2017 Summer Reading: Recommended by Canadian Writers

2017 Summer Reading: Recommended by Canadian Authors via Writers' Trust of Canada 

The sun-drenched, idle days of summer are almost upon us. The Writers’ Trust reached out to 32 writers who published books in the first half of 2017 to tell us what titles they are eager to dive into in the coming weeks. From new fiction with imagination and edge to page-turning entertainment, from thought-provoking investigations to rollicking outdoor adventures – these writers have provided more than 100 book suggestions – there is definitely something here for every reader. Whether your plan is to relax under the shady branches of a tree, lounge lakeside on a dock, or gently swing in a hammock, these picks will inspire you to pack a book along with the sunglasses and sunscreen.
 


Carleigh Baker

Read, Listen, Tell | Indigenous Story Anthology

There are a lot of books I'm excited to dig into in the coming months, but hot dang do I ever get excited about reading non-fiction, so let's start with that.

Daniel Justice's Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is forthcoming from Wilfrid Laurier University Press. With a title like that, I feel like I don't need to say any more about why this book will be a must-read for many Canadians. For those of you on Twitter, Justice's #honouringindigenouswriters project is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to broaden their reading lists.

Jeffery Ansloos' The Medicine of Peace was recommended to me the other day. This book focuses on Indigenous youth, decolonizing, healing, and resisting violence.

If you like a little fiction with your theory, Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island is an anthology of stories and essays that explore core concepts in Indigenous literary expression, such as the relations between land, language, and community, and connections between oral and written forms of expression. This is going to be a game changer. But don't just take my word for it, Read, Listen, Tell was also on CBC Books spring preview list!

I know none of these titles qualify as a typical "beach read," but it's way past time to stretch the boundaries of what that means, imo. Enjoy!

Carleigh Baker’s story collection Bad Endings was published by Anvil Press in March.


Sharon Butala

Heather O'Neill | The Lonely Hearts Hotel

I'm re-reading Wallace Stegner's The Big Rock Candy Mountain (a good deal of which is about Canada) because of a project I'm working on. Stegner was for five or six years as a child, a Canadian and lived in and near Eastend, Saskatchewan, where over 60 years later I arrived and became a writer too.

Writing Menopause, edited by Jane Cawthorne and E.D. Morin, is an anthology of mixed fiction and some nonfiction, about guess what, is second on my list.

Next, I'm going to read Maggie Siggins' novel Scattered Bones. The best part is that I don't know what it's about.

Then I will read Heather O'Neill's The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Don't know what it's about either, but I grew up a raging Elvis fan whose hotel was called "Heartbreak" and which was located "down at the end of lonely street" — so this really intrigues me.

I've already read Joan Crate's Black Apple but I'm going to re-read it this summer too, re-reading having finally become something from which I get great pleasure.

This will get me through the first two weeks and I can't wait to head back to the bookstore for the next pile of books to take me through the long summer evenings and the 5:00 a.m. light. There are some benefits to being a widow living alone. I can read whenever I want! All the time!

Sharon Butala’s Where I Live Now: A Journey Through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope was published by Simon & Schuster in April.


Claire Cameron

Pasha Malla | Fugue States

Alison Pick’s Strangers with the Same Dream — Pick's new novel isn't out until late August. It starts in 1921, a band of Jewish pioneers start a kibbutz on land that will later become part of the State of Israel. The premise is full of tension, something that her past writing shows she knows how to hold perfectly. I don't want to wish the summer away, but I will be counting the days until I get my hands on it.

Carlo Rovelli’s Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity — Was I the last to realize that our ideas about realities have completely changed? I had managed to catch up to Einstein, but I had no idea how far physicists have taken his ideas since. I've heard this book is beautifully written and manageable for a non-scientist. I will swing in a hammock, read, and let my mind wander.

Pasha Malla’s Fugue States — Malla's writing is a perfect mix of entertaining and edgy. I recently heard him talk about this novel. He said that he wanted to write something his mother would enjoy reading. I have no idea if Malla's mom and I share the same taste, but I can't wait to see what he will do with this story — a life saving quest to Kashmir. When I finish, I might call his mom to compare notes.

