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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.


The Motion Picture Teller

- Colin Cotterill

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An enchanting new standalone novel from CWA Dagger winner Colin Cotterill, set in Bangkok: a mystery without a crime, where the line between fact and fiction blurs, and nothing is as simple as it appears

Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Mail service, hates his job. The only bright spot in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema--until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali's store.

Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a near-future Thailand--and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it's the most brilliant Thai movie they've ever seen. But nobody else has ever heard of the movie, the director, the actors, or any of the crew. Who would make a movie like this and not release it, and why?

Feeling a powerful calling to solve the mystery of Bangkok 2010, Supot journeys deep into the Thai countryside and discovers that powerful people are dead set on keeping the film buried.

The World and All That It Holds

- Aleksandar Hemon

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From literary powerhouse Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Lazarus Project, comes a big, brilliant, sweeping novel of love, memory, and history-in-the-making.

As the Archduke Franz Ferdinand arrives in Sarajevo on a sunny June day in 1914, Rafael Pinto is busy crushing herbs and grinding tablets behind the counter at the pharmacy he inherited from his estimable father. It's not quite the life he had expected during his poetry -filled student days in sophisticated, libertine Vienna--but it's nothing a dash of laudanum from the high shelf, a summer stroll, and idle fantasies about passersby can't help.

And then the world explodes. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions and affection of Osman, a fellow soldier, a man of action to complement Pinto's introspective, poetic soul; a dapper, charismatic storyteller; Pinto's protector and his lover.

Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches, survive near-certain death and imprisonment, tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, from one world to another, it is Pinto's love for Osman--with the occasional opiatic interlude--that keeps him going.

The World and All That It Holds--in all its hilarious, heartbreaking, erotic, whimsical, philosophical glory--showcases Hemon's celebrated talent at its pinnacle and cements him as one of the boldest voices of our time.

Maame

- Jessica George

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"An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys--and the guilt--of trying to find your own way in life." --Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Meeting Maame feels like falling in love for the first time: warm, awkward, joyous, a little bit heartbreaking and, most of all, unforgettable." --Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming

Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.

It's fair to say that Maddie's life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson's. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she's ready to experience some important "firsts": She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it's not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils--and rewards--of putting her heart on the line.

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George's Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures--and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.

Tomb of Sand

- Geetanjali Shree, Daisy Rockwell

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WINNER OF THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

A playful, feminist, and utterly original epic set in contemporary northern India, about a family and the inimitable octogenarian matriarch at its heart.

"A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you've got women and a border, a story can write itself . . ."

Eighty-year-old Ma slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband. Despite her family's cajoling, she refuses to leave her bed. Her responsible eldest son, Bade, and dutiful, Reebok-sporting daughter-in-law, Bahu, attend to Ma's every need, while her favorite grandson, the cheerful and gregarious Sid, tries to lift her spirits with his guitar. But it is only after Sid's younger brother--Serious Son, a young man pathologically incapable of laughing--brings his grandmother a sparkling golden cane covered with butterflies that things begin to change.

With a new lease on life thanks to the cane's seemingly magical powers, Ma gets out of bed and embarks on a series of adventures that baffle even her unconventional feminist daughter, Beti. She ditches her cumbersome saris, develops a close friendship with a hijra, and sets off on a fateful journey that will turn the family's understanding of themselves upside down.

Rich with fantastical elements, folklore, and exuberant wordplay, Geetanjali Shree's magnificent novel explores timely and timeless topics, including Buddhism, global warming, feminism, Partition, gender binary, transcending borders, and the profound joys of life. Elegant, heartbreaking, and funny, it is a literary masterpiece that marks the American debut of an extraordinary writer.

Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell

Author's name pronounced: Ghee-TAHN-juh-lee Shree

Bad Cree

- Jessica Johns

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A haunting debut novel where dreams, family and spirits collide 

Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8. 

Mackenzie continues to accidentally bring back items from her dreams, dreams that are eerily similar to real memories of her older sister and Kokum before their untimely deaths. As Mackenzie's life spirals into a living nightmare--crows are following her around and she's getting texts from her dead sister on the other side--it becomes clear that these dreams have terrifying, real-life consequences. Desperate for help, Mackenzie returns to her mother, sister, cousin, and aunties in her small Alberta hometown. Together, they try to uncover what is haunting Mackenzie before something irrevocable happens to anyone else around her. 

Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice. 

True Reconciliation

- Jody Wilson-Raybould

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the #1 bestselling author of 'Indian' in the Cabinet, a groundbreaking and accessible roadmap to advancing true reconciliation across Canada.


There is one question Canadians have asked Jody Wilson-Raybould more than any other: What can I do to help advance reconciliation? It is clear that people from all over the country want to take concrete and tan­gible action that will make real change. We just need to know how to get started. This book provides that next step. For Wilson-Raybould, what individuals and organizations need to do to advance true reconciliation is self-evident, accessible, and achievable. True Reconciliation is broken down into three core practices--Learn, Understand, and Act--that can be applied by individuals, communities, organiza­tions, and governments.

