Recommended Reading List
9781487003432_cover
Download list
Please login or register to use this feature.

Editors' Picks: Week of August 5–11

By kileyturner
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
tagged:
These five books are quite the sign that the FALL 2019 lit season is going to be huge.
Watermark

Watermark

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

In these evocative and startling stories, we meet people navigating the elemental forces of love, life, and death. An insomniac on Halifax’s moonlit streets. A runaway bride. A young woman accused of a brutal murder. A man who must live in exile if he is to live at all. A woman coming to terms with her eccentric childhood in a cult on the Bay of Fundy shore.

A master of North Atlantic Gothic, Christy Ann Conlin expertly navigates our conflicting self-perceptions, especially in moments of crisis …

More Info
Excerpt

We moved to the North Mountain the summer I was four and my mother was pregnant with my little sister, Morgaine. My father made the house himself and we lived in a tent pitched in a meadow surrounded by forest while he built it. My mother told me this. I remember the tent was green and there was a path through the meadow to the house. I loved this path, which cut through the tall grasses. In the meadow, purple vetch threaded up through the grass stems and touched my mother’s round belly. The grasses grew so high they were taller than me, but I could look up and see how they touched my mother’s breasts. I drew pictures on her stomach with icing coloured with beet and carrot juice. Then she’d let me lick it off. The acreage was mostly forest, except for the clearing around a large, rickety barn. They put a sandbox in the clearing where I played with my pail and shovel.

There was also a path through the woods. It was a twisting path my father had cut through the pines to the clifftop jutting out from the trees over the Bay of Fundy. He called the path “the labyrinth of life.” It snaked through the forest to the perilous brink of the cliff. The path was difficult and winding, with sharp turns where you had to slow down. My father said this was the main purpose of his pathway: everyone was forced to stop hurrying and consider their journey as it unfolded. People needed to be open to sudden turns and trust the way ahead. Being in the moment would take over and time would lose meaning. Before you knew it, you would arrive at your destination, and le voilà, enlightenment, or éclaircissement, as the French Acadians say, when you reached the bench of wisdom! Every age had an awakening, her father said, with those like him, who were called to be its prophets, ushering in the awakening. On a clear day you could stand at the edge of the cliff and see all the way down the bay toward Maine, which was four exhilarating hours away by boat as the crow flies or a long, boring two-day drive by car, as my father explained.

The bench at the edge of the crumbling cliff my father had made from driftwood, which the elements had cast to a silvery white. He encouraged us to sit on the bench and look for water nymphs. He insisted people had been spotting them in the bay for generations. They swam in with the tide, he proclaimed, as though he were a marine biologist with a peculiar specialization.

close this panel
Akin

Akin

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover

In her first contemporary novel since Room, bestselling author Emma Donoghue returns with her next masterpiece, a brilliant tale of love, loss and family. A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets.

Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nep …

More Info
Night of Power

Night of Power

edition:Paperback

A portrait of a Muslim family--from the heady days in Uganda to hard times in a new country, and the tragic accident that forces them to confront the ghosts of the past
"Anar Ali's Night of Power is a searing and beautiful novel. With perfect pitch, the story glides between the perspectives of father, mother, and son. It is an honest and utterly engaging meditation about love and loss, tenderness and violence, adaptability and delusion, dislocation and rebirth." --Lawrence Hill, author of The Bo …

More Info
Excerpt

Prologue 
Mansoor Visram wakes to a fluting sound, a distant melody like a muezzin’s call. He half-opens his eyes. Dark fields extend to the horizon and merge seamlessly with the night sky. A perfect circle. The prairie hills are massive fro­zen waves. He feels something pecking at his feet. He lifts his head. A small domed shape bobs up and down at his feet, hammering at his icy body. The bird flies up and hovers over his chest. Her body is brilliant blue; her crown golden. Her breast is plump and glazed with rhinestone tassels instead of feathers. Mansoor is amazed that she can fly. He swipes the air and tries to catch her, but she flies up and out of reach. He plants his hands on the snow and struggles to stand, his veins a map of frozen rivers. The bird flies ahead of him and waits, like a siren willing him forward. A few steps and he falls to his knees. His clothes are an armour of ice. In the distance, the city lights are a pale smudge in the sky. He tries to stand again but his body jars, like a ship caught in icy waters. “Get up, Visram!” he orders himself. “Move!” Instead he falls, curls in the soft snow, and drifts off again. The bird lands on his shoulder. She nudges her way up to his ear and begins to sing.

