2013 Warm Weather Reads: Recommended by Canadian Writers

We asked a number of prominent writers to share with us their reading recommendations for the summer of 2013. See what books they are most looking forward to reading this summer, and some titles they’ve read in the past that they whole-heartedly endorse.

James Bartleman

I'm really looking forward to reading this summer Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, one of Canada's most talented established writers, and Kafka's Hat by emerging author Patrice Martin.

And as a special treat, I will indulge myself by reading once again the Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, one of my all-time favourite Canadian novelists.

James Bartleman's novel The Redemption of Oscar Wolf was published in June 2013.

Kenneth Bonert

I'm not one to look very far ahead to what's next to read, I'm afraid. But happy to share my current list: Right now I'm reading Nathan Englander's book of stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Ulysses by James Joyce. Up next is an advance copy from my US publisher of Robert Stone's new novel, Death of the Black-Haired Girl. Then a biography of Robert Oppenheimer called A Life Inside the Centre, by Ray Monk. Then The Odyssey, translated by Stanley Lombardo.

Would recommend as past-read titles for summer reading from Canadian writers, Sheila Heti's How Should A Person Be? and Emma Donoghue's Room.

Kenneth Bonert's debut novel The Lion Seeker was published in February 2013. 

Jowita Bydlowska

Recommendations: (1) Girl Crazy by Russell Smith. It’s really funny, gritty, sexy and it flows beautifully. (2) Various Positions by Martha Schabas, which is a story of coming of age (and coming of sexuality) that’s just superbly plotted out and disturbing in the best way that makes the reader come away happy with the story development while feeling slightly uncomfortable. (3) Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger, which is just a brilliant book that’s smart, filthy and written in a direct, original voice.

Summer reading: The Lullaby for Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk and (re-reading) Noise by Russell Smith. There are many others that I will probably read but I tend not to plan ahead too much like that, I hate when it (my reading) feels like homework. 

Jowita Bydlowska's memoir Drunk Mom was published in April 2013.

Lauren B. Davis

Looking forward to reading: The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, Caught by Lisa Moore, The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper, Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady, The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam, The Miracles of Ordinary Men by Amanda Leduc, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. And that should take me through until August.

The books I’ve read which I’d recommend people consider are: any book written by Kent Haruf, but especially Plainsong, which still breaks my heart, in a good way; The Truth About Stories by Thomas King – it’s brilliant and funny and wise; The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy – one of the books which made me want to be a writer, and which, sadly, few people seem to read any longer … criminal!

Lauren B. Davis's novel The Empty Room was published in May 2013.

Susan Delacourt

Given how much Toronto has been in the news of late, it seems a good time to read about the city. I read Magnified World, by Grace O'Connell, a while back and just loved the way it immersed me in Toronto. And this summer, I am very much looking forward to reading Some Great Idea by Edward Keenan, which promises to tell the story of "a city that is bigger than its mayor." I also am very keen to read Desiring Canada: CBC Contests, Hockey Violence and Other Stately Pleasures by Patricia Cormack and James F. Cosgrave, because it touches on some of the themes I've written about in my own book, specifically, how our national identity got tied up with beer, hockey, and doughnuts.

Susan Delacourt’s next book Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them will be published in September 2013.

Lewis DeSoto

After hearing Lauren B. Davis read from The Empty Room, I had no doubts that I wanted to read the rest of the book. The novel chronicles a day and night in the life of a middle-aged woman alcoholic. The subject enough is unique in Canadian fiction, and when told with Davis' usual unflinching honesty, it promises to be unforgettable. Donna Morrissey writes straight from the heart. Her novels are brimming with emotion, and for me, having never visited the Maritimes, there is always something 'exotic' about Morrissey's world. I look forward to reading her latest, The Deception of Livvy Higgs.

Every now and then, since first finding a copy in a used bookstore about twenty years ago, I return periodically to the Norwegian writer Martin A. Hansen's The Liar. The novel is set on a tiny island in the Danish Archipelago and is narrated by the schoolteacher. The story is deceptively simple, yet remains haunting after all these years.

Lewis DeSoto’s latest novel The Restoration Artist was published in May 2013.