The practices are based not only on the historical and con­temporary experience of Indigenous peoples in their relentless efforts to effect transformative change and decolonization, but also on the deep understanding and expertise about what has been effective in the past, what we are doing right, and wrong, today, and what our collective future requires. Fundamental to a shared way of thinking is an understand­ing of the Indigenous experience throughout the story of Canada. In a manner that reflects how work is done in the Big House, True Reconciliation features an "oral" history of these lands, told through Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices from our past and present.

The ultimate and attainable goal of True Reconciliation is to break down the silos we've created that prevent meaning­ful change, to be empowered to increasingly act as "inbe­tweeners," and to take full advantage of this moment in our history to positively transform the country into a place we can all be proud of.

Playing the Long Game

- Christine Sinclair

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

For the first time in depth and in public, Olympic soccer gold-medalist Christine Sinclair, the top international goal scorer of all time and one of Canada's greatest athletes, reflects on both her exhilarating successes and her heartbreaking failures. Playing the Long Game is a book of earned wisdom on the value of determination and team spirit, and on leadership that changed the landscape of women's sport.


Christine Sinclair is one of the world's most respected and admired athletes. Not only is she the player who has scored the most goals on the international soccer stage, male or female, but more than two decades into her career, she is the heart of any team she plays on, the captain of both Canada's national team and the top-ranked Portland Thorns FC in the National Women's Soccer League. 
    Working with the brilliant and bestselling sportswriter Stephen Brunt, who has followed her career for decades, the intensely private Sinclair will share her reflections on the significant moments and turning points in her life and career, the big wins and losses survived, not only on the pitch. Her extraordinary journey, combined with her candour, commitment and decency, will inspire and empower her fans and admirers, and girls and women everywhere.

The Philosophy of Modern Song

- Bob Dylan

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The Philosophy of Modern Song is Bob Dylan's first book of new writing since 2004's Chronicles: Volume One--and since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

Dylan, who began working on the book in 2010, offers his extraordinary insight into the nature of popular music. He writes over sixty essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal. These essays are written in Dylan's unique prose. They are mysterious and mercurial, poignant and profound, and often laugh-out-loud funny. And while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition. Running throughout the book are nearly 150 carefully curated photos as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem and add to the work's transcendence.

In 2020, with the release of his outstanding album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan became the first artist to have an album hit the Billboard Top 40 in each decade since the 1960s. The Philosophy of Modern Song contains much of what he has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that Dylan does, it is a momentous artistic achievement.

Art Is Life

- Jerry Saltz

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From the Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of How to Be an Artist: a deliciously readable survey of the art world in turbulent times

Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists, and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary readers to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, "the art critic." 
 
Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points--from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today--Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz's eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers like Kara Walker, David Wojnarowicz, Hilma af Klint, and Jasper Johns; provocateurs like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Marina Abramovi?; and visionaries like Jackson Pollock, Bill Traylor, and Willem de Kooning. Saltz celebrates landmarks like the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, writes searchingly about disturbing moments such as the Ankara gallery assassination, and offers surprising takes on figures from Thomas Kinkade to Kim Kardashian. And he shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a "failed artist," and his epiphanies upon beholding work by Botticelli, Delacroix, and the cave painters of Niaux. 
 
With his signature blend of candor and conviction, Jerry Saltz argues in Art Is Life for the importance of the fearless artist--reminding us that art is a kind of channeled voice of human experience, a necessary window onto our times. The result is an openhearted and irresistibly readable appraisal by one of our most important cultural observers.

Dr. No

- Percival Everett

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A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising

The protagonist of Percival Everett's puckish new novel is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means "nothing" in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for "nothing.") He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he'll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks.

With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill's desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, "Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it's time we gave nothing back."

Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn't to say that it's not about anything. In fact, it's about villains. Bond villains. And that's not nothing.

Inciting Joy

- Ross Gay

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"BRILLIANT." --Ada Limón, U.S. poet laureate

An intimate and electrifying collection of essays from the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights.

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2022  

 
In these gorgeously written and timely pieces, prizewinning poet and author Ross Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life's inevitable hardships. Throughout Inciting Joy, he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, crucially, how we can expand it.
 
In "We Kin," Gay thinks about the garden (es­pecially around August, when the zucchini and tomatoes come in) as a laboratory of mutual aid; in "Share Your Bucket," he explores skateboard­ing's reclamation of public spaces; he considers the costs of masculinity in "Grief Suite"; and in "Through My Tears I Saw," he recognizes what was healed in caring for his father as he was dying.
 
In an era when divisive voices take up so much airspace, Inciting Joy offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love?
 