Clarie Cameron’s novel The Last Neanderthal was published by Doubleday in April.


Trevor Cole

Emily Schultz | Men Walking on Water

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid — I don't read many thrillers but I've heard great things about Reid's sinister novel.

The Sellout
by Paul Beatty — While I'm annoyed that Americans were allowed to compete for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, the fact that a political satire won forces me to swallow my objections and read it.

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron — The prehistoric world has always fascinated me and I'm curious to see how Cameron has realized it in novel form.

The Nix by Nathan Hill — An ambitious Dickensian novel that's funny and tragic and full of inventive energy? I'm in.

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker — I love wine and I love insider stories, and this book promises to put the two together.

Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz — It fictionalizes a world and time similar to the one I explored factually in The Whisky King, and I'll be appearing with Emily later this year.

Trevor Cole’s Whisky King: The Remarkable True Story of Canada’s Most Infamous Bootlegger and the Undercover Mountie on his Trail was published by HarperCollins in April.


Karen Connelly

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson | This Accident of Being Lost

In the summer I slowly read and reread many of the books I've bought over the last year. I tend to read gluttonously, so a second sampling allows me to appreciate the books more fully. Here are a few of my favourites: 

Army Brat by D.D. West is an independently published, naturally sweetened, and addictively readable collection of linked stories about an intelligent, complex teenager growing into manhood across Canada and the world.

Lise Gaston’s lithe, strange, beautiful first book of poetry, Cityscapes in Mating Season.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s ferocious, irreverent new book of stories and songs, This Accident of Being Lost. One of the stories is called “rebellion is on her way” – and so is Simpson, decolonizing, truth-telling, and singing every single word.

Deep Salt Water by Marianne Apostolides, the most honest book I’ve ever read about abortion. Through the waves and cycles of water, it moves fathom by fathom, from the personal to the global political, slowly becoming a lament for our collective violence against this planet – these waters – we share.

Gregory Scofield’s ongoing testament to his people, and to all murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, Witness, I Am. I’ve read this book many times now and not once without crying. It’s a prayer; the whole book is a necessary prayer.

Jessica Hiemstra’s lucid, light-filled collection The Holy Nothing. Her poem “History” is monumental, about this very moment in time – yet it’s also a private, delicate echo chamber of the past. I love her explorations of oranges, Sierra Leone, divorce, the blind horse of her childhood, her grandfather’s holiness. Her language is so direct and brave that it takes the breath away. 


Karen Connelly’s novel The Change Room was published by Random House Canada in April.


Tim Cook

Andrew Pyper | The ONly Child

With the deluge of history and politics, from Canadian and international writers, I read more nonfiction than fiction. These are very much the tools to aid in writing my own books. I usually have four or five books on the go, and my reading over the last year has tilted towards better understanding the United States. Few of us have escaped the morbid fascination of Trump and American politics. I’m currently reading Stephen Azzi’s fine history of Canada-US relations, Reconcilable Differences, which has many gems in it, but argues that we are closer to the US than we often like to imagine in terms of economics, security, culture, and, yes, even politics. But I also make time for novels, especially in the summer. I’m looking forward to Elizabeth Hay’s His Whole Life, which is at the top of an unsteady pile of books near the couch, where I read in the morning. I’m also aching to get at Andrew Pyper’s new novel, The Only Child. I’ve read all his previous works that are infused with loss, grief, ghosts, and the supernatural, including his superb but disturbing The Demonologist. It is guaranteed to chill during Ottawa’s humid summer. 


Tim Cook’s Vimy: The Battle and the Legend was published by Allen Lane in March.

Dawn Dumont

Kerry Clare | Mitzi Bytes

I pretty much read everything under the sun from nonfiction to historical romances, I am always on the lookout for a talented voice. 

