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What To Read: May/June 2017

by Tyler Vitt - Wednesday, May 03, 2017 at 9:07pm

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall. Look for our in-store What To Read display tables.

Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi
$21.00. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

In Gyasi's novel, two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Africa. Effia marries an English colonist and lives in comfort in the Cape Coast  Castle. Her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath Effia in the women's dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. The horrors of their experiences echo through generations, as each descendant seeks freedom and healing. (Anchor. May)

By Gaslight
by Steven Price
$24.00. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

An old fashioned Victorian mystery set in the London of 1885. In this city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a shadow. William Pinkerton, the son of a detective who died without ever tracing Shade, is determined to drag the thief into the daylight. What follows is a hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and séance halls while an unlikely bond is formed between Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Shade. (McClelland & Stewart. May)

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What To Read: Spring 2017

by Tyler Vitt - Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 at 11:45am

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall. Look for our in-store What To Read display tables.

Listen, Liberal
by Thomas Frank
$25.00. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

Originally published before the 2016 American election, Listen, Liberal describes what ailed the Democratic Party even before their weaknesses became obvious. It is the story of how the "Party of the People" detached itself from its historic constituency among average Americans and chose instead to line up with the winners of the new economic order. Now with a new afterword, Frank's analysis offers a powerful diagnosis of the liberal malady and is essential reading for anyone who still values liberal ideals. (Picador. March)

The Memoirs of a Polar Bear
by Yoko Tawada.
Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
$22.95. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

Three generations of polar bears are famous as both circus performers and writers in East Germany: they are bears who move as humans, doing human things and thinking human thoughts. The grandmother, in the Soviet Union, accidentally writes a bestselling autobiography; Tosca, her daughter (born in Canada, where her mother had emigrated) takes a job in the circus. Her son, Knut, is born in a Leipzig zoo but raised by a human keeper. Happy or sad, each bear writes a story in this delightfully strange novel. (New Directions. November)

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What To Read: Winter 2017

by Tyler Vitt - Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 at 3:24pm

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall. Look for our in-store What To Read display tables.

The Mare 
by Mary Gaitskill 
$22.95. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

Velveteen Vargas is eleven years old, a Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn, hosted by a liberal couple in upstate New York. Gaitskill gradually reveals Velvet’s shifting relationship with Ginger and Paul over several years, as well as her encounter with the horses at the stable down the road — especially with an abused, unruly mare called Fugly Girl. In Gaitskill's hands, the timeless story of a girl and a horse is joined with a timely story of people from different races and classes trying to meet one another honestly. (Vintage. October)

Stranger Than We Can Imagine 
by John Higgs 
$22.00. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

How can we truly understand the twentieth century if we don’t understand the ideas that drove its innovations and discoveries? The trouble is these ideas include quantum entanglement, cubism, relativity, psychedelics, postmodernism, chaos theory, and the Somme. What hope do we have? Enter John Higgs who explores, with clarity and wit, the extremes of twentieth century thought, and in doing so shows how a world of empires became a world of individuals. (McClelland & Stewart. November)

The Little Red Chairs 
by Edna O'brien 
$20.99. Trade paperback. Add to Cart

One winter night, a charismatic stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and turns to him to cure her deepest pains. Then, one morning, Dr. Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a notorious war criminal. The community is devastated, particularly Fidelma. In disgrace and alone, she struggles through profound hardship before finding the prospect of redemption. This is an unflinching exploration of humanity's capacity for evil and artifice as well as the bravest kind of love. (Little, Brown. December)

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What To Read: Fall 2016

by Tyler Vitt - Friday, Nov 04, 2016 at 4:15pm

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall.

Human Acts by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith. Softcover. $25.95. We sometimes forget that not too long ago South Korea was under a repressive dictatorship. Kang, who won the Booker International Prize last year for The Vegetarian, hails from Gwangju, which, in the 1980s, became a centre for the painful uprisings that eventually led to democracy. In a sequence of interconnected chapters the victims and the bereaved encounter censorship, denial, forgiveness and the echoing agony of the original trauma. Kang has written a moving novel that reminds us that collective pain takes generations to overcome. (PGC. September)

In Another Country by David Constantine. Softcover. $19.95. Known for their emotional clarity and their fearless exposures of the heart in moments of defiance, change, resistance, flight, isolation, and redemption, these are the best of Constantine's thirty years’ of short stories. Included is the title story, made into the movie 45 Years with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. Common to all the stories is a quiet wisdom, often with a pause the characters take from the hectic modern world, that allows a reader to reflect on the unconsidered aspects of our own lives. (Biblioasis. October)

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. Softcover. $23.00. It is the 1990s in Istanbul, and although there were once thousands of boza vendors walking the frozen streets of the city, Mevlut now cuts a lonely figure on snowy winter nights. The dangers of Istanbul's underbelly eventually catch up with Mevlut, and he is beaten and threatened at every turn. Pamuk is one of my favourites, writing from the dividing line between East and West, Christian and Muslim, Religious and Secular. He offers no easy answers but an attentive reader will be left with the sense of how complex the world can be. (Vintage. September)

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What To Read: Summer 2016

by Tyler Vitt - Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 2:09pm

With the passing of the literary torch to a new generation, Chris Hall, a passionate reader with almost 20 years of bookselling experience, has taken up the challenge of continuing Holly McNally’s stewardship of our What to Read suggestions with personal recommendations that reflect attention to the care and craft of good writing.

 Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont. Softcover. $22.00. The Shanleys are a prosperous family living in New York. Father Jack is a successful artist, Deb is happy raising fifteen year-old Simon and eleven year-old Kay. But Jack has done something terrible and selfish and Deb has to face the weaknesses of the man she married, while Simon and Kay are forced to deal with a grown-up world they are not quite prepared for. The power of this novel lies in the portrayal of the characters, all of them very real, with their own particular strengths and weaknesses. (Random House. June)

 The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. Hardcover. $34.00. With its exuberance and humour, this is a perfect novel for the summer. It tells the story of Veblen (named after the economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”) and her fiancé, Paul, as they deal with a hypochondriac mother, institutionalized father, and a high stakes deal with the Department of Defence for his medical research findings. McKenzie produces a bold and chaotic satire of our times, as the pair try to keep the peace and repair the damage involved in their upcoming wedding. (Penguin. January)

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