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.
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"The Circle is a polyphonic masterpiece." --Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse
From the award-winning and #1 bestselling author of The Break and The Strangers comes a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing
The concept was simple. You sit a bunch of people in a circle--everyone who hurt, everyone who got hurt, all affected--and let them share. Some people, it helped them heal, for sure. Others went in angry and left a different kind of angry. Learned how the blame belonged on the system, the history, the colonizer, the big things that were harder to change than one bad person.
The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison.
The effect of Phoenix's release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry--all feel the threat of Phoenix's release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report--but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.
Amid accusations and plots for revenge, past grievances become a poor guide in a moment of danger, and the clumsy armature of law enforcement is no match for the community. Cedar and her and Phoenix's mother, Elsie, continue down different paths of healing, while everyone in their lives form a circle around the chaos, the calm within the storm, and the beauty in the darkness.
Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, Vermette's The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather--both the victimized and the accused--to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.
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#1 NATIONAL BESTELLER o A New York Times Notable Book of 2023 o One of TIME's 100 Must-Read Books of 2023
What if you woke up one morning and found you'd acquired another self--a double who was almost you and yet not you at all? What if that double shared many of your preoccupations but, in a twisted, upside-down way, furthered the very causes you'd devoted your life to fighing against?
Not long ago, Naomi Klein had just such an experience--she was confronted with a doppelganger whose views she found abhorrent but whose name and public persona were similar enough to her own that many people confused her for the other. For a vertiginous moment, she lost her bearings. And then she got interested, in a reality that seems to be warping and doubling like a digital hall of mirrors. It's happening in our politics as New Age wellness entrepreneurs turned anti-vaxxers find common cause with fire-breathing far right propagandists (all in the name of protecting "the children"). It's happening in our culture as AI gobbles up music, paintings, fiction and everything in between and spits out imitations that threaten to overtake the originals. And it's happening to many of us as individuals as we create digital doubles of ourselves, filtered and curated just so for all the other duplicates to see.
An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, public intellectual and activist, Naomi Klein writes books that orient us in our time. She has offered essential accounts of what branding, austerity, and climate profiteering have done to our societies and souls. Now, as liberal democracies teeter on the edge, Klein takes aim at absurdist authoritarianism, using a keen sense of the ridiculous to face the doubles that haunt us. Part tragicomic memoir, part chilling reportage and cobweb-clearing analysis, Doppelganger invites readers on a wild ride, smashing through the mirror world, charting a path beyond despair towards true solidarity.
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Named a Best Book of 2023 by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Walrus, and Publishers Weekly
From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story--and who gets to be believed.
It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper--and cousin by marriage--of a once famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years. Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life, and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.
Andrew Bogle meanwhile grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. He knows that the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.
The "Tichborne Trial"--wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title--captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task...
Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity, and the mystery of "other people."
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From the Governor General's Award-winning author of Five Wives, a thrilling contemporary novel about how the past never lets us go
Isla and Jake are a couple drifting apart. She is a chef and co-owner of a farm-to-table restaurant on the brink of closing; he is a visual artist tormented by the oil-and-gas legacy of his late father. A looming figure in both their lives is Reg Bevaqua, Jake's childhood friend-turned-enemy, turned bottled-water baron.
Reg is a demanding regular at Isla's restaurant and a man with a seething resentment toward Jake. With good reason, the feeling is mutual, but Jake keeps their past from Isla as he follows a devastating trail to the source of Reg's wealth. When Jake disappears following a winter camping trip, Isla starts to connect the dots, with all roads leading to Reg and his magnificent property on Georgian Bay.
Seamlessly weaving together observations on the entitlements of the wealthy, the monetization of water and the politics of art, Joan Thomas has created a layered, page-turning read about how far we will go to hold on to power and what we will do to avenge old wounds.
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A young British woman working in a book bindery gets a chance to pursue knowledge and love when World War I upends her life in this new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Reese's Book Club pick The Dictionary of Lost Words.
"Williams spins an immersive and compelling tale, sweeping us back to the Oxford she painted so expertly in The Dictionary of Lost Words."--Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
It is 1914, and as the war draws the young men of Britain away to fight, women must keep the nation running. Two of those women are Peggy and Maude, twin sisters who live on a narrow boat in Oxford and work in the bindery at the university press.