Currently, I am reading Kerry Clare's Mitzi Bytes and enjoying being in the head of a mom with a secret life, as I am a mom and I feel like I currently have 21 lives on the go. This summer I'm planning to re-read Sylvia McAdam's Nationhood Interrupted because it describes what reconciliation should look like. I'm also planning to read Kateri Akwienzie Damm's The Stone Diaries and Leanne Simpson's This Accident of Being Lost.

Dawn Dumont’s collection of short stories Glass Beads was published by Thistledown in May.


Omar El Akkad

Benjamin Hertwig | Slow War

I’m very excited for – and somewhat in awe of – a debut poetry collection called Slow War by Benjamin Hertwig, which tells, loosely, the story of a Canadian soldier who goes to Afghanistan and comes back home with the war still inside him. I think it’s going to be beautiful and sad, and also dangerous in the way only truly honest literature can be. I’m also looking forward to another debut poetry collection called Today We’re American by Fatimah Asghar, a Chicago-based writer and performer whose work often deals with the strange and ill-defined business of being brown in the United States. And I can't wait to read a small book called Silence in the Age of Noise by Norwegian author/adventurer/hand model Erling Kagge (translated by Becky L. Crook). It is, essentially, a meditation on noise and the absence of noise – not a particularly elaborate description for a book. And yet, for reasons I can’t quite explain, I’m convinced this is going to be a one-sitting read.

Omar El Akkad’s novel American War was published by McClelland & Stewart in April.


Sarah Ellis

Richard Wagamese | Embers

This month I became a senior citizen. In celebration of that milestone I’m indulging in buying books. On the bedside table at the moment are Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder, Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible, Lisa Moore’s Flannery and Richard Wagamese’s Embers, all copies of my very own that I can lend out to the deserving once I’m done. (Once a librarian always a librarian.) On the holds list at the library are some things I missed on the first pass: History of the Rain by Niall Williams, The Greenhouse by Audur Olafsdottir, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, and a collection of short stories by Margaret Drabble.


Sarah Ellis’ Waiting for Sophie, a chapter book for intermediate readers, was published by Pajama Press in April. 


Melanie Florence

Melanie Fishbane | Maud

Funny enough, my summer reading list so far, seems to mostly include YA titles! I haven’t put a dent in it yet but it keeps getting longer. The books at the top of my MUST READ list are:

Maud by Melanie Fishbane
The Explorers by Adrienne Kress
Blood on the Beach by Robin Stevenson and Sarah Harvey
Summer’s End by Joel Sutherland
The Wonder by Emma Donaghue
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins


Melanie Florence published two teen novels earlier this year: He Who Dreams with Orca Books in January; and Rez Rebel with James Lorimer in April.


Stacey May Fowles

Rebecca Rosenblum | So Much Love

I'm cheating a little bit here, but I'm currently about halfway through and completely loving Rebecca Rosenblum's thoughtful and fast-paced So Much Love. It's a smart summer read, and I am so looking forward to booking some relaxing time in the sun to finish it up. I can't wait to dive into Pasha Malla's latest novel, Fugue States, as I think he's one of the more irreverent, inventive, and daring minds working fiction today. Also on my pressing to-read list is Grace O'Connell's new novel, Be Ready for the Lightning, and Diane Schoemperlen's collection First Things First: Selected Stories. In fact, there's simply not enough summer for all the reading I'm looking forward to this year.

Stacey May Fowles’ Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me was published by McClelland & Stewart in April.


Alex Good

Elaine Dewar | The Handover

Among the new Canadian books I'll be reading this summer are:

Fugue States by Pasha Malla
The Handover by Elaine Dewar
The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

I've also got some older CanLit titles on deck to return to, including”

Origin of Species by Nino Ricci
Galveston by Paul Quarrington
Helpless by Barbara Gowdy





Alex Good’s Revolutions: Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction was published by Biblioasis in March.


