It's summertime and the reading can feel as easy as the livin' when you've got books as good as the ones in Open Book's Summer Reading Guide! Check out our list below to find the best of the season.
Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs that Tell Their Story by Mark Dillion
Wouldn't it be nice to have a great summer read? One of this spring's runaway hits, Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs that Tell Their Story (ECW Press) by Mark Dillion features exclusive interviews with not only the band members, but famous fans and respected music critics. From Alice Cooper to Zooey Deschanel, Fifty Sides's commentary shows the breadth of the great band's legacy, with Dillion's keen journalistic eye tying everything.
Walking into the Ocean by David Whellams
David Whellams's Walking into the Ocean (ECW Press) is a chilling, irresistible debut mystery. Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Peter Cammon emerges from semi-retirement to pursue a serial killer, a quest which takes him from London to the island of Malta and beyond. This first instalment in a planned series of three featuring the British detective will have readers racing to reach the shocking climax of the story.
The Mastersinger from Minsk by Morley Torgov
Music fans take note! The Mastersinger from Minsk (Dundurn) by Morley Torgov is an Inspector Hermann Preiss Mystery set in Munich in 1868 which follows intrigue and mystery surrounding Wagner's first staging of Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg. Between a jilted mistress and threats on the composer's life, Torgov's detective finds himself very busy indeed in this latest addition to the author's popular series, which was launched in 2008 with Murder in A-Major.
The Greatest Lake: Stories from Lake Superior by Conor Mihell
What could be better for summer reading than a book about that great Canadian summer staple: one of Ontario's fresh, cool lakes? Conor Mihell's The Greatest Lake: Stories from Lake Superior’s North Shore (Dundurn) combines anecdote, history, politics and science for a fully-realised portrait of the largest great lake and its place in the Canadian identity. Mihell shares stories of the people drawn to the lake, for a wide variety of reasons, making for a book that is not only informative but personal and entertaining.
Oranges and Lemons by Liz Bugg
Intrepid lesbian PI Calli Barnow is back in Liz Bugg's Oranges and Lemons (Insomniac Press), the second in her Toronto-based mystery series. Under cover at one of the city's top ad agencies, the detective knows there's more to a hot young copywriter's allegedly drug-related death than anyone is willing to admit. Readers will root for Calli as she uncovers the dark hidden truths of Bay Street.
Bad Mommy by Willow Yamauchi
No matter how old you get, you're still your mother's child. Why is "mom" such a loaded role in our society? In Bad Mommy (Insomniac Press), Willow Yamauchi examines the strange, conflicting and sometimes downright hilarious expectations and pressures exerted on mothers. A humane book that embraces both the inevitability of making mistakes and the love that binds us together, Bad Mommy is a must not only for parents but for anyone who ever remembered it's been too long since a phone call to mom.
Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger
Just because the summer is hot doesn't mean it can't get any hotter — in fact, it's guaranteed to once you pick up Maidenhead (Coach House Books) by Toronto-based agent provocateur Tamara Faith Berger. The book is the sexual coming of age story of Myra, who becomes entangled with the mysterious couple Elijah and Gayl, descending with them into an erotic education that will have readers needing to crank up the A/C.
Mad Hope by Heather Birrell
Journey Prize winner Heather Birrell's Mad Hope (Coach House Books) is a collection of short fiction that peels away the surface and delves into the core of its strange, funny and maddening characters. Carefully crafted, these irresistible stories have drawn comparisons to short fiction greats like Alice Munro, Lisa Moore and Zsuzsi Gartner. This book is a must for any love of short stories.
Don’t Laugh at Giraffe by Rebecca Bender
Lovable characters Bird and Giraffe are back in Don’t Laugh at Giraffe (Pajama Press) written by Rebecca Bender. The odd pair make jokes, squabble and get on each other’s nerves, all in good fun. But what happens when all the animals at the pond, including Bird, are laughing at Giraffe’s attempt to reach the water without getting his hooves wet? It’s up to Bird to show his friend he’s sorry and make things right. Find out how he gets Giraffe back.
