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 to see our highlights, or look for What To Read displays inside our bookstores.
- by Aaron Harowitz
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Caesar Country is a love letter to Canada by way of one cocktail--our cocktail--the Caesar.
In this stunning book, Aaron Harowitz and Zack Silverman--co-founders of Walter Craft Caesar--take you on a deep and detailed dive through the art and science of Caesar making. They share a compelling collection of cocktail and food recipes, including contributions from some of Canada's top bartenders and chefs, showcasing the countless ways to reinterpret the classic Caesar. Caesar Country is inspired by travels across Canada--the people met, places seen, drinks enjoyed--and seamlessly weaves together the Caesar's history, evolution,and the innovators behind it, to create a visual and culinary celebration of the country it calls home.
- by Robyn Maynard
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A revolutionary collaboration about the world we're living in now, between two of our most important contemporary thinkers, writers and activists.
When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters--a gesture sparked by a desire for kinship and connection in a world shattering under the intersecting crises of pandemic, police killings, and climate catastrophe. These letters soon grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here.
Rehearsals for Living is a captivating and visionary work--part debate, part dialogue, part lively and detailed familial correspondence between two razor-sharp writers. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, and reiterating the long-disavowed histories of slavery and colonization that have brought us to this moment, Maynard and Simpson create something new: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.
- by Ottessa Moshfegh
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"Lapvona flips all the conventions of familial and parental relations, putting hatred where love should be or a negotiation where grief should be . . . Through a mix of witchery, deception, murder, abuse, grand delusion, ludicrous conversations, and cringeworthy moments of bodily disgust, Moshfegh creates a world that you definitely don't want to live in, but from which you can't look away." --The Atlantic
In a village in a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, a motherless shepherd boy finds himself the unlikely pivot of a power struggle that puts all manner of faith to a savage test, in a spellbinding novel that represents Ottessa Moshfegh's most exciting leap yet
Little Marek, the abused and delusional son of the village shepherd, never knew his mother; his father told him she died in childbirth. One of life's few consolations for Marek is his enduring bond with the blind village midwife, Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby, as she did so many of the village's children. Ina's gifts extend beyond childcare: she possesses a unique ability to communicate with the natural world. Her gift often brings her the transmission of sacred knowledge on levels far beyond those available to other villagers, however religious they might be. For some people, Ina's home in the woods outside of the village is a place to fear and to avoid, a godless place.
Among their number is Father Barnabas, the town priest and lackey for the depraved lord and governor, Villiam, whose hilltop manor contains a secret embarrassment of riches. The people's desperate need to believe that there are powers that be who have their best interests at heart is put to a cruel test by Villiam and the priest, especially in this year of record drought and famine. But when fate brings Marek into violent proximity to the lord's family, new and occult forces upset the old order. By year's end, the veil between blindness and sight, life and death, the natural world and the spirit world, will prove to be very thin indeed.
- by Valerie Perrin
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A June 2022 Indie Next List Pick From the international bestselling author of Fresh Water for Flowers, a beautifully told and suspenseful story about the ties that bind us and the choices that make us who we are. 1986: Adrien, Etienne and Nina are 10 years old when they meet at school and quickly become inseparable. They promise each other they will one day leave their provincial backwater, move to Paris, and never part. 2017: A car is pulled up from the bottom of the lake, a body inside. Virginie, a local journalist with an enigmatic past reports on the case while also reflecting on the relationship between the three friends, who were unusually close when younger but now no longer speak. . As Virginie moves closer to the surprising truth, relationships fray and others are formed. Valérie Perrin has an unerring gift for delving into life. In Three, she brings readers along with her through a sequence of heart-wrenching events and revelations that span three decades. Three tells a moving story of love and loss, hope and grief, friendship and adversity, and of time as an ineluctable agent of change.
- by Carlo Rovelli
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A delightful intellectual feast from the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time
One of the world's most prominent physicists and fearless free spirit, Carlo Rovelli is also a masterful storyteller. His bestselling books have introduced millions of readers to the wonders of modern physics and his singular perspective on the cosmos. This new collection of essays reveals a curious intellect always on the move. Rovelli invites us on an accessible and enlightening voyage through science, literature, philosophy, and politics.
Written with his usual clarity and wit, this journey ranges widely across time and space: from Newton's alchemy to Einstein's mistakes, from Nabokov's lepidopterology to Dante's cosmology, from mind-altering psychedelic substances to the meaning of atheism, from the future of physics to the power of uncertainty. Charming, pithy, and elegant, this book is the perfect gateway to the universe of one of the most influential minds of our age.
