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 FM’s 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 so see our highlights, or look for our What To Read displays inside our bookstores.
- by Omar El Akkad
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From the widely acclaimed author of American War: a new novel--beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving--that brings the global refugee crisis down to the level of a child's eyes.
More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one has made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials but of Vanna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though she and the boy are complete strangers, though they don't speak a common language, she determines to do whatever it takes to save him.
In alternating chapters, we learn the story of the boy's life and how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the girl and boy as they make their way toward a vision of safety. But as the novel unfurls, we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world, it is the story of our collective moment in this time: of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair--and of the way each of those things can blind us to reality, or guide us to a better one.
- by Sunjeev Sahota
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From the Booker Prize finalist, a captivating novel about two unforgettable characters seeking to free themselves--one from the expectations placed on women in early twentieth-century Punjab, and the other from the weight of life in the contemporary Indian diaspora.
1929. Fifteen-year-old Mehar is one of three wives married to three brothers on a farm in small-town Punjab. The problem is, she doesn't know which of them is her husband. She and her "sisters" spend their days hard at work, sequestered from the men--except when their domineering mother-in-law, Mai, summons them to a darkened chamber at night. Curious and headstrong, Mehar can't help but try to piece together what Mai doesn't want her to know. From beneath her veil, she studies the sounds of the men's voices, the calluses on their fingers as she serves their tea. When at last, through the slats of the family's china room, she glimpses something that seems to confirm her husband's identity, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.
1999. A British Sikh man drops out of university and travels to Punjab, hoping to shake an addiction that has held him in its grip for over a year. Growing up in small-town England, the son of an immigrant shopkeeper, his experiences of racist ostracism and violence led him to seek a dangerous form of escape. Now, as he rides out his withdrawal at an old farmstead belonging to the family, he meets a woman, an outcast who offers him friendship.
At once sweeping and intimate, vivid and gripping, China Room is a deeply moving story of oppression, love, trauma, and resilience--the perfect book for our times.
- by Sam Kean
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From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes the gripping, untold history of science's darkest secrets, "a fascinating book [that] deserves a wide audience" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
Science is a force for good in the world--at least usually. But sometimes, when obsession gets the better of scientists, they twist a noble pursuit into something sinister. Under this spell, knowledge isn't everything, it's the only thing--no matter the cost. Bestselling author Sam Kean tells the true story of what happens when unfettered ambition pushes otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science, trampling ethical boundaries and often committing crimes in the process.
The Icepick Surgeon masterfully guides the reader across two thousand years of history, beginning with Cleopatra's dark deeds in ancient Egypt. The book reveals the origins of much of modern science in the transatlantic slave trade of the 1700s, as well as Thomas Edison's mercenary support of the electric chair and the warped logic of the spies who infiltrated the Manhattan Project. But the sins of science aren't all safely buried in the past. Many of them, Kean reminds us, still affect us today. We can draw direct lines from the medical abuses of Tuskegee and Nazi Germany to current vaccine hesitancy, and connect icepick lobotomies from the 1950s to the contemporary failings of mental-health care. Kean even takes us into the future, when advanced computers and genetic engineering could unleash whole new ways to do one another wrong.
Unflinching, and exhilarating to the last page, The Icepick Surgeon fuses the drama of scientific discovery with the illicit thrill of a true-crime tale. With his trademark wit and precision, Kean shows that, while science has done more good than harm in the world, rogue scientists do exist, and when we sacrifice morals for progress, we often end up with neither.
- by Heather Cass White
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The critic and scholar Heather Cass White offers an exploration of the nature of reading
Heather Cass White's Books Promiscuously Read is about the pleasures of reading and its power in shaping our internal lives. It advocates for a life of constant, disorderly, time-consuming reading, and encourages readers to trust in the value of the exhilaration and fascination such reading entails. Rather than arguing for the moral value of reading or the preeminence of literature as an aesthetic form, Books Promiscuously Read illustrates the irreplaceable experience of the self that reading provides for those inclined to do it.
