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Summer Books for 2017

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Books for the beach, about the beach, reminiscent of beaches and sun. Etc.
The Summer Book

The Summer Book

A bright collection of creative non-fiction
edited by Mona Fertig
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian, essays

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.” –Toni Morrison

 

“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.” –Wallace Stevens

 

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”–L.M. Montgomery

 

Focusing on the joys of summer, The Summer Book features new creative non-fiction by twenty-four exceptional and award-winning British Columbian writers: warm and wonderful tales, meditations on …

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Turning

Turning

A Year in the Water
edition:Paperback

Through the heat of summer to the frozen depths of winter, Lee traces her journey swimming through 52 lakes in a single year, swimming through fear and heartbreak to find her place in the world
Jessica J. Lee swims through all four seasons and especially loves the winter. "I long for the ice. The sharp cut of freezing water on my feet. The immeasurable black of the lake at its coldest. Swimming then means cold, and pain, and elation."
     At the age of twenty-eight, Jessica, who grew up in Can …

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Excerpt

A swimmer can sense the turning of the lake. There’s a moment in the season when the water changes. It isn’t something you can see, it’s something you can feel. In spring, the winter ice melts, and the warm and cold of the lake intermingle, flowing together. In summer, as the lake grows warm, a green froth of algae caps the surface of the water, and when it cools again in autumn, the green disappears. The air thins. The leaves flash red and gold. And the water ‘turns’.
     You come to know the  consistent  cool  of  spring  and the stagnant warmth at the top of a summer lake. When the water clears in the autumn, you can feel it: the lake feels cleaner on your arms, less like velvet and more like cut glass. And then winter comes, sharper than ever. Swimming year-round means greeting the lake’s changes.
     There is an English expression for the lake’s changes: the ‘breaking of the meres’. It describes the point in late summer  when  shallow  lakes  –  meres  –  turn  a  turbid blue-green, algae breaking atop the surface like yeast froths on beer. The Germans also have a word for the green of summer: umkippen. It describes the point when the water has turned to slick green, fizzling with iridescent algae.
     But the breaking of the meres and umkippen capture only that single moment of algal rupture, the death of the lake from too much algae and too little oxygen. We tend to notice the obvious thing – the emerging sheen of an algal bloom – and reduce a word’s meaning to that tiny moment, that fleck of green on the surface.
     The lake’s turning – ‘lake stratification’ and ‘overturn’ – runs deeper, taking in an entire year’s worth of changes in the water. Turning is perpetual. It points to the wider transformations in the water, as layers below billow and rearrange themselves beneath the surface. Even in winter, the lake is alive beneath the ice.
     I long for the ice. The sharp cut of freezing water on my feet. The immeasurable black of the lake at its coldest. Swimming then means cold, and pain, and elation.
 
 
When I was twenty-eight, almost as if by accident, I was sent to Berlin on a five-month research placement. I moved into a second-floor Altbau flat, one of the crumbling, enormous apartments that looks straight out of a Stasi spy drama. And from this old place with an old cellar that had once been used for escape tunnels, I set out into a world of pine and silken water, of craggy cobbles and peeling paint.
     Berlin resembled the other places I’ve called home – Canada, Britain – but only in glimpses: in the way the skeletal pines would edge the lake, in how the old stones would grow thick with moss. Pain, brightness, loss and renewal were layered in the landscape: in the lush shade of Tiergarten, which in my grandfather’s days was barren, razed and desperately carved up for allotments, and in the crooked edges of concrete that had slowly been dismantled as kids my age grew up. I was three when the Berlin Wall came down. I don’t remember it, but I came to know it in my own way.
     The footprint of the Wall was turned into a hiking trail. Pavements stopped you in your tracks, Stolpersteine, brass stumbling stones marking the lost. Roads radiated out like a dial, a stretched palm pressed on to the city. I thought the roads here had to be so wide, if only to hold the ghosts.
     Half a year later, as I was retreating from the deep end of depression, I surfaced with the bizarre notion that the solution to my problems lay in swimming. I felt furious that I had succumbed to the dark vacancy of my moods, as though it were my fault. My heart was broken. Above all, I thought that swimming might help me find some new place in the world in a year in which I’d changed address five times. A place in a city that wasn’t mine, and that held layered in its streets a century of change and grief, ghosts in the landscape. Naively, perhaps, I believed that if I could find that place in the middle of the lake where every feeling slipped away, I might undo the hurt.
     I’d moved again – this time into a stark white room with ceilings thrice my height – but spent only a few moments unpacking and settling in before turning my eyes to the map. The city at its centre, cut through by a fan of broad avenues and the rivers, the sudden countryside at its edges. Hundreds of spots of blue multiplied exponentially as the city lines crept into the surrounding land. These lakes and rivers – their intricate weave of water laid on to the flat North German Plain by retreating glaciers in the last ice age – had worked a tiny hook into my heart, and I could do nothing for it but swim.
     Perhaps it was a drastic response. In depression, I had become someone I hadn’t wanted to be, emptied and hardened. I felt that I had to respond to it in kind, as if lake water might blast away my sadness and fear. So I decided to swim for a year, in the hope of finding some reserve of joy and courage in myself. It was a means of greeting the ghosts – mine and others – as they appeared around unknown corners. I knew there was no untouched landscape here: there is hurt that cannot be undone. I wanted to find a way to negotiate it, to live with it.
     Of all the lakes near to the city, I planned to swim in fifty-two, a whole year’s worth, stretching my swims out through each season. Prone to rules, I kept the parameters simple: no cars, no wetsuits. I could take friends from time to time. My daily life would continue as normal. I was in the final year of my doctorate, finalising and refining a dissertation in environmental history. I was living an ocean away from family and home. There was pressure to hold things together. Swimming would be a way of staying with my fears, a way of staying in place. Above all, I sought to find some balance in it.
     The summer in Berlin began coolly and then arrived fully formed, hot. Bright swathes of sunlight stretched over the cobbles, and the sky painted itself cornflower blue. The temperature rose and the air thickened only slightly as a hot, dry June settled on the city.
     I looked at the map, traced my fingers over the lakes I knew – Krumme Lanke, Weißer See, Liepnitzsee, Bötzsee, Mühlenbecker See – and decided, as if by habit, to start at the beginning. Krumme Lanke, my first German lake.