Ambitious, intelligent Peggy has been told for most of her life that her job is to bind the books, not read them--but as she folds and gathers pages, her mind wanders to the opposite side of Walton Street, where the female students of Oxford's Somerville College have a whole library at their fingertips. Maude, meanwhile, wants nothing more than what she has: to spend her days folding the pages of books in the company of the other bindery girls. She is extraordinary but vulnerable, and Peggy feels compelled to watch over her.
Then refugees arrive from the war-torn cities of Belgium, sending ripples through the Oxford community and the sisters' lives. Peggy begins to see the possibility of another future where she can educate herself and use her intellect, not just her hands. But as war and illness reshape her world, her love for a Belgian soldier--and the responsibility that comes with it--threaten to hold her back.
The Bookbinder is a story about knowledge--who creates it, who can access it, and what truths get lost in the process. Much as she did in the international bestseller The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams thoughtfully explores another rarely seen slice of history through women's eyes.
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A heartbreakingly gorgeous novel based on the true story of two girls who fall secretly, deeply and dangerously in love at boarding school in nineteenth century York, from the bestselling author of Room and The Wonder
Finalist for the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Drawing on years of investigation and Anne Lister's five-million-word secret journal, Learned by Heart is the long-buried love story of Eliza Raine, an orphan heiress banished from India to England at age six, and Anne Lister, a brilliant, troublesome tomboy, who meet at the Manor School for Young Ladies in York in 1805 when they are both fourteen.
Emotionally intense, psychologically compelling and deeply researched, Learned by Heart is an extraordinary work of fiction by one of the world's greatest storytellers. Full of passion and heartbreak, the tangled lives of Anne Lister and Eliza Raine form a love story for the ages.
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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
From beloved and bestselling author Terry Fallis comes a novel unlike any of his others. A thoughtful exploration of aging, loss, family, friendship, and love, all with his trademark humour and heart.
Jack McMaster seemingly has it all. A beautiful house, a loving son of many talents (including cooking, which is great news for Jack, if not for his waistline), even a special bond with his buddies in his ball hockey league. But he's also learning to live with loss, leaving a gaping hole in his life--a life that will never be the same as before. Jack passes his days knowing he has the support of his family and his friends, but he can't shake the feeling that his life has gone gray, and that time is slipping by so quickly.
Then, a short and shocking video from an unexpected source gives him the gumption to make a change and maybe even haul himself out of his melancholia. Inspired by his lifelong fascination with 1920s Paris, Jack finally visits the City of Light, following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and wandering the Left Bank. Slowly, the colour seeps back into his life, aided by a chance encounter in a café that leads Jack into the art world, and a Paris mystery nearly a century old.
Full of sincerity and warmth, A New Season shows us all that sometimes, making a change in your life can save your life.
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What does it mean to live beside an eroding democracy? As this powerful and timely book argues, that question will define the next generation of Canadian politics.
As a congressional staffer in the United States, Rob Goodman watched firsthand as a rising authoritarian movement disenfranchised voters, sabotaged institutions, and brought America to the brink of a coup. Now, as a political theorist who makes his home in Canada, he has an urgent warning for his adopted country: The same forces that have upended democracy in America and around the world are on the move in Canada, too. But we can protect our democracy by drawing on a set of political, cultural, and historical resources that are distinctly of this place.
In Not Here, Goodman outlines four such resources. First, the rejection of the dangerous idea of one "real" Canadian people. Second, the refusal of political charisma and founder-worship. Third, a set of social programs--embattled but still standing--that empower neighbours to see one another as equals. And fourth, Canada's longstanding search for an identity separate from the great power with which it shares a continent.
Today, that great power is a democracy in decline, and so defending what makes Canada distinct matters more now than ever before. Canadian difference is not a curiosity, a luxury good, or a vanity item. It is a democratic immune system.
Laying bare the historical roots of today's politics and making an urgent case for action, Not Here is a roadmap for safeguarding a democracy under unprecedented threat.
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A GLOBE & MAIL BESTSELLER
Over 100 Proud-to-be-Prairie recipes showcasing the seasons, produce, flavours, and traditions of one of Canada's most exciting culinary regions.