Don Gillmor

A book I loved was Cockroach by Rawi Hage. A wonderful story brilliantly told; his depiction of Montreal is one of the most vivid and resonant since Mordecai Richler.

What books I am most looking forward to reading this summer? Caught by Lisa Moore. February was such a gem; I want to read her new one. A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam. I loved Some Great Thing [McAdam’s 2004 debut novel]. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout. I heard her read from it and was completely caught up in the story and language.

Don Gillmor’s latest novel Mount Pleasant was published in March 2013.

Douglas Glover

I am going to shortly read George Fetherling's The Writing Life, Journals, 1975-2005. Also re-reading Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Andre Breton's novel Nadja. New books: Ror Wolf's Two or Three Years Later: Forty Nine Digressions, also Tranquility by Attila Bartis.

A work I just read which I recommend highly is Alexander Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter, a short novel, fascinating for its construction (multiple orphans and adoptions) and its ironic and elegant use of genre (the family memoir). There's a wonderful essay you can read along with it “Pushkin’s Novel The Captain’s Daughter as Fictional Family Memoir” by Leslie O’Bell published online by the North American Pushkin Society.

Douglas Glover’s latest collection of stories Savage Love will be published in September 2013.

Helen Humphreys

Books I am most looking forward to reading this summer:  A Geography of Blood by Candace Savage, The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai, and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

Books I have read recently that I would highly recommend: Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.


Helen Humphrey’s memoir Nocturne: On the Life and Death of My Brother was published in March 2013.

Shaena Lambert

I’m currently writing something that takes place in a single day, so my plan this summer is to read novels that take place within 24 hours. This includes Saturday by Ian McEwen, Seize the Day by Saul Bellow, and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I am drawing the line at Ulysses. On my table I also have Colin McAdam’s new book, A Beautiful Truth, told in part from the point of view of a chimpanzee. I’m also really looking forward to reading Bill Gaston’s new novel The World. I am an avid reader of Bill Gaston’s short stories and I recommend his wonderful writing. I’m also looking forward to Kelli Deeth’s new book of stories The Other Side of Youth.

A final book I would recommend is Jack Hodgins’ The Master of Happy Endings. I loved this book. It’s so tender and intelligent, and perfectly captures life on a small island.

Shaena Lambert’s collection of stories Oh, My Darling will be published in September 2013.

David Macfarlane

I'm looking forward to reading Don Gilmour's Mount Pleasant on a dock this summer. Also, I am also looking forward to re-reading Molly Peacock's The Paper Garden – re-reading because I had to read it more hurriedly than I wanted as part of my duties a few years ago on a literary prize jury. And because my daughter loved it.

I always take Proust (Remembrance of Things Past) up north – the best summer holiday, late-afternoon, gin-and-tonic read there is.

David Macfarlane’s second novel The Figures of Beauty will be published in September 2013.

Charles Montgomery

Favourite summer read? If you have not experienced the maudlin pleasures of [Patrick deWitt’s] The Sisters Brothers, please put down whatever you are reading, brush your teeth, pour yourself a whiskey, kick your dog, and read this damn book. Through murder, mayhem, dust, and dental work in the old West, the book plays on the tragedy of sibling dysfunction.

This summer I'm reading Daniel Kahnenman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman is the world's foremost authority on why we all make so many bad decisions. I would think this is essential reading for Canadian politicians right now. 

Charles Montgomery’s Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design will be published in November 2013.

Chad Pelley

It might be a cliche to say the 2013 book I'm most excited about is Lisa Moore's Caught, given that she's just won CBC's Canada Reads and everyone is abuzz about Caught. But no other writer's work razzles and dazzles me more than Lisa's. She's the country's finest sentence-level writer: You don't just read her fiction, you experience it. I'm also really looking forward to Darren Greer's new novel, Just Beneath My Skin. I've been waiting almost a decade for a new novel from him.

But if it's something fun and electric and one-of-a-kind people are looking for in a summer read, I recommend one of my long-standing favourites: Jessica Grant's short story collection, Making Light of Tragedy.

Chad Pelley’s novel Every Little Thing was published in March 2013.

Elizabeth Ruth

A past title that I'd recommend to others for this summer: Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue.