Through three sections--Play, Transgression, and Insight--which focus on three ways of thinking about reading, Books Promiscuously Read moves among and considers many poems, novels, stories, and works of nonfiction. The prose is shot through with quotations reflecting the way readers think through the words of others.
Books Promiscuously Read is a tribute to the whole lives readers live in their books, and aims to recommit people to those lives. As White writes, "What matters is staying attuned to an ordinary, unflashy, mutely persistent miracle; that all the books to be read, and all the selves to be because we have read them, are still there, still waiting, still undiminished in their power. It is an astonishing joy."
- by LONELY PLANET
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Calling culture lovers: sample music, films and books from 120 countries without leaving your armchair. Perfect preparation for travellers or simply a satisfying journey into the unknown, this book lists the five most interesting books and movies from each country, plus its top ten tunes. Be introduced to Ethiopian jazz, French new wave cinema, Irish poetry and more. Discover a little of each countries' life and soul through each recommendation by Lonely Planet's experts as well as dedicated sections that dive deep into special topics that range from South Korean K-Pop to Belgian graphic novels.
About Lonely Planet:Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and phrasebooks for 120 languages, and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, videos, 14 languages, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more, enabling you to explore every day.
'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times
'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)
- by Mieko Kawakami
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From the bestselling author ofBreasts and Eggs and international literary sensation Mieko Kawakami, a sharp and illuminating novel about the impact of violence and the power of solidarity.
A bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami's novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormentors.
These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.
Heaven stands as a dazzling testament to Kawakami's literary talent. There can be little doubt that it has cemented her reputation as one of today's most important young authors working to expand the boundaries of contemporary Japanese literature.
ANew York Times, Washington Post, TIME, Oprah Daily, CNN, Bustle,andMs. Magazinemost anticipated book of the year.
A June 2021 Indie Next Pick
- by Alex Michaelides
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**THE INSTANTNEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLER**
"Alex Michaelides's long-awaited next novel, 'The Maidens,' is finally here...the premise is enticing and the elements irresistible."
--The New York Times
"A deliciously dark, elegant, utterly compulsive read--with a twist that blew my mind. I loved this even more than I lovedThe Silent Patient and that's saying something!"
--Lucy Foley,New York Timesbestselling author ofThe Guest List
From the #1New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements "Michaelides as a major player in the field" (Publishers Weekly).
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike--particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana's niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.
Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana's obsession with proving Fosca's guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything--including her own life.
- by Rivka Galchen
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The startling, witty, highly anticipated second novel from the critically acclaimed author of Atmospheric Disturbances.
The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading. The Thirty Years' War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch.
Katharina is an illiterate widow, known by her neighbors for her herbal remedies and the success of her children, including her eldest, Johannes, who is the Imperial Mathematician and renowned author of the laws of planetary motion. It's enough to make anyone jealous, and Katharina has done herself no favors by being out and about and in everyone's business.
So when the deranged and insipid Ursula Reinbold (or as Katharina calls her, the Werewolf) accuses Katharina of offering her a bitter, witchy drink that has made her ill, Katharina is in trouble. Her scientist son must turn his attention from the music of the spheres to the job of defending his mother. Facing the threat of financial ruin, torture, and even execution, Katharina tells her side of the story to her friend and next-door neighbor Simon, a reclusive widower imperiled by his own secrets.
Drawing on real historical documents but infused with the intensity of imagination, sly humor, and intellectual fire for which Rivka Galchen is known, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch will both provoke and entertain. The story of how a community becomes implicated in collective aggression and hysterical fear is a tale for our time. Galchen's bold new novel touchingly illuminates a society and a family undone by superstition, the state, and the mortal convulsions of history.
- by Cal Flyn
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A beautiful, lyrical exploration of the places where nature is flourishing in our absence
Some of the only truly feral cattle in the world wander a long-abandoned island off the northernmost tip of Scotland. A variety of wildlife not seen in many lifetimes has rebounded on the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl. A lush forest supports thousands of species that are extinct or endangered everywhere else on earth in the Korean peninsula's narrow DMZ.
