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Our Paperback Picks

A handpicked selection of our favourite recent paperback books.

The Survivalists

- Kashana Cauley

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A Phenomenal Book Club Pick

"A great and engrossing read, Kashana humanizes a way of life that is often made fun of and makes the reader understand why someone would go to such great lengths to prepare for the future, so much so she almost sold me on those Life Preserver soy bars!" --Trevor Noah

A single Black lawyer puts her career and personal moral code at risk when she moves in with her coffee entrepreneur boyfriend and his doomsday-prepping roommates in a novel that's packed with tension, curiosity, humor, and wit from a writer with serious comedy credentials


In the wake of her parents' death, Aretha, a habitually single Black lawyer, has had only one obsession in life--success--until she falls for Aaron, a coffee entrepreneur. Moving into his Brooklyn brownstone to live along with his Hurricane Sandy-traumatized, illegal-gun-stockpiling, optimized-soy-protein-eating, bunker-building roommates, Aretha finds that her dreams of making partner are slipping away, replaced by an underground world, one of selling guns and training for a doomsday that's maybe just around the corner. 

For readers of Victor LaValle's The Changeling, Paul Beatty's The Sellout, and Zakiya Harris's The Other Black Girl, The Survivalists is a darkly humorous novel from a smart and relevant new literary voice that's packed with tension, curiosity and wit, and unafraid to ask the questions most relevant to a new generation of Americans: Does it make sense to climb the corporate ladder? What exactly are the politics of gun ownership? And in a world where it's nearly impossible for young people to earn enough money to afford stable housing, what does it take in order to survive?

Signal Fires

- Dani Shapiro

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On a summer night in 1985, three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything changes.

A TIME Best Fiction Book of the Year o A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction o A Real Simple Best Book of the Year


Signal Fires opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.

On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive--a young couple expecting a baby boy--it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans' brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife's decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.

In Dani Shapiro's first work of fiction in fifteen years, she returns to the form that launched her career, with a riveting, deeply felt novel that examines the ties that bind families together--and the secrets that can break them apart. Signal Fires is a work of haunting beauty by a masterly storyteller.

The Economy of Sparrows

- Trevor Herriot

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A debut novel about the heartbreak of habitat loss and family trauma by one of Canada's most beloved writer-naturalists.

This debut novel by Trevor Herriot is the richly observed story of Nell Rowan, who has inherited her family's prairie farmstead and returned there to live after many decades away. Nell is increasingly obsessed by a 19th-century bird collector while haunted by memories of her mother's disappearance.

Nell's fascination with 19th-century bird collector William Spreadborough began during her janitorial night shifts at the National Museum of Nature. Now retired and back home on the same prairie where Spreadborough collected birds, her obsession with his life and death becomes more urgent. Though she finds consolation in the company of her border collie and horses, and the wild birds passing through each season, Nell feels increasingly isolated. Her neighbours seem indifferent to the ongoing devastation contemporary agriculture wreaks on prairie ecosystems and less than supportive of Nell's attempts to track native bird populations. And now she is unable to escape the central mystery of her life: what happened to her mother in that long-ago snowstorm?

Things begin to shift for Nell when she provides temporary shelter to Carmelita, a fifteen-year-old foster child whose fresh view of the world around her just might rescue Nell from the hopelessness she fears is her inheritance.

Trevor Herriot's The Economy of Sparrows connects today's settler culture and natural science to their roots in colonial empire-building. As Nell Rowan finds the people who might help her come to some peaceful resolution of her life's challenges, readers are faced with questions of how we engage with and value the natural world, how its truths illuminate both history and our present lives, and how we justify ourselves to the wild things of the earth.

Trespasses

- Louise Kennedy

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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

"Brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking."--J.Courtney Sullivan, New York Times Book Review
 
"TRESPASSES vaults Kennedy into the ranks of such contemporary masters as McCann, Claire Keegan, Colin Barrett, and fellow Sligo resident, Kevin Barry." --Oprah Daily

Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, a shattering novel about a young woman caught between allegiance to community and a dangerous passion.

