Twenty-one summer reading recommendations from booksellers

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Lounging on a Muskoka chair with a really, really good book is one of summer’s greatest joys. Here are 21 favourite summer reads from local booksellers.

 

Katya Nosko, proprietor of The Great Escape Bookstore
A Good War by Seth Klein

“Seth Klein is a social justice policy consultant and columnist for the National Observer. His book is an excellent manual for tackling the climate crisis politically and economically. He recommends using social and racial justice, mobilizing the public and private sectors, and looking to Indigenous communities and elders for their wisdom and guidance.”

 

Indigenous Toronto, edited by Denise Bolduc, Mnawaate Gordon-Corbiere, Rebeka Tabobondung and Brian Wright-McLeod

“Toronto has a rich, 12,000-year Indigenous history that carries on through today. In this anthology, political scientist Hayden King, playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, musician Elaine Bomberry and many more share the forgotten histories from the cultural hub before the arrival of European settlers.”

 


Julie Malian, owner of Bellwoods Books
The Shame by Makenna Goodman

“This book is funny, dark, existential and incredibly smart. It follows a woman struggling to manage social isolation while grappling with her identity as an artist and the expectations of motherhood in a capitalist society.”

 

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

“I really connected with Rachel Cusk’s highly acclaimed Outline trilogy, and I’ve been anticipating her new novel, which is a gripping story about a woman who invites a famous artist to stay at her guest house. I’ve only just begun and already feel at home with Cusk’s clean, analytical style.”

 


Rupert McNally, bookseller at Ben McNally Books
Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

“Rivka Galchen’s newest historical novel tells the real-life story of Katharina Kepler, who faced charges of witchery in the 17th century. In Galchen’s imagining, Kepler is a bit of a kook and a bit of a crank, but a character brimming with charm, even if she tends to worry more about the well-being of her cow over that of her neighbours.”

 

The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King

“There are few if any better ways of spending summer days than engrossed in the streets of Florence during the height of the Italian Renaissance. Here, Ross King follows a solitary (though well-connected) bookseller, Vespasiano da Bisticci, to examine how knowledge spread and how it influenced the culture and politics of the time.”

 

Satellite Love by Genki Ferguson

“This debut unconventional novel from indie bookseller Genki Ferguson is one of the most tender books I’ve read recently. It follows a 16-year-old who struggles to find common ground with her peers and classmates, and so she builds a connection to a satellite she sees through her telescope, who then visits earth to meet her.”

 


Chris Galloway, manager at Book City
Norman Jewison by Ira Wells

“Filmmaker Norman Jewison is a Canadian legend. This biography makes a good choice for anyone who loves behind-the-scenes Hollywood or compulsively watches TCM.”

 

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

“When the pandemic hit, I stopped reading apocalyptic fiction. Now, I’m starting to drift back because it feels cathartic. Leduc’s book came out earlier this year, and it’s a powerful work, full of magic and humanity, that follows a mother trying to save her family.”

 

Sufferance by Thomas King

“This novel is satirical with a dark edge, following a man who uses his gifts at prognosticating to make the rich richer. One day, he tries to escape what he’s done and hides out in an old residential school—but his past catches up to him. Given the reckoning that is beginning to take place with residential schools in our country, this book could not be more timely. ”

 


Kyle Buckley, manager at Type Books
The Divorce by César Aira

“At Type Books, we have a category called Plotless Fiction, and Argentinian writer César Aira is one of its most beloved figures. This story is about a newly divorced father who wonders if everything is meaningless, or far too meaningful all the time. Patti Smith is an admirer of Aira, and she writes a really terrific introduction to the book.”

 

Disintegration In Four Parts by Jean Marc Ah-Sen, Emily Anglin, Devon Code and Lee Henderson

“In this book, four writers consider the idea of purity in wildly different ways: feuding literary movements, deathbed thoughts of an elderly women, an architect searching for her twin sister and sourcing art at a Nazi internment camp in Norway.”

 


Debby de Groot, publicist at House of Anansi
A Boring Wife Settles the Score by Marie-Renee Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson

“This sequel to the bestselling Autopsy of a Boring Wife finds the saucy and ever-appealing Diane now turning 50. The wreckage of her marriage is behind her, and she’s setting off on a hilarious new quest for romance. A perfect summer read.”

 

This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin

“Ed O’Loughlin’s exhilarating thriller is a fast, thought-provoking modern spy novel. Hunted by government agents and corporate goons, the protagonists find themselves in an intercontinental chase culminating in a final showdown in Ireland.”

 

We Want What We Want by Alix Ohlin

We Want What We Want is a masterful collection of 13 glittering and darkly funny stories of people testing boundaries. It’s the book everyone I know is talking about.”

 


Peter Birkemoe, owner, The Beguiling Books & Art
Fictional Father by Joe Ollmann

“This graphic novel from Canada’s master of humorous discomfort follows a newspaper cartoonist’s son who’s resentful of the happy father-son relationship portrayed in his dad’s comic work. When his father dies, he becomes determined to take over the column.”

 

Red Rock Baby Candy by Shira Spector

“Shira Spector’s debut graphic book employs inventive page layouts and visual techniques to simultaneously tell her coming-of-age story as a young lesbian, her difficult road to pregnancy and her grief after losing her father.”

 

The Good Fight by Ted Staunton & Josh Rosen

“For those wanting a little true local history in their middle-grade reading, this fast-paced story is set amid Toronto’s turbulent summer of 1933 and the Christie Pits riot.”

 


Liz Burns and Alex Snider, owners of Queen Books
Nishga by Jordan Abel

“Jordan Abel knits together his family history with the legacy of intergenerational violence wrought by residential schools and centuries of colonization. The result is a necessary and devastating read on identity.”

 

Care Of  by Ivan Coyote

“Ivan Coyote creates an indefinable work while responding to various letters and notes they received over the past decades in the public eye as a writer and performer. It’s at times painful, engrossing and deeply pleasurable.”

 

All’s Well by Mona Awad

“This subversive new novel is about a theatre professor and a mutinous stage production of Macbeth. Awad’s story is at once incredibly fun and clear-eyed, while also critiquing society’s unwillingness to acknowledge women’s pain.”