Cal Flyn, an investigative journalist, exceptional nature writer, and promising new literary voice visits the eeriest and most desolate places on Earth that due to war, disaster, disease, or economic decay, have been abandoned by humans. What she finds every time is an "island" of teeming new life: nature has rushed in to fill the void faster and more thoroughly than even the most hopeful projections of scientists.
Islands of Abandonment is a tour through these new ecosystems, in all their glory, as sites of unexpected environmental significance, where the natural world has reasserted its wild power and promise. And while it doesn't let us off the hook for addressing environmental degradation and climate change, it is a case that hope is far from lost, and it is ultimately a story of redemption: the most polluted spots on Earth can be rehabilitated through ecological processes and, in fact, they already are.
- by Peter Wohlleben
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FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES
A powerful return to the forest, where trees have heartbeats and roots are like brains that extend underground. Where the color green calms us, and the forest sharpens our senses.
In The Heartbeat of Trees, renowned forester Peter Wohlleben draws on new scientific discoveries to show how humans are deeply connected to the natural world.In an era of cell phone addiction, climate change, and urban life, many of us fear we've lost our connection to nature--but Peter Wohlleben is convinced that age-old ties linking humans to the forest remain alive and intact.
Drawing on science and cutting-edge research, The Heartbeat of Trees reveals the profound interactions humans can have with nature, exploring:the language of the forestthe consciousness of plantsand the eroding boundary between flora and fauna. A perfect book to take with you into the woods, The Heartbeat of Trees shares how to see, feel, smell, hear, and even taste the forest.
Peter Wohlleben, renowned for his ability to write about trees in an engaging and moving way, reveals a wondrous cosmos where humans are a part of nature, and where conservation and environmental activism is not just about saving trees--it's about saving ourselves, too.
Praise for The Heartbeat of Trees
"As human beings, we're desperate to feel that we're not alone in the universe. And yet we are surrounded by an ongoing conversation that we can sense if, as Peter Wohlleben so movingly prescribes, we listen to the heartbeat of all life." --Richard Louv, author of Our Wild Calling and Last Child in the Woods
"Astonishment after astonishment--that is the great gift of The Heartbeat of Trees. It is both a celebration of the wonders of trees, and a howl of outrage at how recklessly we profane them." --Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Earth's Wild Music
"As Peter Wohlleben reminds us in The Heartbeat of Trees, trees are the vocabulary of nature as forests are the brainbank of a living planet. This was the codex of the ancient world, and it must be the fine focus of our future." --Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of To Speak for the Trees and The Global Forest
"Peter Wohlleben knows the battle that lies before us: forging a closer relationship with nature before we destroy it. In The Heartbeat of Trees he takes us deep into the global forest to show us how."--Jim Robbins, author of The Man Who Planted Trees
- by Fred Sasakamoose
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"Fred Sasakamoose played in the NHL before First Nations people had the right to vote in Canada. This page turner will have you cheering for 'Fast Freddy' as he faces off against huge challenges both on and off the ice--a great gift to every proud hockey fan, Canadian, and Indigenous person."
--Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP and author of The Reason You Walk
Trailblazer. Residential school Survivor. First Treaty Indigenous player in the NHL. All of these descriptions are true--but none of them tell the whole story.
Fred Sasakamoose, torn from his home at the age of seven, endured the horrors of residential school for a decade before becoming one of 120 players in the most elite hockey league in the world. He has been heralded as the first Indigenous player with Treaty status in the NHL, making his official debut as a 1954 Chicago Black Hawks player on Hockey Night in Canada and teaching Foster Hewitt how to pronounce his name. Sasakamoose played against such legends as Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Maurice Richard. After twelve games, he returned home.
When people tell Sasakamoose's story, this is usually where they end it. They say he left the NHL to return to the family and culture that the Canadian government had ripped away from him. That returning to his family and home was more important to him than an NHL career. But there was much more to his decision than that. Understanding Sasakamoose's choice means acknowledging the dislocation and treatment of generations of Indigenous peoples. It means considering how a man who spent his childhood as a ward of the government would hear those supposedly golden words: "You are Black Hawks property."
