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Shelf Talkers

By kileyturner
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Every month Canada's indie booksellers tell Rob Wiersema about the books they're hand-selling to customers, and the result is a series we call Shelf Talkers. This list represents April, May, June, July, and August 2014 Shelf Talkers; we'll add to it every month. Please make sure to click on Why It's On the List for booksellers' reviews. NB: We can only pull the books in our database, so a couple may be missing from the original posts. Search our blog using "Shelf Talkers" for full posts.
Swim the Fly

"Movies don’t count," Cooper says. "The Internet -doesn’t count. Magazines don’t count. A real, live naked girl. That’s the deal. That’s our goal for this summer."
"Been there, done that," Sean says.
"Taking baths with your sister -doesn’t count, either, Sean." Cooper snorts.
"Screw you, meat stain. I haven’t done that since I was, like, two, okay. And that’s not what I was talking about," Sean says.
We’re walking up to the pool. Cooper, Sean, and me. Bare feet tucked into untied sneakers, ragged towels draped around our necks. It’s our first day of swim practice, which means that summer’s really started. We’ve been friends since kindergarten. We’ve been on swim team since third grade. The Rockville Swimming Association. Six years as Lower Rockville Razorbacks.
"He’s talking about Tina Everstone’s left boob," I say as we turn onto Maple Drive and walk along the curb.
"Oh, please. Not that again." Cooper rolls his eyes.
"It’s true. I saw the whole thing when she was taking off her sweatshirt during gym. Her T-shirt came up just enough"
"And she wasn’t wearing a bra and her left one popped out and you saw the entire thing, nipple and all, and even if I didn’t think you were lying to us, it still wouldn’t count," Cooper says. "I’m talking totally naked. Not a quick flash, okay?"
"Whatever." Sean shrugs and looks off at the rundown ranch houses like he doesn’t care what we think.
"How are we supposed to see a live naked girl?" I say. "Maybe we better set a more realistic goal for the summer. Like finding Atlantis."
"Matt, Matt, Matt." Cooper puts his arm around me like he’s my wise uncle. "That kind of attitude will get you nowhere in life. Don’t you get it? You have to follow the natural way of things. It’s like that picture in our bio textbook. First there’s the monkey. Then there’s the caveman. Then there’s the human. It’s the same with sex. First there’s Internet porn, then there’s seeing your first real naked girl, and finally it’s the dirty deed. You do want to have sex someday, don’t you, Matt?"
Every summer there is a goal. It’s tradition. I don’t remember when it started or why. But as long as I can remember, we’ve always come up with something we had to accomplish before the start of the new school year. When we were ten, it was riding our bikes fifteen miles away to Perry Lake and skinny-dipping. When we were twelve, it was going to the Fern Creek Golf Course every day until we collected a thousand golf balls. Over the past few years, the goals have become more centered around girls and sex. Two years ago, each of us had to get our hands on a Playboy and show it to the others. Last year the ante was upped to finding an illegal password for a porn site. And now, Cooper’s challenge for this summer. Which I can’t see ever happening.
Maybe if we were even a little bit cool, or had any chance of getting girlfriends. But that’s just not the case. By the time you’re fifteen, you’ve either had a girlfriend — maybe even had sex — or, like Coop, Sean, and me, you haven’t even mustered the courage to ask a girl out. There’s also a third group, I guess. Guys who say they’ve had girlfriends but who nobody really believes. Which just means they’re liars who fit into the second category.
We make it to Rockville Avenue Pool just in time to hear Ms. Luntz, our swim coach, calling the team over for a meeting. Ms. Luntz is a gourd-shaped woman who wears her blue-and-white Speedo stretched to capacity underneath denim short-pants overalls. Her legs are thick and pockmarked, and purple worm veins bubble up beneath the see-through skin on her thighs. She doesn’t make things much better for herself with her Campbell’s Soup Kid haircut and gigantic pink-tinted glasses. You could almost feel sorry for her, if she wasn’t so nasty to everyone.
"Hurry up, people," Ms. Luntz squawks. "Let’s go, let’s go. Before winter comes. We’ve got important business to discuss."
Cooper, Sean, and me make our way around "the toilet" — a shallow, oval kiddie pool that’s always suspiciously body-temperature warm. My mom says it’s warm because there’s less water in there and the sun can heat it up faster, but nobody’s buying that. Last year, Cooper bet Sean ten bucks he wouldn’t bob for a Life Saver over the painted picture of Elmo, which is where most of the little kids hang out, and Sean did it without blinking an eye. It was pretty sick. Sean kept saying how they put chemicals in the pool for a reason, but there’s no way I could have done that. I feel my stomach lurch now just thinking about it.
We walk along the edge of the adult pool toward the deep end where the diving boards are. I breathe in the sharp chlorine smell and watch the swimmers stringing the swim lane dividers, and it’s like "Yeah, I know this" mixed with "Oh, God, not this again."
We hang back at the edge of the crowd that forms around Ms. Luntz. It’s all the same people from last year. A sea of blue and white Lycra. Guys and girls from seven to seventeen. All of them serious about swim team.
It’s different for Coop, Sean, and me. We do swim team because we’ve always done swim team. Between the three of us, I bet that we have the largest collection of green fifth-place ribbons in the entire league. It’s not like we try to lose. It’s just that we happen to be the three least athletic kids on the team. Maybe even in all of Rockville.
"Okay, so, welcome back and all that crap," Ms. Luntz says, tapping her pen on her clipboard. "It’s another summer, which means another chance to make a run for gold. Our first meet is in three weeks. I want us to set the bar high right away. I want us to take first in this year’s relay challenge."
Coop leans over to me and whispers, "Yeah, and I want to take a whipped-cream bath with...