Chapter 1

Mansoor tries to clear the frost from the glass door of his store with a handkerchief. Instead, he creates a pattern of semicircles over the front sign, M.G. Visram & Son Dry Cleaners, Inc., Suiting Canada Since 1987. Outside, a thin, sharp snow is falling, the flurries visible only under the street lamps. It’s past seven in the morning and still pitch dark. The winter sun will not rise for at least another hour. Most of the stores in the shopping plaza, located in an upscale neigh­bourhood in southwest Calgary, are closed: the travel agency, the hairdresser, the dentist’s office, the video store. Only the dry cleaners and the twenty-four-hour convenience store are open, like fluorescent snow globes in the dark.
   Mansoor turns around and inspects his store, just as he does each morning. It’s a small space, only five hundred and fifty-three square feet, but it’s well organized and this gives him a great deal of satisfaction. Gold frames pock the wall above the cash register, like a collage of family photographs. In one, a dollar bill, the first one he earned in Canada, from August 1973. In another, his business licence, and yet another, his pledge to his customers. “I may not have the answer, but I will find it. I may not have the time, but I will make it.” Against another wall, a short bookshelf holds his books with titles like In Search of Excellence and Men’s Strength & Power Training, as well as biographies of men like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and Neil Armstrong. The front of the store is separated from the back by a glass wall, allowing his customers to see what a well-organized operation he runs. Rows of suits and shirts, swathed in plastic, hang on a conveyor belt like headless men.
   In the backroom, he flips open a calendar to an image of a lone Arctic wolf. A note under today’s date, January 21, has been circled in red and starred. Banker, 3:30 p.m. Mansoor is ready. Fully prepared. He has been for months now. He needs the funds for a dry-cleaning plant, which is central to his new business plan. He has been waiting even longer to share his plan with his son, Ashif. He is the only one who will truly understand its enormity and significance in the marketplace. He is, after all, a brilliant businessman. Just like his father. Tomorrow, Mansoor will finally get his chance. Ashif is com­ing home for lunch when he is here from Toronto to attend important work meetings.
   Above Mansoor’s desk hangs a massive portrait of his father, a copy of the original photo that hung in all of their stores in Uganda, next to the image of Idi Amin, decreed by law, and one of the Imam, expected by the community. A trinity of men. In the photograph, his father stands proudly in front of his flagship store in Kampala. He is tall and rotund, his body weight proof of his wealth. He is in an ivory three-piece suit; a gold pocket watch, purchased in London, hangs from the vest pocket. His hands rest regally on top of a cane with a silver lion’s head. High above him, the sign reads, Visram P. Govindji & Son, Established 1929.

close this panel
All the Wrong Moves

All the Wrong Moves

A Memoir About Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything
edition:Hardcover

An enthralling journey into the world of chess--a story of heartbreak, obsession, failure, and the hunger for greatness.

Sasha Chapin is a victim of chess. Like countless amateurs before him--Albert Einstein, Humphrey Bogart, and Marcel Duchamp among them--the game has consumed his life and his mind. First captivated by it as a member of his high school chess club, he found his passion rekindled during an accidental encounter with chess hustlers on the streets of Kathmandu. In its aftermath, he f …

More Info
Excerpt

The 600 Million
Perhaps the surest sign that you’re in love is that you can’t stop talking. You find yourself announcing the name of your beloved at the slightest provocation. Given any opportunity, you engage in a vain attempt to explain your infatuation. Everything else seems unworthy of a single moment’s attention or discussion. No matter how shy or stoic you are, real affection demands expression.

And this is no less true when the object of your affection is the game of chess. In other words, when you’re me.

But this poses a bit of a problem. It’s tricky to explain the appeal of chess to someone who doesn’t play. Unlike the beauty of other sports, the majesty of chess is somewhat opaque to the uninitiated. Basketball, I’m sure, has infinitesimal subtleties I can’t fully appreciate, but when I’m watching a game, I can still sense that LeBron is doing something really cool. The sheer physicality is imposing—the taut calves, the curves carved in the air by the ball meeting the basket. Not so with chess. All you do is look at two nerds staring at a collection of tiny figurines.