Barbara Gowdy

Dennis Lee | Heart Residence

I had the privilege of reading Linda Spalding’s forthcoming novel, A Reckoning, in manuscript. It takes off where her Governor-General’s-Award winning novel, The Purchase, left off and is just as fine. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes she has made and to re-immersing myself in her historical vision. I also read Bill Gaston’s new collection, A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage, before it went to print, and when it’s published this autumn, I’ll dip into it again because Gaston is a master of the form, somebody I can learn from. Another historical novel I’m eager to read is a first novel by Katherine Ashenburg, whose nonfiction is so intelligent and arresting. The great Dennis Lee’s has 50 years of collected poems coming out (Heart Residence) and that’s certainly on my to-read list, as are The Break by Katherena Vermette and Independent People by Halldór Laxness. The Laxness novel isn’t new, of course, but I only recently learned of it.

Barbara Gowdy’s novel Little Sister was published by Patrick Crean Editions in April.


Stephen Henighan

Richard Wagamese | Medicine Walk

The death of Richard Wagamese prompted me to discover his work. After reading Medicine Walk, I realized I'd been missing out on an important Canadian writer. I will be reading more Wagamese this summer. Two books which have been sitting on my shelves for far too long, and which I plan to read this summer, are A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys (whose Wolf Solent struck me as almost magical) and Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queiroz. I've read one other Queiroz novel, the Flaubertian O Primo Basílio (Cousin Basilio) and am looking forward to Os Maias, by reputation the greatest novel of 19th-century Portugal.




Stephen Henighan’s novel Mr. Singh Among the Fugitives was published by Linda Leith in March.


Catherine Hernandez

Andre Alexis | The Hidden KeysSince I am a playwright who is fairly new to fiction, I enjoy focusing on one author, reading all of their work and clocking all the ways in which that author has grown from story to story, in the hopes that I too will grow by leaps and bounds with my next novel. Last cycle of books, I focused on the work of Farzana Doctor. This summer I am focusing on the work of André Alexis. I plowed through Fifteen Dogs. Now I plan on starting from his earliest novel Childhood and hopefully get to The Hidden Keys by the time the cicadas begin buzzing in the trees.





Catherine Hernandez’ novel Scarborough was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in May.


Kate Hilton

Michael Harris | Solitude

My summer reading list is full of Canadian writers. This is not because of the Canada 150 celebrations, although that would be a good reason also, but because I was at several independent bookstores on Authors for Indies Day and I couldn’t help myself. Indie booksellers are just too good at selling books, especially Canadian ones! So my bedside table is now groaning under the weight of the following titles, which I can’t wait to read:

Rebecca Rosenblum’s So Much Love
Michael Harris’s Solitude
Kamal Al-Solaylee’s Brown
Terry Fallis’s One Brother Shy
Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven
Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

In addition to these great Canadian reads, I’ll be devouring the final two books in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. I absolutely loved the first two novels, and have been anxiously awaiting the advent of my summer reading binge so that I can find out what happens next.

Kate Hilton’s novel Just Like Family was published by HarperCollins in May.


Mark Kingwell

Robertson Davies | The Merry Heart

My stack of summer reads features an odd assortment, but I guess that’s because I like to mix books the way I mix cocktails: disparate elements that somehow achieve balance. I’m looking forward to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, one of Grace Paley’s luminous short-story collections, where every tale is a compressed world. I also love Cold War thrillers, and the best ones I know are by Desmond Cory, featuring his witty, sardonic sociopath protagonist, Johnny Fedora. Don’t be put off by the goofy name – these books reveal Ian Fleming as the genre-tyro he was (there are even some sly Bond jokes here and there). The final volume in the so-called Feramontov Quintet, in which Fedora tangles with an equally brilliant opposite number, is Sunburst.

That one is for sleepy porch afternoons in August. Before that, I’m going back to the future. Robertson Davies’s posthumous collection of lectures and miscellaneous writing, The Merry Heart, has long been on my reading radar, not least because it addresses topics that are now more urgent than ever: the fate of reading, cultural nationalism, and the limits of imagination. As an itinerant public lecturer myself, I also appreciate his self-deprecation about the form, which is ripe with folly. “We Canadians are gluttons for instruction,” Davies informed one audience; “we dote on lectures.” I hope so, now as well as then.