Taking a clear-eyed look at injustice, political polarization, and the destruction of the natural world, Gay shows us how we might resist, how the study of joy might lead us to a wild, unpredictable, transgressive, and unboundaried solidarity. In fact, it just might help us survive.

The Passenger

- Cormac McCarthy

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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER o The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Road returns with the first of a two-volume masterpiece: The Passenger is the story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God.

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

"McCarthy returns with a one-two punch...a welcome return from a legend." --Esquire

Look for Stella Maris, the second volume in The Passenger series, available now.

1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot's flight bag, the plane's black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit--by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul.
 
Traversing the American South, from the garrulous barrooms of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the Florida coast, The Passenger is a breathtaking novel of morality and science, the legacy of sin, and the madness that is human consciousness.

Nights of Plague

- Orhan Pamuk, Ekin Oklap

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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES o THE FINANCIAL TIMES o THE NEW YORKER

A new book by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Part detective story, part historical epic--a bold and brilliant novel that imagines a plague ravaging a fictional island in the Ottoman Empire.


     It is April 1900, in the Levant, on the imaginary island of Mingeria--the twenty-ninth state of the Ottoman Empire--located in the eastern Mediterranean between Crete and Cyprus. Half the population is Muslim, the other half are Orthodox Greeks, and tension is high between the two. When a plague arrives--brought either by Muslim pilgrims returning from the Mecca, or by merchant vessels coming from Alexandria--the island revolts. To stop the epidemic, the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II sends his most accomplished quarantine expert to the island--an Orthodox Christian. Some of the Muslims, including followers of a popular religious sect and its leader, Sheikh H, refuse to take precautions or respect the quarantine. And the sultan's expert is murdered.

As the plague continues its rapid spread, the sultan sends a second doctor to the island, this time a Muslim, and strict quarantine measures are declared. But the incompetence of the island's governor and local administration and the people's refusal to respect the bans dooms the quarantine to failure, and the death count continues to rise. Faced with the danger that the plague might spread to the West and to Istanbul, the sultan bows to international pressure and allows foreign and Ottoman warships to blockade the island. Now the people of Mingeria are on their own, and they must find a way to defeat the plague themselves.

Steeped in history and rife with suspense, Nights of Plague is an epic story set more than one hundred years ago with themes that feel remarkably contemporary.

The Power of Story

- Harold R Johnson

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Award-winning Indigenous author Harold R. Johnson discusses the promise and potential of storytelling. Approached by an ecumenical society representing many faiths, from Judeo-Christians to fellow members of First Nations, Harold R. Johnson agreed to host a group who wanted to hear him speak about the power of storytelling. This book is the outcome of that gathering. In The Power of Story, Johnson explains the role of storytelling in every aspect of human life, from personal identity to history and the social contracts that structure our societies, and illustrates how we can direct its potential to re-create and reform not only our own lives, but the life we share. Companionable, clear-eyed, and, above all, optimistic, Johnson's message is both a dire warning and a direct invitation to each of us to imagine and create, together, the world we want to live in.

The Song of the Cell

- Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Named a New York Times Notable Book of 2022 and a Best Book of the Year by Oprah Daily, BookPage, Book Riot, the New York Public Library, and more!

From the author of The Emperor of All Maladies, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene, a #1 New York Times bestseller, comes his most spectacular book yet, an exploration of medicine and our radical new ability to manipulate cells. Rich with Mukherjee's revelatory and exhilarating stories of scientists, doctors, and the patients whose lives may be saved by their work, The Song of the Cell is the third book in this extraordinary writer's exploration of what it means to be human.

Mukherjee begins this magnificent story in the late 1600s, when a distinguished English polymath, Robert Hooke, and an eccentric Dutch cloth-merchant, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek looked down their handmade microscopes. What they saw introduced a radical concept that swept through biology and medicine, touching virtually every aspect of the two sciences, and altering both forever. It was the fact that complex living organisms are assemblages of tiny, self-contained, self-regulating units. Our organs, our physiology, our selves--hearts, blood, brains--are built from these compartments. Hooke christened them "cells".

The discovery of cells--and the reframing of the human body as a cellular ecosystem--announced the birth of a new kind of medicine based on the therapeutic manipulations of cells. A hip fracture, a cardiac arrest, Alzheimer's dementia, AIDS, pneumonia, lung cancer, kidney failure, arthritis, COVID pneumonia--all could be reconceived as the results of cells, or systems of cells, functioning abnormally. And all could be perceived as loci of cellular therapies.

In The Song of the Cell, Mukherjee tells the story of how scientists discovered cells, began to understand them, and are now using that knowledge to create new humans. He seduces you with writing so vivid, lucid, and suspenseful that complex science becomes thrilling. Told in six parts, laced with Mukherjee's own experience as a researcher, a doctor, and a prolific reader, The Song of the Cell is both panoramic and intimate--a masterpiece.