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What To Read: January & February 2019

Saturday, Dec 29, 2018 at 4:29pm

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall. Look for our in-store What To Read display tables.

The Wolf by Nate Blakeslee. Softcover. $21.00. RRC Price $18.90. In recent decades, conservationists have reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park. Nate Blakeslee tells the story of one of these wolves, an alpha female named O-Six. She's a merciful leader, a fierce fighter, and a doting mother and even becomes something of a social media star. But as she raises her pups and protects her pack, O-Six is being challenged: by hunters who compete for the elk they all prize; by cattle ranchers who are losing livestock and have the ear of politicians; and by other Yellowstone wolves who resent her dominance of the beautiful Lamar Valley. (Vintage. October)

Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason, translated by Brian FitzGibbon. Softcover. $25.95. RRC Price $23.35. Herra Björnsson is at the end of her life. She has maybe three weeks left so she has booked her cremation, at a crispy 1,000 degrees. But until then she has her memories to sustain her and what a life this remarkable eighty-year-old narrator has led. From her childhood in the islands of Iceland, to teen years spent living by her wits in war-torn Europe while her father fought on the side of the Nazis, to love affairs on several continents, Herra moved through the major events of her century. Now, as she awaits death in Reykjavík, she shows us a woman unbowed by the forces of history. (Algonquin Books. January)

See more What To Read picks after the jump...


Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday. Softcover. $22.00. RRC Price $19.80. Told in distinct sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that exist in many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section tells the story of Alice and her relationship with a famous and much older writer. The second is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who is detained by immigration officers and spends a weekend in a holding room in Heathrow. These seemingly disparate stories resonate as their perspectives overlap, revealing new implications for their relationship. (Simon & Schuster. October)

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller. Softcover. $24.99. RRC Price $22.49. One February night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain's disastrous campaign against Napoleon's forces in Spain. Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind. Instead of returning to his regiment, he sets out for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: an English corporal and a Spanish officer are on his trail. The haven he finds on a remote island is not safe, at all. (Sceptre. November)

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak. Softcover. $24.00. RRC Price $21.60. This novel is set during a party in contemporary Istanbul, as Peri, a wealthy woman, navigates that city’s tensions between East and West, religious and secular, rich and poor. Over the course of the dinner, terrorist attacks occur across the city but in Peri's mind are the memories of her time at Oxford. As a young woman there, she had become friends with Shirin, an assimilated Iranian girl, and Mona, a devout Egyptian American. Their arguments about Islam and feminism find focus as the terrorist attacks come closer and Peri is moved to recall the scandal that tore them all apart. (Bloomsbury. January)

The Death & Life of Strother Purcell by Ian Weir. Softcover. $22.95. RRC Price $20.65. In 1876, the lawman Strother Purcell disappears into a winter storm in British Columbia, while hunting down his outlawed half-brother. Sixteen years later, the wreck of Purcell resurfaces — derelict, homeless and one-eyed — in a San Francisco jail cell. A failed journalist named Barrington Weaver conceives a grand redemptive plan. He will write Purcell's true-life story. What unfolds is a deadpan revisionist Western, a saga of obsession, lost love, treachery, and revenge. (Goose Lane Editions. September)

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Softcover. $23.95. RRC Price $21.55. Ada has always been unusual. As an infant in southern Nigeria, she is a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents successfully prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry, as the young Ada becomes a troubled child. Born "with one foot on the other side," she begins to develop separate selves. When she travels to America for college, a traumatic event crystallizes the selves into something more powerful. And as Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters move into control, her life spirals in a dangerous direction. (Grove Press. January)

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. Softcover. $24.95. RRC Price $22.45. King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters. He has lain the barbed wire, he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter. Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave. Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. But when their father, the only man they've ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inwards until the day three strange men wash ashore. (Penguin. January)

Wild and Beautiful is the Night by John Miller. Softcover. $22.95. RRC Price $20.65. Paulette and Danni grew up a few miles apart, but they come from entirely different worlds. Paulette's family emigrated from Jamaica; Danni grew up Jewish and affluent in Toronto. Now both women find themselves on the streets of Toronto, working in the sex trade. Paulette has long experience, working to support herself and her addiction, and she acts as an unlikely and reluctant mentor and friend to Danni, who is new to the street and whose own addiction has set her on a similar path. Their paths intersect again and again over the course of a troubled friendship. (Cormorant Books. October)

Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler. Softcover. $19.95. RRC Price $17.95. In 2001, a woman's skeleton was found in the woods overlooking Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital. The woman was never identified, was assigned the name Madame Victoria, and was forgotten. But not by Catherine Leroux, who constructs in this novel, twelve different histories for the unknown woman. Each Victoria meets her end only after Leroux resurrects her, replacing her anonymity with vivid reimaginings of her possible lives. Madame Victoria becomes more than the story of one unknown woman: it becomes a celebration of the lives of unknown women everywhere. (Biblioasis. September)

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Literature, What To Read

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