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 Kazuo Ishiguro
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The magnificent new novel from Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro--author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day.
"The Sun always has ways to reach us."
From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
- 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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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK
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
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.
- by Brian Castner
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A gripping and wholly original account of the epic human tragedy that was the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98. One hundred thousand men and women rushed heedlessly north to make their fortunes; very few did, but many thousands of them (and their pack animals) died in the attempt.
The electrifying announcement in 1897 that gold was to be found in wildly enriching quantities in the Klondike River region in remote Alaska was demonically well-timed to attract an exodus of economically desperate Americans. Within weeks, tens of thousands of them were embarking from western ports to throw themselves at some of the harshest terrain on the planet--in winter, yet--woefully unprepared, with no experience at all in mining or mountaineering. It was a mass delusion that quickly proved deadly. Brian Castner tells the unvarnished yet always striking and often amazing truth of this greed-fuelled migration.
- by Ross King
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Award-winning and bestselling author Ross King is back with another rich, gripping history--a story of rivalry, new technology and the finest illuminated manuscripts known to history, all set against a Renaissance Florence backdrop.
Against the endlessly rich and fascinating backdrop of Renaissance Florence, The Bookseller of Florence brings to light an extraordinary story about the city and its culture--that of Vespasiano da Bisticci, the "king of the world's booksellers," Florence's most indispensable and prolific merchant of knowledge. His bookshop in the heart of Florence was a gathering place for the city's most prominent poets and philosophers, and it was there that Vespasiano and his team of scribes created beautiful illuminated manuscripts for their clients, a cast of powerful popes and wealthy European princes.
But in 1476, as Vespasiano began working on one of his most famed and gorgeous works, the Urbino Bible, the printing press came to Florence and threatened his life's work. The Bookseller of Florence tells the story of the people at the forefront of the world's greatest cultural and technological revolution. It explores the clash between old and new and the way it can produce an explosion of fresh ideas, and is the definitive tome on one of the world's most transformative moments in time.
- by Paula Mclain
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes an atmospheric novel of intertwined fate and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?
Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When unspeakable tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino. She spent summers there as a child with her beloved grandparents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her to heal. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. Anna is in no condition to become involved with the search--until a childhood friend, now the village sheriff, pleads for her help.
Then, just days later, a twelve-year-old girl is abducted from her home. The crimes feel frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna's childhood, when a string of unsolved murders touched Mendocino. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with these missing girls, she must learn that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.
Weaving together true crime, trauma theory and a hint of the metaphysical, this tense, affecting story is about fate, unlikely redemption and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives--and our faith in one another.
- by Jon Dunn
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An acclaimed natural history writer follows the trail of the remarkable hummingbird all over the world.
Hummingbirds are a glittering, sparkling collective of over three hundred wildly variable species. For centuries, they have been revered by indigenous Americans, coveted by European collectors, and admired worldwide for their unsurpassed metallic plumage and immense character. Yet they exist on a knife-edge, fighting for survival in boreal woodlands, dripping cloud forests, and subpolar islands. They are, perhaps, the ultimate embodiment of evolution's power to carve a niche for a delicate creature in even the harshest of places.
Traveling the full length of the hummingbirds' range, from the cusp of the Arctic Circle to near-Antarctic islands, acclaimed nature writer Jon Dunn encounters birders, scientists, and storytellers in his quest to find these beguiling creatures, immersing us in the world of one of Earth's most charismatic bird families.
- by Helen Oyeyemi
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The prize-winning, bestselling author of Gingerbread; Boy, Snow, Bird; and What is Not Yours is Not Yours returns with a vivid and inventive new novel about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage.
When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment--and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favourite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.
A spellbinding tale from a star author, Peaces is about what it means to be seen by another person--whether it's your lover or a stranger on a train--and what happens when things you thought were firmly in the past turn out to be right beside you.
- by Darrel J. Mcleod
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Mamaskatch, Darrel J. McLeod's 2018 memoir of growing up Cree in Northern Alberta, was a publishing sensation--winning the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction, shortlisted for many other major prizes and translated into French and German editions. In Peyakow, McLeod continues the poignant story of his impoverished youth, beset by constant fears of being dragged down by the self-destruction and deaths of those closest to him as he battles the bullying of white classmates, copes with the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, and endures painful separation from his family and culture. With steely determination, he triumphs: now elementary teacher; now school principal; now head of an Indigenous delegation to the UN in Geneva; now executive in the Government of Canada--and now a celebrated author. Brutally frank but buoyed throughout by McLeod's unquenchable spirit, Peyakow--a title borrowed from the Cree word for "one who walks alone"--is an inspiring account of triumph against unimaginable odds. McLeod's perspective as someone whose career path has crossed both sides of the Indigenous/white chasm resonates with particular force in today's Canada.
- by Walter Isaacson
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The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.
When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn't become scientists, she decided she would.
Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book's author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.
The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.
Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm...Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?
After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.
- by Eden Robinson
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In the third book of her brilliant and captivating Trickster Trilogy, Eden Robinson delivers an explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution.
All Jared Martin had ever wanted was to be normal, which was already hard enough when he had to cope with Maggie, his hard-partying, gun-toting, literal witch of a mother, Indigenous teen life and his own addictions. When he wakes up naked, dangerously dehydrated and confused in the basement of his mom's old house in Kitimat, some of the people he loves--the ones who don't see the magic he attracts--just think he fell off the wagon after a tough year of sobriety. The truth for Jared is so much worse.
He finally knows for sure that he is the only one of his bio dad Wee'git's 535 children who is a Trickster too, a shapeshifter with a free pass to other dimensions. Sarah, his ex, is happy he's a magical being, but everyone else he loves is either pissed with him, or in mortal danger from the dark forces he's accidentally unleashed, or both. The scariest of those dark forces is his Aunt Georgina, a maniacal ogress hungry for his power, who has sent her posse of flesh-eating coy-wolves to track him down.
Even though his mother resents like hell that Jared has taken after his dad, she is also determined that no one is going to hurt her son. For Maggie it's simple--Kill or be killed, bucko. Soon Jared is at the centre of an all-out war--a horrifying place to be for the universe's sweetest Trickster, whose first instinct is not mischief and mind games but to make the world a kinder, safer, place.
- by Viet Thanh Nguyen
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The sequel toThe Sympathizer, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and went on to sell over a million copies worldwide,The Committed tells the story of "the man of two minds" as he comes as a refugee to France and turns his hand to capitalismThe long-awaited follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winningThe Sympathizer, which has sold more than one million copies worldwide,The Committed follows the man of two minds as he arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his blood brother Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese "aunt," he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotic merchandise. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition. The Sympathizer will need all his wits, resourcefulness, and moral flexibility if he is to prevail.
Both highly suspenseful and existential,The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen's position in the firmament of American letters.