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What To Read

Wondering what to read next? Here are our top recent picks.

In Winnipeg tune in to Morning Light on Classic 107 FM (8:30 AM on the first Friday of every month), and in Saskatoon tune in to CFCR 90.5 FMís Green Eggs and Ham with the Reverend (between 8:00-10:00 AM the first Thursday of every month) and catch McNally Robinson co-owner Chris Hall as he shares our next batch of What To Read picks.

You can also keep an eye on the Books section of the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday to see our highlights, or look for What To Read displays inside our bookstores.


Dinner in One

- by Melissa Clark

Hardcover $39.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $35.99

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o 100 all-new super-simple and incredibly delicious one-pot, one-pan, one-sheet--one-everything!--recipes from the star food writer and bestselling author of Dinner in French.

Melissa Clark brings her home cook's expertise and no-fuss approach to the world of one-pot/pan cooking. With nearly all of the recipes being made in under one hour, the streamlined steps ensure you are in and out of the kitchen without dirtying a multitude of pans or spending more time than you need to on dinner.
 
Expect to find a bevy of sheet-pan suppers (Miso-Glazed Salmon with Roasted Sugar Snap Peas), skillet dinners (Cheesy Meatball Parm with Spinach), Instant Pot® pinch hitters (Cheaters Chicken and Dumplings), comforting casseroles (Herby Artichoke and Gruyere Bread Pudding) that you can assemble right in the baking dish, crowd-pleasing one-pot pasta meals (Gingery Coconut Noodles with Shrimp and Greens), vegetable-forward mains, and dozens of tips for turning a vegetarian or meat-based recipe vegan. And since no dinner is complete without dessert, you'll find a chapter of one-bowl cakes, too--from an Easy Chocolate Fudge Torte to a Ricotta-Olive Oil Pound Cake.
 
These are simple, delicious recipes for weekdays, busy evenings, and any time you need to get a delicious, inspiring meal on the table quickly--with as little clean-up as possible.

Fen, Bog and Swamp

- by Annie Proulx

Hardcover $32.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $28.80

From Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx--whose novels are infused with her knowledge and deep concern for the earth--comes a riveting, revelatory history of our wetlands, their ecological role, and what their systematic destruction means for the planet.

A lifelong environmentalist, Annie Proulx brings her wide-ranging research and scholarship to the subject of wetlands and the vitally important yet little understood role they play in preserving the environment--by storing the carbon emissions that greatly contribute to climate change. Fens, bogs, swamps, and marine estuaries are the earth's most desirable and dependable resources, and in four stunning parts, Proulx documents the long-misunderstood role of these wetlands in saving the planet.

Taking us on a fascinating journey through history, Proulx shows us the fens of 16th-century England to Canada's Hudson Bay lowlands, Russia's Great Vasyugan Mire, America's Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the 19th-century explorers who began the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Along the way, she writes of the diseases spawned in the wetlands--the Ague, malaria, Marsh Fever--and the surprisingly significant role of peat in industrialization.

A sobering look at the degradation of wetlands over centuries and the serious ecological consequences, this is a stunningly important work and a rousing call to action by a writer whose passionate devotion to understanding and preserving the environment is on full and glorious display.

The Theory of Crows

- by David A. Robertson

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A poignant and evocative novel about the bonds of family and the gifts offered by the land

When a troubled father and his estranged teenage daughter head out onto the land in search of the family trapline, they find their way back to themselves, and to each other

Deep in the night, Matthew paces the house, unable to rest. Though his sixteen-year-old daughter, Holly, lies sleeping on the other side of the bedroom door, she is light years away from him. How can he bridge the gap between them when he can't shake the emptiness he feels inside? Holly knows her father is drifting further from her; what she doesn't understand is why. Could it be her fault that he seems intent on throwing everything away, including their relationship?

Following a devastating tragedy, Matthew and Holly head out onto the land in search of a long-lost cabin on the family trapline, miles from the Cree community they once called home. But each of them is searching for something more than a place. Matthew hopes to reconnect with the father he has just lost; Holly goes with him because she knows the father she is afraid of losing won't be able to walk away.

When things go wrong during the journey, they find they have only each other to turn to for support. What happens to father and daughter on the land will test them, and eventually heal them, in ways they never thought possible.

Ducks

- by Kate Beaton

Hardcover $39.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $35.96

"An exceptionally beautiful book about loneliness, labor, and survival."--Carmen Maria Machado

Before there was Kate Beaton, New York Times bestselling cartoonist of Hark! A Vagrant, there was Katie Beaton of the Cape Breton Beaton, specifically Mabou, a tight-knit seaside community where the lobster is as abundant as beaches, fiddles, and Gaelic folk songs. With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, Katie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta's oil rush--part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can't find it in the homeland they love so much. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed.

Beaton's natural cartooning prowess is on full display as she draws colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, northern lights, and boreal forest. Her first full length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an untold story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people.

The Marriage Portrait

- by Maggie O'farrell

Hardcover $34.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $30.60

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the author of the breakout bestseller Hamnet--winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Women's Prize--an electrifying new novel set in Renaissance Italy, and centering on the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de Medici.


Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.

Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?

As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court's eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess's future hangs entirely in the balance.

Full of the drama and verve with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O'Farrell brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life, and offers an unforgettable portrait of a resilient young woman's battle for her very survival.

The Last White Man

- by Mohsin Hamid

Hardcover $35.00 - Add to Cart
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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE SUMMER BY TIME, ELLE, USA TODAY, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY AND MORE


"Perhaps Hamid's most remarkable work yet ... an extraordinary vision of human possibility." -Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies

"Searing, exhilarating ... reimagines Kafka's iconic The Metamorphosis for our racially charged era." Hamilton Cain, Oprah Daily

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Exit West, a story of love, loss, and rediscovery in a time of unsettling change.


One morning, a man wakes up to find himself transformed. Overnight, Anders's skin has turned dark, and the reflection in the mirror seems a stranger to him. At first he shares his secret only with Oona, an old friend turned new lover. Soon, reports of similar events begin to surface. Across the land, people are awakening in new incarnations, uncertain how their neighbors, friends, and family will greet them.Some see the transformations as the long-dreaded overturning of the established order that must be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders's father and Oona's mother, a sense of profound loss and unease wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance at a kind of rebirth--an opportunity to see ourselves, face to face, anew.
 
In Mohsin Hamid's "lyrical and urgent" prose (O Magazine), The Last White Man powerfully uplifts our capacity for empathy and the transcendence over bigotry, fear, and anger it can achieve.

Making Love with the Land

- by Joshua Whitehead

Hardcover $29.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $26.96

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

FINALIST FOR THE HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION

Much-anticipated non-fiction from the author of the Giller-longlisted, GG-shortlisted and Canada Reads-winning novel Jonny Appleseed.


In the last few years, following the publication of his debut novel Jonny Appleseed, Joshua Whitehead has emerged as one of the most exciting and important new voices on Turtle Island. Now, in this first non-fiction work, Whitehead brilliantly explores Indigeneity, queerness, and the relationships between body, language and land through a variety of genres (essay, memoir, notes, confession). Making Love with the Land is a startling, heartwrenching look at what it means to live as a queer Indigenous person "in the rupture" between identities. In sharp, surprising, unique pieces--a number of which have already won awards--Whitehead illuminates this particular moment, in which both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are navigating new (and old) ideas about "the land." He asks: What is our relationship and responsibility towards it? And how has the land shaped our ideas, our histories, our very bodies?

Here is an intellectually thrilling, emotionally captivating love song--a powerful revelation about the library of stories land and body hold together, waiting to be unearthed and summoned into word.

Haven

- by Emma Donoghue

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Around the year 600, three men vow to leave the world behind and set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, with only faith to guide them

In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar priest named Artt has a dream in which God tells him to leave the sinful world behind. With two monks--young Trian and old Cormac--he rows down the River Shannon in search of an isolated spot in which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find the impossibly steep, bare island known today as Skellig Michael. In such a place, what will survival mean?

The Shortest History of War

- by Gwynne Dyer

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War has changed, but we have not. From our hunter-gatherer ancestors to the rival nuclear powers of today, whenever resources have been contested, we've gone to battle. Acclaimed historian Gwynne ­Dyer illuminates our many martial clashes in this brisk account, tracing warfare from prehistory to the world's first cities -- and on to the thousand-year "classical age" of combat, which ended when the firearm changed everything. He examines the brief interlude of "limited war" before eighteenth-century revolution ushered in "total war"-- and how the devastation was halted by the nuclear shock of Hiroshima. Then came the Cold War and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which punctured the longest stretch of peace between major powers since World War II. For all our advanced technology and hyperconnected global society, we find ourselves once again on the brink as climate change heightens competition for resources and superpowers stand ready with atomic bombs, drones, and futuristic "autonomous" weapons in development. Throughout, Dyer delves into anthropology, psychology, and other relevant fields to unmask the drivers of conflict. The Shortest History of War is for anyone who wants to understand the role of war in the human story -- and how we can prevent it from defining our future.

The Foghorn Echoes

- by Danny Ramadan

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Reader Reward Price: $28.80

"A sweeping and mesmerizing story that spans time and mortal space so expertly and elegantly." --Alan Cumming

A deeply moving novel about a forbidden love between two boys in war-torn Syria and the fallout that ripples through their adult lives.


Syria, 2003. A blooming romance leads to a tragic accident when Hussam's father catches him acting on his feelings for his best friend, Wassim. In an instant, the course of their lives is changed forever.

Ten years later, Hussam and Wassim are still struggling to find peace and belonging. Sponsored as a refugee by a controlling older man, Hussam is living an openly gay life in Vancouver, where he attempts to quiet his demons with sex, drugs, and alcohol. Wassim is living on the streets of Damascus, having abandoned a wife and child and a charade he could no longer keep up. Taking shelter in a deserted villa, he unearths the previous owner's buried secrets while reckoning with his own.