Sasakamoose's story was far from over once his NHL days concluded. He continued to play for another decade in leagues around Western Canada. He became a band councillor, served as Chief, and established athletic programs for kids. He paved a way for youth to find solace and meaning in sports for generations to come. Yet, threaded through these impressive accomplishments were periods of heartbreak and unimaginable tragedy--as well moments of passion and great joy.
This isn't just a hockey story; Sasakamoose's groundbreaking memoir sheds piercing light on Canadian history and Indigenous politics, and follows this extraordinary man's journey to reclaim pride in an identity and a heritage that had previously been used against him.
- by J.b. Mackinnon
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In a brilliant work of imaginative non-fiction, prize-winning author J.B. MacKinnon asks what would happen--to our economy, our ecology, our products, our selves--if we stopped consuming so much? Is that alternative world one we might actually want to live in?
"We can't stop shopping. And yet we must. This is the consumer dilemma."
The planet says we consume too much: in North America, we burn the earth's resources at a rate five times faster than they can regenerate. And despite our efforts to "green" our consumption--by recycling, increasing energy efficiency, or using solar power--we have yet to see a decline in global carbon emissions.
The economy says we must always consume more, because, as we've seen in the pandemic, even the slightest drop in spending leads to widespread unemployment, bankruptcy and home foreclosures.
Addressing this paradox head-on, J.B. MacKinnon asks, What would really happen if we simply stop shopping? Is there a way to reduce our consumption to earth-saving levels without triggering an economic collapse?
At first, this question took him around the world, seeking answers: from America's big-box stores, to the hunter-gatherer cultures of Namibia, to communities in Ecuador that consume at an exactly sustainable rate. Then his thought experiment came shockingly true, as the coronavirus brought shopping to a halt and MacKinnon's ideas were tested in real time.
Drawing on experts ranging from economists to climate scientists to corporate CEOs, MacKinnon investigates how living with less would change our planet, our society and ourselves. Along the way, he reveals just how much we stand to gain.
Imaginative and inspiring, The Day the World Stops Shopping will empower you to imagine another way.
- by Thomas King
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Jeremiah Camp, a.k.a. the Forecaster, can look into the heart of humanity and see the patterns that create opportunities and profits for the rich and powerful. Problem is, Camp has looked one too many times, has seen what he hadn't expected to see and has come away from the abyss with no hope for himself or for the future. So Jeremiah does what any intelligent, sensitive person would do. He runs away. Goes into hiding in a small town, at an old residential school on an even smaller Indian reserve, with no phone, no Internet, no television. With the windows shut, the door locked, the mailbox removed to discourage any connection with the world, he feels safe at last. Except nobody told the locals that they were to leave Jeremiah alone. And then his past comes calling. Ash Locken, head of the Locken Group, the multinational consortium that Jeremiah has fled, arrives on his doorstep with a simple proposition. She wants our hero to formulate one more forecast, and she's not about to take no for an answer. Before he left the Locken empire, Jeremiah had created a list of twelve names, every one a billionaire. The problem is, the people on the list are dying at an alarming and unnatural rate. And Ash Locken wants to know why. A sly and satirical look at the fractures in modern existence, Sufferance is a bold and provocative novel about the social and political consequences of the inequality created by privilege and power--and what we might do about it.
- by Olivia Laing
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"Astute and consistently surprising critic" (NPR) Olivia Laing investigates the body and its discontents through the great freedom movements of the twentieth century.
The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. In her ambitious, brilliant sixth book, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement. Drawing on her own experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and traveling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, Laing grapples with some of the most significant and complicated figures of the past century--among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag, and Malcolm X. Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as technologized and automated as our own. Arriving at a moment in which basic bodily rights are once again imperiled, Everybody is an investigation into the forces arranged against freedom and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world.
- by Maggie Shipstead
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"Relentlessly exciting ... My top recommendation for this summer." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER o LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE o A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK o The unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost--Great Circle "soars and dips with dizzying flair ... an expansive story that covers more than a century and seems to encapsulate the whole wide world" (Boston Globe).
"A masterpiece ... One of the best books I've ever read." --J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There--after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes--Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.
A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates--and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times--collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.