Finally, some poetry. Montrealer Joshua Trotter’s second collection of poems, Mission Creep, has been waiting patiently on the table for the moments when I could savour this clever, funny poet’s signature mixture of high allusion, low culture, and technical brilliance. He’s a master who should be celebrated more.

Mark Kingwell’s Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters was published by Biblioasis in April.


Grant Lawrence

Jeff Lemire | Roughneck

I am a big fan of graphic novelist Jeff Lemire from Toronto. I loved his Secret Path collaboration with Gord Downie, and am I now savouring and devouring his stunning new graphic novel Roughneck. It's all about the backside of a hockey career seeped in violence, and the fall out that occurs when you end up out of the game and into your backwater hometown... with a reputation. The novel takes the reader to unexpected, surprising, and emotional places, and the story at times moves at the speed of Dougie Gilmour on a breakaway circa 1993.




Grant Lawrence’s Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries was published by Douglas & McIntyre in May. 


Kyo Maclear

David Chariandy | Brother

I'm not sure I have much to add to the swell of anticipation for David Chariandy’s second novel Brother — only that I read this in manuscript and the gut-punch of it, the mesmerism of David’s beautiful and sensitive prose, has stayed with me.

Brother is about state violence perpetrated on black lives. It is about the intricacies and distortions of masculinity and boyhood. It is about the racial geographies of Canada and the wild urban-natural spaces that give deeper resonance to white canonical myths of ‘survival.’ It is also about storytelling as an emotionally and lyrically enveloping experience.

There are many writers I enjoy, adore, respect, but fewer writers that I see as essential. David is one of them. I plan to linger with this book this summer.

Kyo Maclear’s memoir Birds Art Life was published by Doubleday in January.


Pasha Malla

Marianne Apostolides | Deep Salt Water

Deep Salt Water by Marianne Apostolides
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Feel Happier in 9 Seconds by Linda Besner
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
Unreasonable Hours by Julio Cortázar
David Boring by Daniel Clowes
Augustown by Kei Miller
I Am the Brother of XX and These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy
Experimental Animals by Thalia Field
The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin





Pasha Malla’s novel Fugue States was published by Knopf in May. 


Elan Mastai

Omar El Akkad | American War

My summer reading pile keeps growing and growing. It includes three recent books strongly recommended to me by friends: American War by Omar El Akkad, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and After James by Michael Helm. I like smart, imaginative speculative fiction, so I’m also excited to read All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, Version Control by Dexter Palmer, and The Wanderers by Meg Howery. And I found what I think will be a perfect beach read in the mystery Rum Luck by Ryan Aldred, since it’s actually set at a bar on the Costa Rican beach.




Elan Mastai’s novel All Our Wrong Todays was published by Doubleday in February.


Grace O'Connell

Suzette Mayr | Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall

While I'm sure my summer reading list will expand (until my nightstand is in danger of collapsing), the titles at the top of it so far are: So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum, The Break by Katherena Vermette, and Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr. I had the pleasure of hearing the first two authors read from their books and was hooked instantly, and I am a sucker for a campus novel (with a sentient, malevolent university building no less!) so Mayr's book rounds out a trio that I am extremely excited to dive into.





Grace O’Connell’s novel Be Ready for the Lightening was published by Random House Canada in June. 


Heather O'Neill

Chelsea Vowel | Indigenous Writes

I consider Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Metis & Inuit Issues in Canada necessary reading for the moment. Every Canadian should get a copy. It answered so many questions I had and enlightened me about dangerous preconceptions. I’ve been referencing it since I read it and quoting Vowel when Indigenous issues arise in conversation or in the news. It’s also written in a humourous, edgy, and entertaining manner, which is remarkable, considering the amount of ground covered. I’m thankful this book exists.