Amid daily reports of violence, Cushla lives a quiet life with her mother in a small town near Belfast, teaching at a parochial school and moonlighting at her family's pub. There she meets Michael Agnew, a Protestant barrister who's made a name for himself defending IRA members. Against her better judgment, Cushla lets herself get drawn in by him and his sophisticated world, and an affair ignites. Then the father of a student is savagely beaten, setting in motion a chain reaction that will threaten everything, and everyone, Cushla most wants to protect.

The Art of Libromancy

- Josh Cook

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ONE OF LIT HUB'S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023 o ESQUIRE's August 2023 Book Club Pick

The essays in The Art of Libromancy explore the politics, philosophies, technologies, emotional experience, and craft of selling books in the twenty-first century.

With Amazon's growing power in both bookselling and publishing, considering where and how we get our books is more important now than ever. The simple act of putting a book in a reader's hands--what booksellers call handselling--becomes a catalyst for an exploration of the moral, financial, and political pressures all indie bookstores face. From the relationship between bookselling and white supremacy, to censorship and the spread of misinformation, to the consolidation of the publishing industry, veteran bookseller and writer Josh Cook turns a generous yet critical eye to an industry at the heart of American culture, sharing tips and techniques for becoming a better reader and, of course, recommending great books along the way.

If This Book Exists, You're in the Wrong Universe

- Jason Pargin

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New York Times bestselling author Jason Pargin's hilarious and horrifying John Dies at the End series continues with If This Book Exists, You're in the Wrong Universe.

"Pargin once again delights with scathing social commentary thinly disguised as an outrageous action novel...This is a feast."--Publishers Weekly

"Within the snarky humor is an incisive commentary on social media and the state of our connected world, and a story about trauma and how people lash out when they're hurt...This isn't just a funny tale of inept supernatural investigators; it's a story of people struggling through pain to find a better path. Pargin offers us a welcome note of hope." -- Booklist

If the broken neon signs, shuttered storefronts, and sub-standard housing didn't tip you off, you've just wandered into the city of "Undisclosed". You don't want to be caught dead here, because odds are you just might find yourself rising from the grave. That hasn't stopped tourists from visiting to check out the unusual phenomena that hangs around our town like radioactive fallout. Interdimensional parasites feeding on human hosts, paranormal cults worshipping demonic entities, vengeful teenage sorcerers, we've got it all.

Did I mention the possessed toy? It's a plastic football-sized egg that's supposed to hatch an adorable, colorful stuffed bird when a child "feeds" it through a synchronized smartphone app. What's actually inside is an otherworldly monstrosity that's enticing impressionable wayward youth into murdering folks and depositing their body parts inside the egg as if it's a hungry piggy bank to trigger the end of the world.

That's where Dave, John, and Amy come in. They face supernatural threats so the rest of us don't have to--and sometimes even earn a couple of bucks to so do. But between the bloody ritual sacrifices and soul-crushing nightmares, our trio realizes this apocalypse is way above their pay grade.

Stay True

- Hua Hsu

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PULITZER PRIZE WINNER o NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu

"This book is exquisite and excruciating and I will be thinking about it for years and years to come." --Rachel Kushner, New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room


In the eyes of eighteen-year-old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken--with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity--is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes 'zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn't seem to have a place for either of them.

But despite his first impressions, Hua and Ken become friends, a friendship built on late-night conversations over cigarettes, long drives along the California coast, and the successes and humiliations of everyday college life. And then violently, senselessly, Ken is gone, killed in a carjacking, not even three years after the day they first meet.

Determined to hold on to all that was left of one of his closest friends--his memories--Hua turned to writing. Stay True is the book he's been working on ever since. A coming-of-age story that details both the ordinary and extraordinary, Stay True is a bracing memoir about growing up, and about moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging.

Honeybees and Distant Thunder

- Riku Onda, Philip Gabriel

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THE MILLION-COPY AWARD-WINNING JAPANESE BESTSELLER

In a small coastal town just a stone's throw from Tokyo, a prestigious piano competition is underway. Over the course of two feverish weeks, three students will experience some of the most joyous - and painful - moments of their lives. Though they don't know it yet, each will profoundly and unpredictably change the others, for ever.