The past continues to reverberate through the present as Hussam and Wassim come face to face with heartache, history, drag queens, border guards, and ghosts both literal and figurative.

Masterfully crafted and richly detailed, The Foghorn Echoes is a gripping novel about how to carve out home in the midst of war, and how to move forward when the war is within yourself.

Joan

- by Katherine J. Chen

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Reader Reward Price: $33.30

"This is not your grandmother's St. Joan. . . . If every generation gets the Joan it deserves, ours could do worse than an ass-kicking, avenging angel fighting simply for the right to fight."--The New York Times Book Review

"It is as if Chen has crept inside a statue and breathed a soul into it, re-creating Joan of Arc as a woman for our time."--Hilary Mantel, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall

"A secular reimagining and feminist celebration of the life of Joan of Arc that transforms the legendary saint into a flawed yet undeniable young woman."--USA Today


1412. France is mired in a losing war against England. Its people are starving. Its king is in hiding. From this chaos emerges a teenage girl who will turn the tide of battle and lead the French to victory, becoming an unlikely hero whose name will echo across the centuries. 

In Katherine J. Chen's hands, the myth and legend of Joan of Arc is transformed into a flesh-and-blood young woman: reckless, steel-willed, and brilliant. This meticulously researched novel is a sweeping narrative of her life, from a childhood steeped in both joy and violence, to her meteoric rise to fame at the head of the French army, where she navigates the perils of the battlefield and the equally treacherous politics of the royal court. Many are threatened by a woman who leads, and Joan draws wrath and suspicion from all corners, while her first taste of fame and glory leaves her vulnerable to her own powerful ambition. 

With unforgettably vivid characters, transporting settings, and action-packed storytelling, Joan is a thrilling epic, a triumph of historical fiction, as well as a feminist celebration of one remarkable--and remarkably real--woman who left an indelible mark on history.

Death and the Conjuror

- by Tom Mead

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In this "sharply-drawn period piece" (New York Times), a magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes
In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions? Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist's patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets--or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon.  A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.

Some Maintenance Required

- by Marie-renee Lavoie

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Bestselling author of Autopsy of a Boring Wife Marie-Renée Lavoie is a master of making us fall in love with her characters. She does it again with the tender coming-of-age story Some Maintenance Required. It is 1993, the last year of school and Laurie's final spring before adulthood. She works part time at a restaurant and looks after Cindy, her neglected, potty-mouthed little neighbour. Like her mother, Laurie devours books and dreams big. Her father works at a garage, where Laurie constantly struggles to keep her car running. It is here that a budding romance intensifies Laurie's understanding of class differences, and opens her eyes to a more complicated world. With her big heart, she takes Cindy globe-trotting without even leaving town, and learns how to come to terms with circumstances beyond her control. Life teaches Laurie that everyone requires some maintenance sometimes. A story of taking responsibility and coming into adulthood, Some Maintenance Required is as funny and as impressive as its main character.

Francie's Got a Gun

- by Carrie Snyder

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A suspenseful and poignant tale from an award-winning writer about a girl navigating chaotic family life in a close-knit small town.

On a June afternoon in a small city, a wild-eyed girl named Francie dashes down a neighbourhood street, clutching a gun. She doesn't know exactly what she's running from, and she doesn't know what she's heading towards. All she understands is the need to survive. To save herself, she has no choice but to run--and to save those she loves, she must hold tight to that gun.
 
Swirling around Francie is a chorus of friends, family, and neighbours, each person with a different view of her. As we hear from these voices--Francie's steadfast best friend, Alice; Alice's comically unaware mother, Sally, and struggling mathematician father, David; Francie's distressed and distracted mother, Marietta, and troubled, unwell father, Luce--a fractured portrait emerges of the girl and the village surrounding her. And at last we arrive at a still point in the chaos: a tall tree where Francie takes shelter, and where the meaning of her flight--for herself, and for the people around her--becomes clear.
 
In Francie's Got a Gun, award-winning writer Carrie Snyder assembles a chorus of unforgettable characters who are both well-intentioned and flawed. At their centre is Francie, a vulnerable, imaginative girl with surprising attachments to each of them. Here is a propulsive, polyphonic, heart-expanding novel--equal parts sorrow and humour, fear and love, anger and kindness--about social breakdown and the quest for connection in a close-knit community.

Lapvona

- by Ottessa Moshfegh

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Reader Reward Price: $32.40

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

"Lapvona flips all the conventions of familial and parental relations, putting hatred where love should be or a negotiation where grief should be . . . Through a mix of witchery, deception, murder, abuse, grand delusion, ludicrous conversations, and cringeworthy moments of bodily disgust, Moshfegh creates a world that you definitely don't want to live in, but from which you can't look away." --The Atlantic

In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot of a power struggle that puts all manner of faith to a savage test, in a spellbinding novel that represents Ottessa Moshfegh's most exciting leap yet


Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life's few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did so many of the village's children. Ina's gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina's home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place. 
 
Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people's desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord's family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year's end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, will prove to be very thin indeed.