Dan Clapson and Twyla Campbell take us on a grand tour of the many faces and places that make up the Canadian Prairies. With over 100 delectable recipes, Prairie draws inspiration from the beauty of the changing seasons as well as the many different ingredients and cultures that make the Prairies such a culinary hotspot. The book is filled with
Tried-and-true seasonal recipes that will introduce Prairie flavours to your home kitchen like Sorrel, Farro, and Chicken Soup and Saskatchewan Succotash SaladIngredients special to the Prairies like Sea Buckthorn, Haskap, and Saskatoon BerryIntroductions to many of the Prairie's most exciting chefs and their signature recipesA mix of modern and traditional recipes, from perogies to Beet Mezzalune
No matter the season, the Prairies are all about preserving every ounce of food, so of course there's also tons of helpful tips and tricks on reducing food waste. There's even a Staples chapter with recipes for stocking your pantry to keep you cooking all year long. Both a love letter to Canada's grandest provinces and an indispensable collection of recipes, Prairie is as inviting and bountiful as the region it celebrates.
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An Economist Best Book of 2023
An NPR 2023 "Books We Love" Pick
A global exploration of the eight remaining species of bears--and the dangers they face.
Bears have always held a central place in our collective memory, from Indigenous folklore and Greek mythology to nineteenth-century fairytales and the modern toy shop. But as humans and bears come into ever-closer contact, our relationship nears a tipping point. Today, most of the eight remaining bear species are threatened with extinction. Some, such as the panda bear and the polar bear, are icons of the natural world; others, such as the spectacled bear and the sloth bear, are far less known. In Eight Bears, journalist Gloria Dickie embarks on a globe-trotting journey to explore each bear's story, whisking readers from the cloud forests of the Andes to the ice floes of the Arctic; from the jungles of India to the backwoods of the Rocky Mountain West. She meets with key figures on the frontlines of modern conservation efforts--the head of a rescue center for sun and moon bears freed from bile farms, a biologist known as Papa Panda, who has led China's panda-breeding efforts for almost four decades, a conservationist retraining a military radar system to detect and track polar bears near towns--to reveal the unparalleled challenges bears face as they contend with a rapidly changing climate and encroaching human populations. Weaving together ecology, history, mythology, and a captivating account of her travels and observations, Dickie offers a closer look at our volatile relationship with these magnificent mammals. Engrossing and deeply reported, Eight Bears delivers a clear warning for what we risk losing if we don't learn to live alongside the animals that have shaped our cultures, geographies, and stories.
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A radical reimagining of the role of art and culture in contemporary democracy, The Compassionate Imagination proposes a new Canadian Cultural Contract that re-humanizes our way of living together by tapping into the instincts for generosity and compassion that find their expression in art. Over the last forty years, the arts have been increasingly deemed unimportant to the creation of an educated workforce. Reflecting a broadly held political view that in a market-based economy the arts were "a frill," they were deemed "unnecessary" courses compared to sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But what kind of Canada might we make if we were to place art and culture at the heart of our mutual decision-making, and return the arts to a central position in our education, shifting to steam rather than stem? What might be possible if we integrate the creative imagination into our responses to the great social challenges we face? What impact would it have on the future shape of our democracy? It's time to find where the Compassionate Imagination can take us.
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Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Colson Whitehead continues his Harlem saga in a powerful and hugely-entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory.
It's 1971. Trash piles up on the streets, crime is at an all-time high, the city is careening towards bankruptcy, and a shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Amid this collective nervous breakdown, furniture store owner and ex-fence Ray Carney tries to keep his head down and his business thriving. His days moving stolen goods around the city are over. It's strictly the straight and narrow for him--until he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter, May, and he decides to hit up his old police contact Munson, fixer extraordinaire. But Munson has his own favors to ask of Carney and staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated--and deadly.
1973. The counterculture has created a new generation, the old ways are being overthrown, but there is one constant--Pepper, Carney's endearingly violent partner in crime. It's getting harder to put together a reliable crew for hijackings, heists, and assorted felonies, so Pepper takes on a side gig doing security on a Blaxploitation shoot in Harlem. He finds himself in a freaky world of Hollywood stars, up-and-coming comedians, and celebrity drug dealers, in addition to the usual cast of hustlers, mobsters, and hit men. These adversaries underestimate the seasoned crook--to their regret.