Aya is a piano genius, well, she was, until she ran away from the stage and vanished; will Makun, tall and talented in every way, bring her back? Or will it be child of nature, Jin, a pianist without a piano, who carries the sound of his father's bees wherever he goes? Each of them will break the rules, awe their fans and push themselves to the brink. But at what cost?

Tender, cruel, compelling, HONEYBEES AND DISTANT THUNDER is the unflinching story of love, courage and rivalry. Most of all, it shows how three young people reconcile with the highs and lows of what it means to truly be a friend.

Japanese readers love HONEYBEES AND DISTANT THUNDER
***** 'The novel is a masterpiece. I applaud the author for her powers of description. The author's extraordinary affection for music made this work seem so complete'
***** 'Each contestant was wonderfully drawn, and I felt moved, as if I were truly hearing each and every musical piece. I also felt the significance of how a competition can create connections between people'
***** 'I felt like I was right there, with the audience, watching the performances, and there were scenes that brought me to tears'
***** 'This is beyond a reading experience. I felt I was actually listening to the music. It felt like some sixth sense was at work. Wonderful'

***Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel***

I Only Read Murder

- Ian Ferguson , Will Ferguson

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Wickedly funny and full of surprising twists." - Mark Leiren-Young, winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour

A once-beloved television sleuth finds herself far from Hollywood and witness to a murder during a small-town theatre production--and is convinced it's up to her to solve the case.

Introducing a new comedic crime series from the bestselling Ferguson brothers, for fans of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club, Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series and Schitt's Creek 

Miranda Abbott, once known for the crime-solving, karate-chopping church pastor she played on network television, has hit hard times. Turned down for a role on a cable reality show, Miranda is facing ruin when a mysterious postcard arrives, summoning her to Happy Rock, a small town in the Pacific Northwest. But when she gets there, nothing is what she expected.

In dire straits, she signs up for an amateur production at the Happy Rock Little Theatre, competing against the local real estate agent for the lead role. On opening night, one of the actors is murdered, live, in front of the audience. But out of 100 witnesses, no one actually saw what happened. Now everyone is under a cloud of suspicion, including the sardonic town doctor, the local high-school drama teacher, an oil-stained car mechanic, an elderly gentleman who may or may not have been in the CIA--and Miranda herself. Clearly, the only way to solve this mystery is for Miranda to summon her skills as television's Pastor Fran and draw on the help of her new sidekick, Susan, a shy bookstore clerk who seems to know everyone's secrets. Because the show must go on!

Lady Tan's Circle of Women

- Lisa See

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*NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!*

From "one of those special writers capable of delivering both poetry and plot" (The New York Times Book Review) an immersive historical novel inspired by the true story of a woman physician in 15th-century China--perfect for fans of Lisa See's classics Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

According to Confucius, "an educated woman is a worthless woman," but Tan Yunxian--born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness--is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations--looking, listening, touching, and asking--something a man can never do with a female patient.

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women's illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose--despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it--and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other's joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.

But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife--embroider bound-foot slippers, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? A captivating story of women helping each other, Lady Tan's Circle of Women is a triumphant reimagining of the life of one person who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.

Someday I'll Find You

- C C Humphreys

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This instant national bestseller, for readers of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls, is a dazzling novel about a spy and a pilot who fall in love but are wrenched apart during World War II, and must find their way back to each other.

When Billy Coke steps onto the streets of London one December evening in 1940, he has no idea he is stepping to his fate. As Hitler's bombers come close to burning the city down, Billy meets the woman who will change the course of his life: Ilse Magnusson, a musician from Norway, but also something more--a spy in training.

Escaping the Blitz for three days, she and Billy drive, quarrel, conceal, reveal . . . and fall finally, fully, in love.

Now they must part, each to fight the war their own way. Billy, a Canadian Spitfire pilot, to duel with the Luftwaffe over North Africa and the Med. Ilse to return to her conquered country, ingratiate herself with the Nazi elite--which includes her beloved father--and send vital intelligence back to Britain.

They know that the odds of both of them surviving are poor. All they can hope is that the other does survive--and that someday they find each other again.

From decadent pre-war Berlin to the atrocity at Guernica, from dogfights over Sicily to an Oslo ground under the German jackboot, through small victories and bitter losses, this is the story of a man and a woman at war. A tale of causes and compromises, heroism and betrayal. Of choices made, with consequences unforeseen. And finally, how sometimes . . . love can give you a second chance.

