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What To Read

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall.

This is a selection of our current What To Read titles. To find other titles or authors, or just to browse, please use the search box.

The Age of Genius

- Trade paperback

by A. C. Grayling - $27.00 - Add to Cart

Bestselling author A. C. Grayling explains how - fueled by original and unorthodox thinking, war, and technological invention - the seventeenth century became the crucible of modernity. What happened to the European mind between 1605, when an audience watching Macbeth at the Globe might believe that regicide was such an aberration of the natural order that ghosts could burst from the ground, and 1649, when a large crowd, perhaps including some who had seen Macbeth forty-four years earlier, could stand and watch the execution of a king? Or consider the difference between a magus casting a star chart and the day in 1639 when Jonathan Horrock and William Crabtree watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun from their attic, successfully testing its course against Kepler's Tables of Planetary Motion, in a classic case of confirming a scientific theory by empirical testing. In this turbulent period, science moved from the alchemy and astrology of John Dee to the painstaking observation and astronomy of Galileo, from the classicism of Aristotle, still favored by the Church, to the evidence-based, collegiate investigation of Francis Bacon. And if the old ways still lingered and affected the new mindset - Descartes's dualism an attempt to square the new philosophy with religious belief; Newton, the man who understood gravity and the laws of motion, still fascinatedto the end of his life by alchemy - by the end of that tumultuous century the greatest ever change in the mental outlook of humanity" had irrevocably taken place. "

By Gaslight

- Trade paperback

by Steven Price - $25.00 - Add to Cart

Longlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller PrizeNo. 1 National BestsellerGlobe and Mail's "20 Books to Read in 2016," Maclean's bestseller, Toronto Star bestseller, Ottawa Citizen's "Best on the Shelf," Huffington Post's "Best Fall 2016 Books," Publishers Weekly "Books of the Week," National Post bestseller, Vanity Fair 2016 "Must Read Books of the Fall""A dark tale of love, betrayal and murder that reaches from the slums of Victorian London to the diamond mines in South Africa, to the American Civil War and back. Superb storytelling." --Kurt Palka, author of The Piano MakerA magnificent literary historical-suspense novel in the tradition of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, and Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, By Gaslight is destined to be one of the most acclaimed and talked-about books of the year.London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men's futures -- a man of smoke. William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London in search of her; what he learns of her fate, and its connection to the man known as Shade, will force him to confront a grief he thought long-buried. What follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and seance halls. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.     Epic in scope, brilliantly conceived, and stunningly written, Steven Price's By Gaslight is a riveting, atmospheric portrait of two men on the brink. Moving from the diamond mines of South Africa to the battlefields of the Civil War, the novel is a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our darker selves.From the Hardcover edition.

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

- Trade paperback

by Herta Muller - $22.99 - Add to Cart

VIVIDLY POETIC . . . MULLER HAS EXERCISED HER VOICE WITH A FURY THAT VIBRATES OFF THE PAGE." - THE BOSTON GLOBE Romania - the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara's lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the others. One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox-fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another occasion, it's the hind leg. Then a foreleg. The mutilated fur is a taunting sign that she is being watched by the secret police - the fox was ever the hunter. Images of photographic precision combine into a kaleidoscope of terror as Adina and her friends struggle to keep mind and body intact in a world pervaded by complicity and permeated by fear, where it's hard to tell victim from perpetrator. Once again, Herta Muller uses language that displays "the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose" - as the Swedish academy noted upon awarding her the Nobel Prize - to create a hauntingly cinematic portrayal of the corruption of the soul under totalitarianism. "

The Gene

- Trade paperback

by Siddhartha Mukherjee - $27.00 - Add to Cart

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A New York Times Notable Book A Washington Post and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies--a fascinating history of the gene and "a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick" (Elle)."Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost" (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices. "Mukherjee expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories...[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry" (The Washington Post). Throughout, the story of Mukherjee's own family--with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness--reminds us of the questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In riveting and dramatic prose, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation--from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome. "A fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are--and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), The Gene is the revelatory and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master. "The Gene is a book we all should read" (USA TODAY).

The Girls

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by Emma Cline - $23.00 - Add to Cart

THE INSTANT BESTSELLER o An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post o NPR o The Guardian o Entertainment Weekly o San Francisco Chronicle o Financial Times o Esquire o Newsweek o Vogue o Glamour o People o The Huffington Post o Elle o Harper's Bazaar o Time Out o BookPage o Publishers Weekly o Slate Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged--a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize o Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award o Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize o The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice o Emma Cline--One of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists Praise for The Girls "Emma Cline has an unparalleled eye for the intricacies of girlhood, turning the stuff of myth into something altogether more intimate."--Lena Dunham "Spellbinding . . . a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story."--The New York Times Book Review "Extraordinary . . . Debut novels like this are rare, indeed."--The Washington Post "Hypnotic."--The Wall Street Journal "Gorgeous."--Los Angeles Times "Savage."--The Guardian "Astonishing."--The Boston Globe "Superbly written."--James Wood, The New Yorker "Intensely consuming."--Richard Ford "A spectacular achievement."--Lucy Atkins, The Times "Thrilling."--Jennifer Egan "Compelling and startling."--The Economist "Elegant and nostalgic."--Julie Beck, The Atlantic "Masterful . . . In the cult dynamic, Cline has seen something universal--emotions, appetites, and regular human needs warped way out of proportion--and in her novel she's converted a quintessentially '60s story into something timeless."--Christian Lorentzen, New York

Homegoing

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by Yaa Gyasi - $21.00 - Add to Cart

"Homegoing is an inspiration." --Ta-Nehisi Coates An unforgettable New York Times bestseller of exceptional scope and sweeping vision that traces the descendants of two sisters across three hundred years in Ghana and America.A riveting kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day.     Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising "half-caste" children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.     Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the intricacies of the troubled yet hopeful human spirit.From the Hardcover edition.