Vivek Shraya’s Even this Page is White was a fantastic book of poems. It challenges complacency and widens your scope of the world. And you will enjoy having your perception heightened. It is a delicate play between pop cultural references and profound reflections on systematic inequality. I gave it to my daughter’s friend who refuses to read books, because it is so seductive. 

I would also put a word in for The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. It was all the rage in the UK and has made its way over to North America. It’s set in Victorian England, where a happily widowed woman sets out on a naturalist expedition of the coast, looking for the Essex Serpent, a creature who the town believes is lurking in the water and is responsible for all their woes. 

Heather O'Neill's The Lonely Hearts Hotel was published by HarperCollins in February.


Katrina Onstad

Karen Connelly | The Change Room

Writing about sex is so fraught. Blow it (ahem), and you’ll never get the reader back. So I always try to pick up the book when I hear that a writer has pulled off the hot without the embarrassing. Karen Connelly’s latest, The Change Room, is drawing big praise for its depiction of a married woman’s surprising, transformative affair. Reviews and fans affirm that the novel meets every one of my Perfect Summer Read criteria: urban, witty, funny, sexy, humane, and no doubt as elegantly written as Connelly’s past works. We tend to give so much attention to debut novelists, but I love watching a writer evolve, and Connelly is building a beautiful body of work. And now she’s offering us a Fear of Flying book! Who could say no? 

Katrina Onstad’s The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork was published by HarperCollins in April.


David Alexander Robertson

Eden Robinson | Son of a Trickster

Full disclosure: I am so busy writing my own stuff, that I don’t have a ton of time to read in the coming months. That being said, as I tell students when I visit their classrooms: if you want to be a better writer, read. So, I will find time to read here and there, and this is what I am looking forward to. Katherena Vermette has a graphic novel coming out in the fall and I am pumped to read it. It’s actually part of a series entitled A Girl Called Echo and it details the history of the Metis people. The first issue is about the Pemmican Wars, published by HighWater Press. Also by HighWater, Penny Thomas, who won the McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People three years ago, is publishing her second book. I’ll be reading Nimoshom and His Bus to my kids, for sure. Finally, I want to catch up on reading what is by all accounts an incredible book, and that’s Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. I’m positive I can squeeze it all in!

David Alexander Robertson’s picture book When We Were Alone was illustrated by Julie Flett and published by HighWater Press in December 2016 (and continues to be read and enjoyed in 2017). 


Eden Robinson

Dawn Dumont | Glass Beads

Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont. This just came out but I haven’t had time to read this yet – her honestly funny Nobody Cries at Bingo was one of my favourite coming of age stories.

Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. Coming soon from Talon Books, an Indigiqueer YA novel that I've read excerpted bits in Prairie Fire and The Malahat Review.

Buckskin Cocaine by Erika Wurth spills the tea on the Indigifilm in the US of A. Loved her Crazy Horse's Girlfriend.




Eden Robinson’s novel Son of a Trickster was published by Knopf in February.


Rebecca Rosenblum

Scacci Koul | One Day We'll All be Dead and None of this Will Matter

I'm planning on finally getting into Lori McNulty's Life on Mars, which I tried to borrow from my husband but he took back for a long time and finally returned to me. I'd like to finish the Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine anthology but it's a bit heavy to carry – so much good stuff! That might be for weekends on the balcony. I also have Scaachi Koul's essay collection One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter and Joshua Ferris's The Dinner Party and Other Stories that I'm really looking forward to (I just had a birthday, so I'm particularly rich in books right before the summer). Those should get me into July, anyway...


Rebecca Rosenblum’s novel So Much Love was published by McClelland & Stewart in March.


Karolyn Smardz Frost

Walker and Jones | Burnley "Rocky" Jones Revolutionary

We are lucky enough to live in a rambling Victorian so we never get rid of a book - we just add another bookshelf! Summer reading is one of life's great joys.

I read everything but mysteries are my current go-to for pure entertainment. I have been re-reading all of Louise Penny's astonishingly evocative and poetic Inspector Gamache novels in preparation for her upcoming volume, Glass Houses, hitting the bookstores this August.