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Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Kim Ferguson from Kaleidescope Kids’ Books, Ottawa, Ontario.

"Sometimes it’s difficult to keep enough copies of Don Calame’s Swim the Fly in stock here at Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books. When we start describing it to a customer and say how everyone we know laughs out loud while reading this book (adults and teens), other customers overhear us and come over to get a copy too. If anyone you know aged 13+ needs a good laugh (and who doesn’t?) then this is the book for you. Matt and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, share a very interesting summer while on their quest to see a real live naked girl."
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Local Customs
Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Lee Trentadue from Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, BC.

"Local Customs, by Audrey Thomas, is a terrific read. Audrey is a fantastic historical fiction writer and this one kept me up well past finishing the book. Who was this woman, 'Letty,' and what really happened to her? The novel is set on the Gold Coast, just after the end of the slave trade (1838). I love how Audrey sets the stage and fills in the details of this mysterious story."
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The Camel in the Sun
Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Heather Kuipers from Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, Toronto, Ontario.

"The Camel in the Sun is a traditional Muslim tale of transformation. A camel driver, thoughtlessly cruel to his helpless beast of burden, does not realize that it too suffers from heat and thirst while traversing the desert. The long-suffering camel is visited one night by The Prophet, who is able to communicate the camel’s sorrow and suffering to the camel driver in a dream. This saddens the camel driver but awakens his empathy toward his camel.

Though heartbreaking, this tale is sensitively told. Adult readers will be reluctant to judge the camel driver harshly, realizing how often we ourselves are blind to the suffering of those around us, human and animal. Younger listeners and readers will appreciate a chance to discuss this rich story with a trusted adult. Young children and adults alike will be drawn easily into this tale illustrated beautifully to evoke heat, sand, and a moonlit night."
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Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Samantha Fraenkel from Book Warehouse on Broadway, Vancouver, BC.

"Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the best books I've ever read. If a customer comes in looking for a great epic fantasy novel I eagerly thrust Tigana into their hands and tell them their search is over. Everything Kay writes is brilliant but Tigana is special."
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Coping with Emotions and Otters

Coping with Emotions and Otters

tagged : canadian
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Lindsay Williams from Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, BC.

"Like a conversation with your best friend, Del Bucchia's poetry offers laughter, comfort, and some perfectly strange advice. No topic is off limits, and her exploration of feelings across the spectrum from joy to despair is 'otter'-ly enlightening."
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Kicking the Sky

Kicking the Sky

also available: Hardcover
tagged : literary
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Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Shelley Macbeth, Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge, ON.

"Giller nominee Anthony De Sa has written a beautiful, complex coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the 1977 murder of Yonge Street shoeshine boy, Emanuel Jaques. It was the 'end of innocence' for Toronto the Good. Wonderfully evocative if you grew up knowing this story (as I did), but completely absorbing and unforgettable regardless."
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Three Souls
Why it's on the list ...
Picked by Mary-Ann Yazedjian, Black Bond Books, Lynn Valley, BC.

"This is Janie Chang's first novel and it is a beautifully written story of a young woman's life in 1930s' China. Leiyin has just died, and is watching her own funeral with her three souls as company. As she waits to move into the afterlife, she and her souls review her life, her struggles, the difficult decisions she had to make, and the betrayals she experienced. Perfect for fans of Vincent Lam's The Headmaster's Wager and Daniel Kalla's The Far Side of the Sky."
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I Was There The Night He Died
Why it's on the list ...
Picked by David Worsley, Words Worth Books, Waterloo, ON.

"I Was There The Night He Died doesn't read like a lot of Canadian fiction. It's urban, it has a lot of alt country and obscure rock and roll in it, and it's not trying to turn anyone into a better human being. It's just a great story populated by some very real, very flawed characters. Granted, no one who works for the Chatham Chamber of Commerce will be too thrilled, but I think many of the rest of us will remember fondly a life not too far removed from our own, and have a laugh on the way."
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