And yet, my love of chess demands that I continue, that I somehow communicate why chess captivates me in ways that nothing else ever could. Why I’ve neglected food, sex, and friendship, on many an occasion, for its charms. Why nothing—not love, not amphetamines, not physical danger—makes my heart beat harder than the process of cornering an opponent’s king.

If you think this is crazy, I agree. But it deserves mentioning that I’m not the only crazy one. Albert Einstein and Humphrey Bogart were similarly affected by the thirty-two pieces on the sixty-four squares. And, some centuries before that, Caliph Muhammad al-Amin, ruler of the Abbasid empire, insisted on continuing a promising endgame as marauders penetrated his throne room, decapitating him shortly after he delivered checkmate.

I didn’t get decapitated, so my affair with chess really wasn’t so bad. All I got was the total consumption of my soul.

Like so many affairs, it began with an accidental flirtation that became an all-devouring union—two years during which I did little else but pursue chess mastery. Despite my obvious lack of talent, I leapt across continents to play in far-flung competitions, studied with an eccentric grandmaster, spent almost all of my money, neglected my loved ones, and accumulated a few infections. And I did it all for a brief shot at glory—a chance to take down some real players at a tournament in Los Angeles, where my place in humanity was determined, as far as I’m concerned.

Maybe if you come back with me, through those nights of chasing imaginary kings with imaginary queens, along my winding road to the San Fernando Valley, you’ll understand my love of chess. Maybe you’ll even understand why, according to recent estimates, one in twelve people in the world play chess in some capacity. Maybe you’d like to know what’s been captivating well over 600 million souls while you were doing whatever you do.

Frankly, I didn’t feel like I was doing much until chess came along. Sure, there were momentary rages, dwindling loves, and, occasionally, a charming vista. But it was all part of an unformed sequence of anecdotes, through which I was stumbling sideways, grasping at whatever I could, whether it was some form of self-destruction or a nice afternoon walk. By contrast, when chess appeared, it felt like a possession—like a spirit had slipped a long finger up through my spine, making me a marionette, pausing only briefly to ask, “You weren’t doing anything with this, were you?”

close this panel
Breaking the Ocean

Breaking the Ocean

A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Annahid Dashtgard was born into a supportive mixed-race family in 1970s Iran. Then came the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ushered in a powerful and orthodox religious regime. Her family was forced to flee their homeland, immigrating to a small town in Alberta, Canada. As a young girl, Dashtgard was bullied, shunned, and ostracized by both her peers at school and adults in the community. Home offered little respite as her parents were embroiled in their own struggles, exposing the sharp contrast …

More Info
Excerpt

It is the beginning of September, the first day of school, and the sun is flirting with making an appearance. Butterflies fill my stomach, but in a good way. Today marks my four-year-old daughter’s first day of attending the “big school” at the end of our street. She’s wearing the robin’s-egg-blue dress I bought for her birthday earlier this year with the silver filigree design down the front — an echo of her Middle Eastern roots. My husband Shakil and I leave the house to drop her off together. With her marching gait, laser-beam gaze, and set mouth, she seems fine. Better off than her mama.

I feel alone. The paralyzing isolation I felt during the early years of motherhood has given way to tenuous new connections with many other parents — through daycare, local Facebook groups, and community gatherings — but I’m still off balance. Despite reaching middle age, despite having achieved professional success, despite all the wonderful things and people in my life, this moment undoes me.

The sight of monkey bars and green playing field makes me feel tight and floaty at the same time. I know it’s because a part of me was left behind in a place just like this, where I learned that in order to survive I had to make myself disappear. I can’t catch my breath. I feel dislocated.

My daughter runs into the play area without a backward glance, and I call her back to give her one last hug. “Enjoy your first day at your new school, Baba. I love you so much,” I whisper. I can’t tell if it’s her or some earlier version of myself that I watch twist and spin away, the past collapsing into the present. All I know is that my daughter’s story begins with my story. And my story begins with my people.

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...