1976. Harlem is burning, block by block, while the whole country is gearing up for Bicentennial celebrations. Carney is trying to come up with a July Fourth ad he can live with. ("Two Hundred Years of Getting Away with It!"), while his wife, Elizabeth, is campaigning for her childhood friend, the former assistant D.A. and rising politician Alexander Oakes. When a fire severely injures one of Carney's tenants, he enlists Pepper to look into who may be behind it. Our crooked duo have to battle their way through a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent and the utterly corrupted.
Crook Manifesto is a darkly funny tale of a city under siege, but also a sneakily searching portrait of the meaning of family. Colson Whitehead's kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem is sure to stand as one of the all-time great evocations of a place and a time.
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In light of Russia's aggressive 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a crucial, elucidative read, a sweeping epic chronicling a thousand years of strife, war, and bloodshed, from pre-Christianity to the fall of Communism--illuminating the remarkable cultural significance and richness of a place perpetually lost to the margins of history.
"Eastern Europe" has gone out of fashion since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ask someone today, and they might tell you that Estonia is in the Baltics or Scandinavia, that Slovakia is in Central Europe, and that Croatia is in the eastern Adriatic or the Balkans. In fact, Eastern Europe is a place that barely exists at all, except in cultural memory. Yet it remains a powerful marker of identity for many, with a fragmented and wide-ranging history defined by texts, myths, and memories of centuries of hardship and suffering.
Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a masterful narrative about a place that has survived being forgotten. Beginning with long-lost accounts of early pagan life, Mikanowski offers a kaleidoscopic tour of the various peoples who made Eastern Europe their home over the centuries, including the Roma, Jews, and Muslims; the great kingdoms of the medieval period; the rise and fall of the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Russian empires; the dawn of the modern era; the ravages of fascism and Communism; the birth of the modern nation-state and beyond.
A student of literature, history, and the ghosts of his own family's past, Mikanowski paints a magisterial portrait of a place united by diversity and eclecticism, and of people with the shared story of being the dominated rather than the dominating. The result is a loving and ebullient celebration of the distinctive and vibrant cultures that stubbornly persisted at the margins of Western Europe and Russia, and a powerful corrective that re-centers not only our understanding of how the modern Western world took shape but also the ways in which Eastern Europe has evolved throughout history to become what it is today.
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THE INSTANT #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself. Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he's known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed. Behind Bob Comet's straight-man façade is the story of an unhappy child's runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian's vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob's experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsized players to welcome onto the stage of his life. With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert's condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.
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The story of how a new generation of tech-savvy franchise owners is reshaping every aspect of professional sports.
In the last two decades, innovation, data analysis, and technology have driven a tectonic shift in the sports business. Game of Edges is the story of how sports franchises evolved, on and off the field, from raggedly run small businesses into some of the most systematically productive companies around. In today's game, everyone from the owners to the marketing staff are using information--data--to give their team an edge. For analysts, an edge is their currency. Figuring out that bunting hurts your offense? That's an edge. So is discovering metrics that can predict the career arc of your free agent shooting guard. Or combing through a decade of ticket-buying data to target persuadable fans. These small, incremental steps move a sports franchise from merely ordinary to the leading edge. Franchises today are more than just sports; they integrate a whole suite of other businesses--television and digital content, gambling and real estate, fashion and apparel, entertainment, catering and concessions, and much more. But an optimized franchise has no room for error. Teams must do what the numbers say, reducing the element of chance, limiting those random moments of athletic heroism that make sports thrilling to watch. Optimization also means the franchise's main goal isn't championships anymore; it's keeping you, the viewer, engaged with the product. Drawing on extensive interviews with franchise owners, general managers, executives, and players, Bruce Schoenfeld introduces dynamic leaders who are radically reimagining the operations of these decades-old teams--and producing mind-boggling valuations. He joins the architects of the Golden State Warriors dynasty for an exclusive reception before tip-off. He stands among the faithful at Anfield, watching Liverpool's analytics guru size up a prized midfielder. And he watches the president of the Chicago Cubs break ground on a new DraftKings gambling parlor at Wrigley Field, not ten miles from the site of the original Black Sox betting scandal. Essential reading for anyone interested in sports, business, or technology, Game of Edges explores a world where winning the game is only the beginning.
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