LaRose

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by Louise Erdrich - $19.99 - Add to Cart

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in FictionFinalist for the 2017 PEN Faulkner AwardIn this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence--but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he's hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor's five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux's five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux's wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty's mother, Nola. Horrified at what he's done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition--the sweat lodge--for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. "Our son will be your son now," they tell them.LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new "sister," Maggie, welcomes him as a coconspirator who can ease her volatile mother's terrifying moods. Gradually he's allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches' own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.But when a vengeful man with a long-standing grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.Inspiring and affecting, LaRose is a powerful exploration of loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart, and an unforgettable, dazzling tour de force from one of America's most distinguished literary masters.

Last Hope Island

- Hardcover

by Lynne Olson - $40.00 - Add to Cart

A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days When the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled over continental Europe in the early days of World War II, the city of London became a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France.     As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as "Last Hope Island." Getting there, one young emigré declared, was "like getting to heaven." In this epic, character-driven narrative, acclaimed historian Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history. Here we meet the courageous King Haakon of Norway, whose distinctive "H7" monogram became a symbol of his country's resistance to Nazi rule, and his fiery Dutch counterpart, Queen Wilhelmina, whose antifascist radio broadcasts rallied the spirits of her defeated people. Here, too, is the Earl of Suffolk, a swashbuckling British aristocrat whose rescue of two nuclear physicists from France helped make the Manhattan Project possible. Last Hope Island also recounts some of the Europeans' heretofore unsung exploits that helped tilt the balance against the Axis: the crucial efforts of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain; the vital role played by French and Polish code breakers in cracking the Germans' reputedly indecipherable Enigma code; and the flood of top-secret intelligence about German operations--gathered by spies throughout occupied Europe--that helped ensure the success of the 1944 Allied invasion.   A fascinating companion to Citizens of London, Olson's bestselling chronicle of the Anglo-American alliance, Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent.Praise for Last Hope Island"Last Hope Island is a book to be welcomed, both for the past it recovers and also, quite simply, for being such a pleasant tome to read."--The Washington Post"[A] pointed volume . . . [Olson] tells a great story and has a fine eye for character."--The Boston Globe"Spellbinding . . . [a] masterful account of England in World War II . . . [Olson] brings both a journalist's eye and a novelist's command of character and setting to this subject."--BookPage, "Top Pick""A rip-roaring saga of hairbreadth escape, espionage, and resistance during World War II."--Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake "Lynne Olson is a master storyteller, and she brings her great gifts to this riveting narrative of the resistance to Hitler's war machine."--Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Being Nixon "A powerful and surprising account of how figures from Nazi-occupied Europe found Great Britain an essential shield and sword in the struggle against Hitler."--Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion

The Shape of the New

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by Scott L. Montgomery - $26.95 - Add to Cart

This panoramic book tells the story of how revolutionary ideas from the Enlightenment about freedom, equality, evolution, and democracy have reverberated through modern history and shaped the world as we know it today. A testament to the enduring power of ideas,The Shape of the Newoffers unforgettable portraits of Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx--heirs of the Enlightenment who embodied its highest ideals about progress--and shows how their thoughts, over time and in the hands of their followers and opponents, transformed the very nature of our beliefs, institutions, economies, and politics. Yet these ideas also hold contradictions. They have been used in the service of brutal systems such as slavery and colonialism, been appropriated and twisted by monsters like Stalin and Hitler, and provoked reactions against the Enlightenment's legacy by Islamic Salafists and the Christian Religious Right. The Shape of the New argues that it is impossible to understand the ideological and political conflicts of our own time without familiarizing ourselves with the history and internal tensions of these world-changing ideas. With passion and conviction, it exhorts us to recognize the central importance of these ideas as historical forces and pillars of the Western humanistic tradition. It makes the case that to read the works of the great thinkers is to gain invaluable insights into the ideas that have shaped how we think and what we believe.

White Trash

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by Nancy Isenberg - $23.00 - Add to Cart

The New York Times Bestseller, with a new preface from the author"This estimable book rides into the summer doldrums like rural electrification. . . . It deals in the truths that matter."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times"This eye-opening investigation into our country's entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant."--O, The Oprah Magazine "White Trash will change the way we think about our past and present." --T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Custer's Trials In her groundbreaking  bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg, #4 on the 2016 Politico 50 list, takes on our comforting myths about equality, uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing--if occasionally entertaining--poor white trash.   "When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there's always a chance that the dancing bear will win," says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg. The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as "waste people," "offals," "rubbish," "lazy lubbers," and "crackers." By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called "clay eaters" and "sandhillers," known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.   Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America's supposedly class-free society--where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics--a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ's Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.   We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation's history. With Isenberg's landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.