Signs and Wonders by Alix Ohlin
The stories in Signs and Wonders (House of Anansi) explore, with rare wit and humour, some of the deepest regions of human desperation. Alix Ohlin’s characters ring true, with rare authenticity and psychological depth. The stories, ranging from a tale about a happy couple derailed by an old friend to a story about a woman obsessed with having a child, complement and strengthen each other.
Inside by Alix Ohlin
The story of troubled therapist Grace (whose patients seem to be the most sane and uncomplicated thing about her life) Alix Ohlin’s Inside (House of Anansi) spans a wide breadth — in terms of both geography and human experience. From the compelling but suicidal man Grace finds in the forest, to the ex-husband about to throw away his love to live in a native community (not to mention the trips from Montreal to New York, from Hollywood to Rwanda), Inside provides a total experience — one that you will not want to end.
Birthday Suit by Olive Senior
No matter what Johnny's parents do, they cannot get their little four-year-old to keep his clothes on. In Birthday Suit (Annick Press), a wonderfully illustrated picture book by Olive Senior, we follow Johnny’s parents as they romp across a beach of mangoes and crabs after their mischievous son. And if the story isn’t enough to keep the kids busy, then the incredibly detailed paintings which illustrate the book will — each one full of little details that will keep readers looking for hours.
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
“Always play alone, never talk about the game and never tell anyone your nickname” — these are the rules to Erebos, the mysterious computer game which has sucked in Nick, and which gives Ursula Poznanski’s new novel its name. Erebos (Annick Press) follows Nick as he is rapidly pulled into the game, but then just as quickly kicked out again when the other players try to push him too far. Nick’s search to discover the mystery of Erebos leads not only to new discoveries, but also to an exciting thriller that will leave you just as enthralled.
I See my Love more Clearly from a Distance by Nora Gould
I See my Love more Clearly from a Distance (Brick Books), Nora Gould’s debut collection, is steeped in the language and culture of the prairie life it so lovingly describes. The people, the speech and even the soil seep into the words of these poems, which ring with the subtle mastery of a far more experienced author. This book is not merely about farm life — it has been sculpted, by skilled and loving hands, of the raw Albertan soil.
Between Dusk and Night by Emily McGiffin
Though this is Emily McGiffin’s first collection of poetry, Between Dusk and Night (Brick Books) is strikingly assured and accomplished, a collection that has been praised as "a fresh way of looking at what’s not always regarded". These verses bear the mark of a mature, experienced writer, in full control of her language and her craft. Taking us from Europe to Africa, Between Dusk and Night reminds us that we too are animals, as vulnerable to “the wolfish light” as any other creature.
Under the Moon by Deborah Kerbel
In the twenty-six days of a lunar month, the characters of Deborah Kerbel’s novel Under the Moon (Dancing Cat Books) undergo a painful but uplifting experience. Unable to sleep after the death of her aunt, Lily MacArthur sinks into a deep and self-destructive depression, burdened by her loss and her exhaustion. Deteriorating quickly, she is saved by Ben, a newcomer to her town. But she does not yet know that Ben has his own secrets, which will put them both in jeopardy.
The Goodtime Girl by Tess Fragoulis
Kivelli, the protagonist of Tess Fragoulis’s The Goodtime Girl (Cormorant Books), is having a bad time. The Great Fire of Smyrna has killed her entire family, has destroyed all of her wealth and left her lost among the gangsters and prostitutes in the Greek city of Piraeus. Despite working up the ladder from table-dancer to music star, Kivelli’s fame brings her no happiness. Because no matter how much better her life becomes, the loss of Smyrna will always drag her down and weigh heavy on her heart.
Rachel’s Secret by Shelley Sanders
Do you have something to hide? Rachel does. All is revealed to you in Rachel’s Secret by Shelley Sanders (Second Story Press). Rachel is a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl living in Kishinev, Russia. Her dreams of being a writer are interrupted when she witnesses the murder of a young Christian man and is forced to keep the murderer’s identity a secret. Hope blooms when a young Christian named Sergei turns against his father and the police to save Rachel. Together, the two-fight against chaos and violence.
