As we settle into the August long weekend, we’re taking the opportunity to hear what local authors are reading and recommending. From memoir to short stories to debut novels, here are eight great reads to pick up this weekend.
Angie Abdou recommends Fallen by Kara Stanley:
“A heart-breaking and heart-mending memoir, Kara Stanley’s Fallen (Greystone) offers a portrait of life in crisis. Fallen tells the story of Stanley’s husband’s traumatic and transformative accident. Readers take the harrowing journey of recovery with Kara and Simon, soaking up expert knowledge about neuroscience and the miraculous effects of music along the way.
An inspiring story of resilience, Fallen celebrates the power of music and love and commitment. This memoir’s wisdom and compassion earn it a spot right next to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. I cried my eyes out, sad tears and happy ones. I love Fallen.”
Angie Abdou is the author of five books, including The Canterbury Trail (Brindle & Glass), Between (Arsenal Pulp) and her latest novel, In Case I Go, is being published this fall by Arsenal Pulp Press.
Robert J. Wiersema recommends The Summer Book, edited by Mona Fertig:
“The Summer Book, edited and published by Mona Fertig and her Salt Spring Island-based Mother Tongue Publishing, collects 24 new short pieces from some of BC’s finest writers, including the likes of Pearl Luke, Trevor Carolan, DC Reid, JJ Lee, Anne Cameron and Christine Lowther. Threaded with evocative illustrations, The Summer Book bridges the natural and human worlds to capture and elicit the briefest of shining seasons, with a throughline of what Eve Joseph, in her essay “The Summer Within”, refers to as saudade, the Portuguese word for ‘the love that remains when something is gone.’
Among the many highlights are the book-ending pieces, the opening “Love Song” by Theresa Kishkan and Brian Brett’s closing “Where Are the Snows of Yesterday’s Summers”: each captures the joy of the season over a lifetime, or lifetimes, the mingled melancholy of loss and remembrance. The Summer Book is a powerful collection, and a heartening overview of some of the best literary writing our province has to offer.”
Robert J. Wiersema is a reviewer who contributes regularly to several national newspapers, a former independent bookseller, and a bestselling author. His book on Bruce Springsteen, Walk Like A Man (Greystone Books), was published in 2011.
Kathryn E. Shoemaker recommends The Book of Small by Emily Carr:
“I’m reading Emily Carr’s beautiful book, The Book of Small which she wrote in 1942 about her childhood in Victoria in the 1800s. Most of the book is told from her 4-5 year-old perspective and in that voice. The edition I’m reading is from Oxford University Press.
This is enchanting and will be a perfect book to read before I read Kit Pearson’s recent book on Emily Carr, A Day of Signs and Wonders.”
Kathryn E. Shoemaker is the illustrator of over thirty-six books for children, including Seeking Refuge (Tradewind Books, 2016) with Irene N. Watts.
Jack Christie recommends Crocodiles and Ice by Jon Turk:
“Fernie-based author Jon Turk’s Crocodiles and Ice: A Journey into Deep Wild (Oolichan Press) published earlier this year is his fourth in a series of extraordinary adventure accounts, this time centred in the Canadian Arctic where he and a companion undertake a 100-day circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island by kayak.
Far more than a simple retelling of the outing, Turk weaves a timely anthropogenic perspective into the mix.”
Jack Christie, dubbed “Mr. B.C.” by the Toronto Sun, is one of the most trusted sources on outdoor recreation and travel. The fourth edition of 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver (Greystone Books) was released in 2015.
Ahmad Danny Ramadan recommends An Extraordinary Destiny by Shekhar Paleja:
“An Extraordinary Destiny (Brindle & Glass), the debut novel by Shekhar Paleja establishes him as an author to look up to. His writing is authentic, his voice is strong and complex, and his characters are living beings worthy of following. I enjoyed the glimpses into modern India and the depth of understanding of the characters he brought. I also enjoyed the humour in the book, and found it entertaining and sweet.
The book has a universe of its own, structured across India and the rest of the world, but the way the stories and the characters push each other and affect one another made the book much easier to follow and read. I appreciated the flashbacks and the historical lessons.
This book is a well-researched, entertaining and an eye-opening narration of a coming of age story that can help you relate to a culture you’d otherwise never experience.”
Ahmad Danny Ramadan is an experienced journalist and vocal advocate for democracy, social justice and LGBTQ refugees’ rights. His first novel written in English, The Clothesline Swing, was published by Nightwood Editions in 2017.
Monique Gray Smith recommends The Moccasins by Earl Einarson:
“The Moccasins by Earl Einarson and illustrated by Julie Flett (Theytus Books) is a beautiful story is about an Indigenous foster child who is given a special gift from his foster mom, a pair of moccasins. This book first came out in 2004, but the messages are true for us today. The story reminds us of our common humanity, the importance of love, of culture and of cultural connection. This is one of my all time favourite books!”
Monique Gray Smith’s first novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience (Sono Nis), won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Her children’s book, My Heart Fills with Happiness (Orca Book Publishers), illustrated by Julie Flett, won the 2017 Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize.
Adèle Barclay recommends Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson:
“Several years ago I heard Zoey Leigh Peterson read what would become the first chapter of Next Year For Sure (Doubleday). I was instantly absorbed into her prose that wryly, lovingly registers the minute barometric fluctuations of intimacy. This novel burrows into the textures of relationships—sexual, romantic, platonic—in such familiar yet refreshing ways. I loved the tender, dignified, and messy treatment of the characters and their desires. Ostensibly, it’s about a couple who open up their relationship, but really Next Year For Sure is about the dynamic nature of love as feeling and act.”
Adèle Barclay’s debut poetry collection, If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You (Nightwood Editions, 2016) was the winner of the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the 2015 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.
Nathaniel G. Moore recommends Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez:
“Having come of age in downtown and uptown Toronto in the 1990s, (chronicled in my own novel that starts with an S) I also happened to spend some unforgettable moments in Scarborough, which was no small feat back then as it took nearly two hours to travel there from the comedic discomfort of my home at Laird and Eglinton!
Catherine Hernandez’s debut novel Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press) sizzles with the authentic urban grit of this unique and concrete slab/haven, with its strip-malls and devoted TTC commuters, its teeming schoolyards and classrooms, its beautiful parks and winding suburban roads, the bluffs, Scarborough is home to generations of tender family values, sadly forgotten by Torontonians. As Hernandez herself says in an interview with her publisher about the folks in her hometown, “Our east-end pride manifests in our vibrant immigrant culture, a strong tradition of community gatherings to share art, and an authentic working-class way of life.” It begs the question, why has it taken so long for a book like this to come out? I for one am glad it did, and as a recent B.C. transplant from Toronto, this bit of civic familiarity warms my aging heart.
Also noteworthy: even before it was published, the novel received the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Emerging Writers’ Award and was shortlisted for the Half the World Global Literati Award. Highly recommended.”
Nathaniel G. Moore is a Canadian writer, artist and book publicist. He has a book of short fiction, Jettison (Anvil, 2016), and a novel, Savage 1986-2011 (Anvil, 2013), which won the ReLit Award 2014 for best novel.
Have you read any of these—what did you think? Tell us what you’re reading in the comments!