What is on my summer reading list? In Calamity's Wake by Natalee Caple (I always love a book with a strong female protagonist who bucks tradition). Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (It's been on my bedside stand for too long, waiting for my full attention. Now is the time.). How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler's Memoir by Amber Dawn.

Elizabeth Ruth
’s novel Matadora was published in April 2013.

Shyam Selvadurai

I am looking forward to reading Elizabeth Hay's A Student of Weather this summer. I've been meaning to read it for a while.

A book that I recommend a lot to others as a summer read is Judy Fong Bates’ Midnight at the Dragon Cafe. It's the kind of book you can lose yourself in.


Shyam Selvadurai’s novel The Hungry Ghosts was published in April 2013.

Rebecca Silver Slayter

Recommendation: Gil Adamson’s stunning, suspenseful story of a woman on the run after murdering her husband is a book for any season, but its intelligence and craft combined with brilliant pacing make The Outlander one of the finest summer reads I’ve come across (its snowscape a welcome relief in the height of summer).

What is on my summer reading list? Lisa Moore’s latest, Caught, promises to be a summer pleasure of substance, a best-case compromise between art and entertainment by one of the best writers in the country. In her acclaimed debut story collection, The Best Place on Earth, Ayelet Tsabari writes about her native Israel, exploring the lives of people caught between borders, both figurative and real. I found Esi Edugyan’s much-lauded second novel, Half-Blood Blues, spellbinding, and am eager to catch up with the debut novel I missed. The Second Life of Samuel Tyne is the story of a Ghanaian immigrant in search of a second chance.

Rebecca Silver Slayter’s debut novel In the Land of Birdfishes was published in April 2013.

Mary Swan

Two very different books I'd like to be reading this summer are Charlotte Gray's The Massey Murders and Arnaldur Indridason's Strange Shores, but I'll have to wait until September for those.

I do plan to read Nocturne, by Helen Humphreys, and I've just finished Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, and know I'll be re-reading it soon. I'll also go back to Atkinson's first books – Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Human Croquet, and maybe even Emotionally Weird.

Mary Swan’s novel My Ghosts will be published in September 2013. 

Priscila Uppal

A couple of books I've read recently that I think would make for good summer reading: I just completed a book tour in Ireland and the U.K. and decided to fill my train and plane rides with Charles Dickens' Bleak House. This book is still so relevant, and so deeply moving; especially considering how litigious our world has become. For a cottage or beach read, let me recommend Will Ferguson's Happiness. A smart and very funny satire, it's a page turner and helps us laugh at our love affair with unhappiness. I recently recommended it to a friend on a beach vacation who devoured it.

I'm looking forward to reading filmmaker and poet Ann Shin's newest collection of poetry, The Family China, a book that examines our connections to family heirlooms and other inherited objects.

Priscila Uppal’s memoir Projection: Encounters with my Runaway Mother will be published in September 2013.

Dan Vyleta

The reading pile next to my bed never seems to get smaller, and quite often I find myself literally years behind publication dates in my reading. The thing about good books, though: they do not date. This summer I am looking forward to finally sinking my teeth into D.R. MacDonald's Lauchlin of the Bad Heart, which I read about in 2008 and immediately marked as a book I want to explore. From 2007 (and right next to Lauchlin in my pile) is Kevin Patterson's Consumption. As for a more recent vintage, I am excited about finally reading Miranda Hill's Sleeping Funny which I have been saving.

One book I read this past year that I'd recommend is Yu Hua's China in Ten Words. Deceptively simple in style, it is a joy to read and offers a fascinating analysis both of China today and of the years of the Cultural Revolution.

Dan Vyleta’s third novel The Crooked Maid will be published in August 2013.

Richard Van Camp

Douglas Copeland gave a reading last night here in Yellowknife at the NorthWords Writers Festival from his upcoming novel, Worst. Person. Ever. It was hilarious, disturbing and brilliant. I can't wait to read it.

One of my all-time favourite Canadian reads is Lorne Simon's Stones and Switches because it's a story of inheritance, bad medicine, and a man's ache for the woman he wants to marry.

Richard Van Camp’s story collection Godless but Loyal to Heave was published in February 2013.

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