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How Deep is the Lake

How Deep is the Lake

A Century at Chilliwack Lake
edition:Paperback

A prudent and intentional examination of privilege and belonging in Chilliwack Lake by retired environmental lawyer and grandmother. Curious about the previous inhabitants of the lake where her family has spent the summer for over one hundred years, author Shelley O'Callaghan starts researching and writing about the area. But what begins as a personal journey of one woman's relationship to the land and her desire to uncover the history of her family's remote cabin turns into an exploration and q …

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Mermaids and Ikons

Mermaids and Ikons

A Greek Summer
edition:Paperback

The island is shy and exuberant, savage and fair, bold yet self-effacing. It is a woman in heat, a man in despair, a blonde horse at sunset, a riot of fig trees, a flaking white salt bed, an arid garden of thyme and oregano, a hundred clotheslines full of octopi hung up to dry, a warm night of fireflies and tiny shrimps with burning eyes.

In her first work of nonfiction, Mermaids and Ikons: A Greek Summer, originally published in 1978, beloved poet and novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen explores her stro …

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Excerpt

The windows of the night train revealed a landscape almost lunar in its starkness. The trail hugged a wall of rock made steel blue by midnight; the mountainside had the consistency of quicksilver. When we passed over the bridge at the great canal of Corinth, we seemed to be suspended in a hunk of purple midnight space. Everything dwarfed us. We were on our way to Mycenae.

The next morning, rainwater turned red as blood in the hollows of the stones in Corinth. Nikos and I stood in the ancient agora and gazed up at the mountain where holy whores once had their temple; a Byzantine castle now clings precariously to the summit. Everything’s so big in this country, I thought. What is it? Everything’s stretching and reaching and gasping for more and more space. The infamous light seems to yank things out of their contexts and present them naked and fullblown to the eye. Everything demands attention; there is nothing subtle about Greece.

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Just Like Family

Just Like Family

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged : contemporary

From the nationally bestselling author of The Hole in the Middle, a witty, insightful new novel about juggling the demands of three husbands—a work husband, an almost husband and an ex-husband—and figuring out the true meaning of family
Avery Graham has built a life that anyone would admire. She has a brilliant career as chief of staff to Peter Haines, the charismatic mayor of Toronto. She has a devoted partner in Matt, her live-in boyfriend of fourteen years. And she has a loving family an …

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The Weekend Effect

The Weekend Effect

The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork
tagged : happiness

A well-lived weekend is the gateway to a well-lived life. The Weekend Effect shows us how by saving the weekend we can save ourselves.

The weekend—the once-sacred forty-eight hours of leisure—has been lost to overbooked schedules, pinging devices and encroaching work demands. Many of us are working more hours than we did a decade ago, and worse, we allow those hours to slide over seven days a week, giving us no respite to tune out and recharge.

We don’t need the research to tell us that this …

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Me and You and the Red Canoe

Me and You and the Red Canoe

by Jean E. Pendziwol
illustrated by Phil
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

In the stillness of a summer dawn, two siblings leave their campsite with fishing rods, tackle and bait, and push a red canoe into the lake. A perfect morning on the water unfolds, with thrilling glimpses of wildlife along the way.

The narrator describes the experience vividly. Trailing a lure through the blue-green depths, the siblings paddle around a point, spotting a moose in the shallows, a beaver swimming towards its home and an eagle returning to its nest. Suddenly there is a sharp tug and …

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In a Wide Country

In a Wide Country

edition:Paperback

The mouth she drew with her red lip-liner was bigger and more shapely than her own, and it made me think, not for the first time, how wonderful life would be if I could draw a better me.

 

Twelve-year-old Jasper is watching his mother, a sometime model named Corinne, prepare herself for what he does not realize will become an unannounced escape from the life they share in Winnipeg. A short trip out of the city turns into what Corinne calls a summer of adventure, as they drive with no set destinati …

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