Support the Girls: Bra Art for Breast Health by the West Parry Sound Health Centre Foundation
Intent on saving lives through early detection, the West Parry Sound Health Centre Foundation decided to something different to spread information about breast health and saves lives, in addition to raising money to buy a mammogram machine for their local hospital. In Support the Girls: Bra Art for Breast Health (Second Story Press), they created the fun and memorable “Art Bra” project, which showcases over fifty bras, accompanied by personal stories. There are even signed sports bras by hockey greats Bobby Orr and Sidney Crosby. This book is sure to have you laughing your bra off.
Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week by Caroline Adderson
Everyone wants to be a star, but sometimes things don’t turned out as planned. In Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week (Kids Can Press) by Caroline Adderson. Join the adventurous and hilarious Jasper when his spotlight is stolen by a new baby at his friend’s house. Thinking that maybe his own family is too small, Jasper builds a wooden baby brother, Earl, to make his family bigger, a choice which brings some unexpected complications.
Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors by Jane Drake and Ann Love
School’s out for summer! Before you hear the dreaded "I'm bored!", be sure to get your hands on Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors (Kids Can Press) by Jane Drake and Ann Love. The book is handily divided into seasons and categories: nature lover, outdoor fun and games, snug inside and look to the sky. From building birdhouses to planting a garden, this kid-centric guide offers great activities for days of play together.
Gay Dwarves of America by Anne Fleming
Anne Fleming isn't just great at coming up with titles, though Gay Dwarves of America (Pedlar Press), certainly proves that. The collection tells the story of a mother of a teen with dwarfism who questions if he’s gay. Other stories introduce a parasitologist resistant to labels who longs for the love of a woman and a hockey mom who pretends she’s Swiss, determinedly ringing a cowbell in the stands. Discover this cast of unforgettable characters as they test their own boundaries and those of their lovers, friends and children.
Giant by Aga Maksimowska
When you’re the wrong size and speak the wrong language, how do you fit in to a new country — and a new crowd of teens? In Giant (Pedlar Press), Aga Maksimowska tells the story of a young girl coming of age in a multi-cultural society, trying to figure out her identity — Polish, Canadian or something in between. She navigates the tumults of puberty and the absence of her parents, while her homeland in Poland undergoes drastic transformation along with her. This novel sings of perseverance, loyalty and hope.
Kyass by Adam Ballantyne, Transcribed and edited by Prentice G. Downes, Woodcuts by Annie Downes Catterson
A member of the Pelican Narrows Band, Adam Ballantyne shared his traditional tales with the spirit of a true storyteller. In Kyass: Cree Legends of Pelican Narrows (Penumbra Press) Anne Downes Catterson draws from her father’s unpublished collections of Cree lore, as told to him by Ballantyne. The volume not only pays tribute to Adam and many other friends in Sleeping Island, but manages to preserve the vibrancy of the oral tradition. Catterson’s otherworldly woodcut illustrations complement these tales that seem at once both strange and hauntingly familiar.
Remembering Glenn Gould by Colin Eatock
Canadians and music lovers around the world knew Glenn Gould as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century — a man who learned to read music before he learned to read text. Both fans and new initiates can learn more about him in Remembering Glenn Gould: Twenty Interviews With People Who Knew Him (Penumbra Press) by Colin Eatock. In Q&A interviews, Colin brings to life memories of Gould from his close friends and those he worked with including musicians, broadcasters, professional associates and writers.
Emily for Real by Sylvia Gunnery
After being dumped by her boyfriend, 17 year-old Emily Sinclair, the protagonist of Emily For Real (Pajama Press) by Sylvia Gunnery, feels like she's going to be lonely forever — until she befriends a new and troubled student named Leo. Emily and Leo’s families are far from nuclear but easily recognizable to modern teens, encompassing divorce, alcoholism, gay, straight, step, adoptive and illegitimate. A coming of age story for the new millennium, Emily for Real goes beyond teen romance to explore the intricacies of friendship, family, reputations and growing up.