Intrigued by ways in which insightful fiction writers can further our understanding of actual figures from our Canadian past, I am excited to read Cecily Ross's The Lost Diaries of Susannna Moodie. I have also just picked up my favourite fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky in paperback.

As for nonfiction I am looking forward to James St George Walker and Rocky Jones' autobiography, Burnley "Rocky" Jones, Revolutionary, with forward by George Elliott Clarke. I have ordered Herb Boyd's Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination, reflecting my fascination with borders, borderlands, and the Underground Railroad.

A must-read this summer is Augusta Dwyer's The Anatomy of Giving, with inspiring stories of people challenging current mechanisms of charitable giving to help alleviate the aid crisis in Haiti.

Finally, summer is a perfect time to read and re-read poetry. My favourite Canadian poets have long been Afua Cooper and Don Domanski, and I have recently been delving into the work of John J. Guinea Yallop and Zack Wells. I can't wait to read whatever their next volumes might be!

Karolyn Smardz Frost’s Steal Away Home: One Woman’s Epic Flight to Freedom – and Her Long Road Back to the South was published by HarperCollins in January.


Emily Schultz

Carleigh Baker | Bad Endings

Claire Cameron's The Last Neanderthal has me intrigued; I'm so done with 2017, and I am fully ready to commit to 30000 BC.

Carleigh Baker's Bad Endings came out this spring. She is a tough and funny writer whose stories arrive at the truth in the most beautiful of ways.

I'm also looking forward to Megan Stielstra's The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, releasing in August. No other essayist takes the reader into her mind and soul with as much craft and storytelling game as she can.






Emily Schultz’ novel Men Walking on Water was published by Random House Canada in March.


Antanas Sileika

Lesley Krueger | Bad Endings

Spring fever leads to summer lust, and the sexiest book I want to read is Karen Connelly's The Change Room, about a passionate affair that begins after a few glances in a communal shower. I was one of the editors who published Lesley Kreuger's first stories in Descant before she disappeared into the world of film a few decades ago, but Publisher's Weekly says her new novel, Mad Richard, is great, so I want to read that. I wasn't actually planning on reading Pasha Malla's new novel, Fugue States, but I glanced at a few pages in a bookstore and got hooked. My East European roots called to me as soon as I saw there was a new biography of Czesalw Milosz called, as you might imagine, Czeslaw Milosz, by Andrzej Franaszek. I am also a big fan of Eva Stachniak, so I am looking forward to her The Chosen Maiden because it deals with Nijinsky and his world and I wrote about that period in Paris once upon a time as well.

Antanas Sileika’s memoir The Barefoot Bingo Caller was published by ECW in May.


Merilyn Simonds

Eva Crocker | Barrelling Forward

Summer is my time for catch-up reading. For a hit of pure surrealism, China Miéville’s 2016 “novella” The Last Days of the New Paris. Then, Newfoundlander Eva Crocker's brazen, take-no-prisoners debut story collection Barrelling Forward and Molly Peacock's The Analyst, a poetic exploration of her own psychotherapy. When the perfect quiet day arrives, Michael Harris’s Solitude. And for my week at the cottage, Paul Auster’s doorstopper, 4321.







Merilyn Simonds' Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels, & the Lasting Impression of Books was published by ECW in 2017.


Paul Watson

David Grann | Killers of the Flower Moon

My nose has been stuck in polar explorers' tales, Lady Franklin's voluminous journals and letters, and the scrawl of my own notebooks for more than two years working on Ice Ghosts. Now for something completely different, a course change that I hope will be as liberating as summer itself.

Top of the list is Eden Robison's Son of a Trickster. Jared sounds familiar. I'm eager to see where our roads cross.

Next is David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon. I’m jealous.

I'll cap it off with acclaimed scientist Robert Lanza's Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death. Lanza's first book persuaded me that consciousness may indeed create reality. Now I'm hoping to hear how quantum mechanics might explain ghosts.

Paul Watson's Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition was published by McClelland & Stewart in March.

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