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Thoughts on summer reading
My dad used to say some of his best summer experiences were reading by the light of a Coleman lantern outside on warm summer nights. I share his love of reading and the joy of reading outside. For me, the ultimate summer reading experience is reading on my verandah chaise-lounge at sunrise, with the birds singing their chorus to the words on the page.
Key to my reading is having lots of choice. My house is littered with stacks of books, mostly borrowed from the public library. I fill the gaps with serendipitous choices. I stop at every free little library I pass and usually find something to pique my interest. I pick up books others leave behind in hotels, campgrounds, on park benches. My bookcases offer up favourites I like to dip into over and over again. I'm always on the prowl for book suggestion so I take photos of covers in bookstores and book reviews from magazines I scan. And, there are a number of book websites I visit regularly to keep current with what's new in publishing. I most frequently visit:
- NYTimes Books : no fake news here, for decades the NYTimes has been the leader in book reviewing
- CBC Books : CBC does an excellent job of aggregating the discussions and reviews of books featured across all its radio shows.
- Library Reads and Loan Stars : The US and Canadian version of monthly lists curated by librarians. The lists reach beyond the bestsellers, books often overlooked by CBC and NYTimes
- LItHub : Features, reviews, lists, a serious reader 's dream
- NPR's Book Concierge: hands down the best and most comprehensive "best book" list. Beautiful and engaging interface, allows for creative browsing
Each book title listed below, includes a link out to these sources. I hope these sources enrich your summer reading experiences!
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by
This book was featured on both Library Reads and Loan Stars. Anything featuring bookish women is a must read for me. Noted as a quirky and charming read, this will be a great beach read, a good alternative to a romance.
I'm taking a road-trip to Northern BC at the beginning of July, and this hot-book of the season is coming along with me. Literary chick-lit, featuring a group of creative writing graduate students who call each other Bunny and share poetry at "smut salons". One reviewer described the book "enchanting and stunning".
Dark Constellations by
Last fall we spent two months in South America, and since then I've been on a quest to read books translated from Spanish and have discovered a treasure of books of to read. Dark Constellations is a serious read, connecting the 19th century to a dystopian near-future when botany, DNA, surveillance and censorship collide.
The Hunger by
I can barely watch horror movies and can only read scary books in the middle of the day. I read to be scared silly with this Bram-Stoker Award winning horror. The book intrigues me as it revolves around one of the most compelling stories of western expansion--the Donner Party in the California High Sierra. Hunger, cannibalism, supernatural--sounds like a perfect read for camping!
Mostly Dead Things by
Setting: taxidermy shop in Florida
Characters: dysfunctional family
Tone: dark humour
Author: a librarian
Sum of these parts: a perfect summer read!
No Fixed Address by
Housing and homelessness are important issue in Victoria and Vancouver. This book for young teens, is one families should read together. I was overcome with emotion reading this beautifully written book. Vancouver based Nielsen story cuts to the truth too many families face.
Normal People by
I loved Irish writer Sally Rooney's first novel Conversations with Friends. Her second book is one of the "it" books of the year--it was was longlisted for the Bookers and is on many recommended reading lists. I'll enjoy this in one sitting over the summer immersing myself into the student milieu of Dublin.
Orange World and Other Stories by
Karen Russell is one of my favourite short story writers. Russell's previous books Swamplandia and Vampires of the Lemon Grove were delightful and quirky, I'm sure Orange World will bring that same unforgettable delight.
I have long admired Cory Doctorow, the open advocate and digital rights pioneer. Cory is also a great writer of short stories and novellas on contemporary themes. This collection of four stories takes place in the near future when big-data and surveillance dominate lives. If you like Black Mirror on Netflix, you'll love Cory Doctorow.
The Travelers by
It's not summer without a family saga! I knew I had to read this one, when I saw that it had a two-page list of characters ( I love referring back to those lists, and even more so when they are done like a family tree). Spanning for the 1950s to the 21st century The Travelers explores American history through lives of two families -- one black the other white.
Clearing the Plains by
I've known about this book for some time. But after hearing Bruce Walsh (the book's publisher) speak and visiting Treaty 6 territory (Calgary), I decided it was time I committed to reading about the intentional starvation of Plains Indigenous peoples in the 19th century. This award-winning bestseller is noted as a book every Canadian must read.
Deep Creek : Finding Hope In The High Country by
Pam Houston writes that she aims : "to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief...to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive." After her first book was published in 1993, Pam Houston bought a ranch in remote, high country in Colorado. Her connection to the land defines her writing, and grounds her life. Dogs, sheep, chicken, forest fires, neighbours and friends enliven this creative memoir.
Digital Minimalism by
This book changed the way I view my mobile devices. After reading it I deleted 5 screens of apps from my phone and am inspired to reduce my screen time. Newport challenges us as educators to help students (and ourselves) develop digital literacy and responsibility. He includes realistic strategies to disconnect digitally and re-connect personally.
Hiking with Nietzsche : On Becoming Who You Are by
Last fall I completed a 4 day trek in Torres Del Paine Park in Chile. It was grueling but exhilarating. Hiking for 4 days provided time to reflect on what gives me despair, what brings me joy, a truly transformative experience. I can't wait to read (from the comfort of my chaise lounge) philosopher John Kang's timely book about hiking as a time to explore self.
Life in the Garden by
Penelope Lively is one of those writers who has been with me for decades. Her memoir is told through the gardens of her life, reflecting on gardening, art, life and literature. Lively muses, "To garden is to elide past, present, and future; it is a defiance of time."
Midnight Light : A Personal Journey To The North by
Dave Bidini--writer and musician (Rheostatics) is one of my perennial favourites. He has a talent for writing about our vast country. Rather than just traveling, he immerses himself in the communities he visits. For this recent book, he moved to Yellowknife for a year and worked for the local newspaper. The book examines northern communities and explores the value of a local, independent press.
A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by
I heard Candy Palmater rave about this book to Shelagh Rogers on the CBC. In her debut book Alicia Eliot writes about trauma, racism and indigenity and the ongoing legacy of colonism. The title is a translation from English for the Haudenosaunee expression for mental illness. Reviewers describe this work as bold and profound.
Packing My Library : An Elegy And Ten Digressions by
This summer library staff will be moving 5,000 books from Lansdowne to Interurban in preparation for the HHS move, so Packing my LIbrary is the perfect book for this summer. Alberto Manguel reflects on packing his 35,000 volume personal library, choosing what to keep and what to pass on to other readers. Manguel is a masterful essayist, I can't wait to delve into this volume of reflections on our personal relationships with books.
Save Me The Plums by
As restaurant critic for NY Times and then editor of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl established her reputation as one of the most important food writers of our time. Her writing is delicious, and as a bonus all of her books include recipes. Her latest book takes us through her years at the helm of Gourmet.
Say Nothing by
History, politics, true crime, family conflict, Say Nothing connects several stories from 1970s Northern Ireland. This book reads like a novel, I couldn't put this one down.