Stillwater

- Darcie Friesen Hossack

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When Lizzy is forced to move to the Adventist commune of Stillwater, she is sure the end times have begun. She's not wrong.

Sixteen-year-old Lizzy is trapped, caught between her passion for science and the teachings of her Seventh-day Adventist father and Mennonite mother. But she isn't the only one with problems: her mother, Marie, is increasingly reliant on prescription medication to recover from a car accident that might - or might not - have been deliberately caused by her husband, Daniel.

In a bid to regain his social standing and self-esteem, Daniel moves the family to an Adventist commune in BC's Okanagan Valley, where Lizzy meets another recent arrival with secrets of his own. He helps her establish a clandestine connection to the outside world that she hopes will help her curb her tongue and retain her sanity long enough to finish high school, but her plans change when her younger brother, Zach, is threatened. Lizzy and Zach flee to Marie's childhood home with their reluctant mother in tow. When her father arrives to take his family back to Stillwater, old resentments collide with new, forcing everyone to face a day of judgement.

To the Forest

- Anais Barbeau-Lavalette , Rhonda Mullins

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CBC BOOKS WORKS OF CANADIAN FICTION TO READ IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2023

49th SHELF EDITORS' PICK FOR JUNE 2023



When a family is forced to return to the mother's childhood home, she seeks meaning in her ancestral roots and the violent beauty of the natural world.

Fleeing the city at the beginning of the pandemic, two families are cramped together in a small century-old country house. Winter seeps through the walls, the wallpaper is peeling, and mice make their nest in the piano. Without phones or internet, they turn to the outdoors, where a new language unfolds, a language of fireflies and clover. The five children explore nature and its treasures, while our narrator, Anaïs, turns to the eccentric neighbours and her own family history to find peace and meaning in the middle of her life.

To the Forest is a field guide to a quieter life, a call to return to the places where we can reweave the threads of memory, where existence waltzes with death, where we can recapture what it means to be alive.


The Whispers

- Ashley Audrain

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INSTANT #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Expertly, subtly and powerfully rendered. . . . [The Whispers] delivers a sucker-punch ending you'll have to read twice to believe."--The New York Times Book Review

"[An] electrifying . . . razor-sharp page-turner." --Carley Fortune, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Every Summer After


On Harlow Street, the well-to-do neighbor­hood couples and their children gather for a barbecue as the summer winds down. Everything is fabulous until Whitney, the picture-perfect hostess, explodes in fury because her son disobeys her. Everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack--loud and clear. Before long, that same young boy falls from his bedside window in the middle of the night. And then his mother can only sit by her son's hospital bed, where his life hangs in the balance.

Over the course of a tense three days, the women of the neighborhood grapple with what led to that terrible night. People-pleasing Blair, Whitney's best friend, suspects something isn't as it seems. Rebecca, the ER doctor who helps treat Whit­ney's son, has struggled to have a child of her own. And the all-knowing Mara, the older woman next door, watches everyone's world unravel from her front porch.

Exploring envy, women's friendships, desire, and the intuitions that we silence, The Whispers is a chilling novel that marks Ashley Audrain as a major fiction talent.

The Woman Inside

- M T Edvardsson

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A wealthy couple ends up murdered in the nicest part of town in this compulsively readable, page-turning thriller from M. T. Edvardsson, The Woman Inside.

Bill Olsson, recently widowed, is desperate to provide for his daughter, Sally. Struggling to pay rent, he welcomes a lodger into their home: Karla, a law student and aspiring judge, who works as a housekeeper to make ends meet. Her clients are the Rytters, an incredibly wealthy couple who hide behind closed doors. The wife is ill and hasn't left the house in months. The husband is controlling and obsessive. Is he just a worried husband, concerned for his wife's health? Or is there something more sinister at play?

As Bill's situation becomes more dire, Karla is forced to make a difficult choice. And when the Rytters wind up dead, and Karla is pulled in for questioning, she's made to defend some parts of her past she'd rather not revisit.

Every person in The Woman Inside is hiding something, but could any of them really have been driven to kill?

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

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