the handle of the frying pan . . .”

“I just went inside to answer the phone. I thought the gate to the pool was locked . . .”

It’s a cry for understanding, a challenge to the universe. I hear the guilt, the recrimination, and I understand: If only I had been paying ­attention . . .
He wouldn’t be ­burned.
She wouldn’t have ­drowned.

I didn’t look ­away.

We believe that vigilance can prevent tragedy, that if we pay attention, we will be strong enough, wise enough, fortunate enough to counter ­fate.

“If I had been watching . . .”

It’s a ­lie.

It’s a trick that the universe plays, a way of increasing the guilt and despair while seeming to explain it ­away.

I didn’t look away. I wish I ­had.

Sometimes we can only watch, mute witnesses as our lives change in a moment, in a heartbeat, in the time it takes a ­three-­year-­old girl to take a single step from our ­side.

I let go of her ­hand.

I didn’t look ­away.

And my baby is ­gone.

April 1996

“Jubilee, this is A32. We have two, repeat two, en route. Hit and run. ETA four minutes. Clear.”

“Copy, A32. Please advise condition. Clear.”

“Copy, Jubilee. Advise one adult female. Some bleeding. Shock. Holding stable. Clear.”

“Copy, A32. Advise.”

“Copy, Jubilee. Advise one female child, three years. Severe head trauma with decreased level of consciousness and spontaneous respirations. Severe bleeding from cranium. Clear.”

“Copy, A32. Trauma One will meet you at the gate. Clear.”

KAREN BARRETT

Sherry and I were walking to the mall, holding ­hands.

Hillside Shopping Centre is only a few blocks from the house, and every Wednesday morning in the food court clowns and jugglers and musicians perform for the kids. I had dressed Sherry in her little blue dress, the one with Winnie the Pooh on the front. She had chosen it herself: “my ­sky-­blue dress, because it matches the sky.” I zipped up the back carefully, so as not to catch any of her wispy hair between the metal teeth. I tickled her gently under the arms as I ­finished.

Was that the last time I heard her ­laugh?

Sherry loved the clowns, and the noise of all the other children packed into the food court was like a wall of pure joy. We usually had a snack, a muffin or some french fries, before we walked home, and by the time we got back it would be nap time for both of ­us.

It was a beautiful spring day. The sky was a clear, cold blue, but there was no chill to the air. In fact, the air was heavy with warmth and growth and green and flowers as we walked through our neighborhood. We stopped to pet familiar cats, to smell the lilacs just in flower, to pick up stones that weighed down my ­pockets.

I checked both ways before we stepped into the crosswalk on Hillside. I always do. The street is too wide to take any risks: three lanes in each direction with a concrete median, and the cars and buses just roar through. There’s no light at the crosswalk, so I’m always careful to check. Better that we wait a few seconds than take any ­chances.

We waited for a station wagon to pass from the left and I saw a truck a good distance away on the right, but it was perfectly safe. I took her small hand in mine.

Perfectly safe.

We walked quickly. Six lanes is pretty far for a ­three-year-­old, but we’d done it plenty of ­times.

We should have waited at the ­median.

The next time I looked up, the truck was right there, maybe 100 yards away. It was old and beat up, red with white fenders. And it was roaring toward ­us.

I felt her fingers slip from mine. Felt her moving.

“Sherry,” I called as she skipped away. We were in the same lane as the truck, so all we had to do was get to the next lane. It wasn’t far. No more than a couple of ­feet.

I should have picked her up. I don’t know why I didn’t pick her up.

She turned to look at me.

“Sherry!”

I watched her pudgy white legs scamper across the pavement, her little white shoes, her little blue dress.

Her sky-blue dress.

When I turned to check, I could almost see the face of the driver in the truck. He had shifted lanes to go wide around us, weaving into the next lane, the lane in front of us, the lane that Sherry had just quickstepped into. The roar of his engine blocked out all other ­noise.

I reached for her, my fingers just brushing her blond hair before the truck pulled her away from ­me.
I could hear, over the roar of the engine, the sound of her body hitting the bumper as the truck took her beyond my ­reach.

I could feel the wake of the truck as it sped past me, as I threw myself toward her. Tried to reach ­her.

There was a squealing of tires. A ­scream.

And the next thing I saw was the ceiling of a hospital emergency ­room.

“9—1-1 Operator. How should I direct your call?”

“I just killed a little girl . . .”

“Sir–”

“I swerved . . . I swerved around her . . .”

“Sir, where are you?”

“I’m at the Hillside Mall . . .”

“Where are you at Hillside Mall, sir?”

“I only looked away for a minute. I checked my mirror. I changed lanes. I swerved, but she . . .”

“Sir, where are you calling from?”

“I just killed a little girl . . .”

“­Sir . . . Sir? Sir?”

From the Hardcover edition.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
From my review: Before I Wake by Robert J. Wiersema is an incrediblely moving book. I don't know how to write most of my reaction without giving away a lot of the plot so all I am going to say is this - do yourself a favour and get a copy of this book. Anyone who was moved by The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold or The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue should definitely read Wiersema's debut novel.
close this panel
Abode of Love

Abode of Love

Growing Up in a Messianic Cult
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
From my review: Abode of Love: Growing Up in a Messianic Cult is the first book about Agapemone written by an insider. Barlow’s extensive research is evident in the details included about the cult’s history, as well as reminiscences of former members, culled from newspapers articles of the day and interviews conducted by Barlow and her sisters. Abode of Love reads like a work of fiction and, the blending of the cult’s history with personal memories, creates a work which is difficult to put down. Abode of Love is Barlow’s struggle to come to terms with her family’s skeletons, dispel some of the mystery surrounding her grandparents, and close the door on a childhood unlike any other.
close this panel
comments powered by Disqus

There are two ways to make a reading list

This way:

  1. Click the "Create a New List" button just above this panel.
  2. Add as many books as you wish using the built-in search on the list edit page.

Or that way:

  1. Go to any book page.
  2. In the right-hand column, click on "Add to List." A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. From the drop-down menu, either add your book to a list you have already created or create a new list.
  4. View and edit your lists anytime on your profile page.
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...