- by Mieko Kawakami
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A MAY 2022 INDIE NEXT PICK A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2022 Bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami invites readers back into her immediately recognizable fictional world with this new, extraordinary novel and demonstrates yet again why she is one of today's most uncategorizable, insightful, and talented novelists. Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyuko stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it. As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko's past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it. "In the skilled hands of Bett and Boyd, Kawakami's prose is instantly recognizable--immediate, incisive, and unfailingly honest."--Katie Kitamura, Entertainment Weekly (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)
- by Vaclav Smil
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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A new masterpiece from one of my favorite authors... [How The World Really Works] is a compelling and highly readable book that leaves readers with the fundamental grounding needed to help solve the world's toughest challenges."--Bill Gates
"Provocative but perceptive . . . You can agree or disagree with Smil--accept or doubt his 'just the facts' posture--but you probably shouldn't ignore him."--The Washington Post
An essential analysis of the modern science and technology that makes our twenty-first century lives possible--a scientist's investigation into what science really does, and does not, accomplish.
We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us don't know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality check--because before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts.
In this ambitious and thought-provoking book we see, for example, that globalization isn't inevitable--the foolishness of allowing 70 per cent of the world's rubber gloves to be made in just one factory became glaringly obvious in 2020--and that our societies have been steadily increasing their dependence on fossil fuels, such that any promises of decarbonization by 2050 are a fairy tale. For example, each greenhouse-grown supermarket-bought tomato has the equivalent of five tablespoons of diesel embedded in its production, and we have no way of producing steel, cement or plastics at required scales without huge carbon emissions.
Ultimately, Smil answers the most profound question of our age: are we irrevocably doomed or is a brighter utopia ahead? Compelling, data-rich and revisionist, this wonderfully broad, interdisciplinary guide finds faults with both extremes. Looking at the world through this quantitative lens reveals hidden truths that change the way we see our past, present and uncertain future.
- by Hernan Diaz
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"Buzzy and enthralling ...A glorious novel about empires and erasures, husbands and wives, staggering fortunes and unspeakable misery...Fun as hell to read." --Oprah Daily
"A genre-bending, time-skipping story about New York City's elite in the roaring '20s and Great Depression."--Vanity Fair
"A riveting story of class, capitalism, and greed." --Esquire
"Exhilarating." --New York Times
An unparalleled novel about money, power, intimacy, and perception
Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth--all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.
Hernan Diaz's TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another--and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.
At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.
- by Shyam Selvadurai
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From the bestselling, award-winning author of Funny Boy and The Hungry Ghosts comes a breathtaking reimagining of ancient India through the extraordinary life of Yasodhara, the woman who married the Buddha.
In this sweeping tale, at once epic and intimate, Shyam Selvadurai introduces us to Siddhartha Gautama--who will later become "the enlightened one," or the Buddha--an unusually bright and politically astute young man settling into his upper-caste life as a newlywed to Yasodhara, a woman of great intelligence and spirit. Mansions of the Moon traces the couple's early love and life together, and then the anguished turmoil that descends upon them both as Siddhartha's spiritual calling takes over and the marriage partnership slowly, inexorably crumbles. Eventually, Yasodhara is forced to ask what kind of life a woman can lead in ancient India if her husband abandons her--even a well-born woman such as herself. And is there a path she, too, might take towards enlightenment?
Award-winning writer Shyam Selvadurai examines these questions with empathy and insight, creating a vivid portrait of a fascinating time and place, the intricate web of power, family and relationships that surround a singular marriage, and the remarkable woman who until now has remained a little-understood shadow in the historical record. Mansions of the Moon is an immersive, lively and thrilling feat of literary imagination.
- by Margaret Sweatman
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1971. Lilac Welsh lives an isolated life with her parents at Rough Rock on the Winnipeg River. Her father, Kal, stern and controlling, has built his wealth by designing powerful guns and ammunition. He's on the cusp of producing a .50 calibre assault rifle that can shoot down an airplane with a single bullet, when a young stranger named Gavin appears at their door, wanting to meet him before enlisting for the war in Vietnam. Gavin's arrival sparks an emotional explosion in Lilac's home and inspires her to begin her own life as a journalist, reporting on the war that's making her family rich.
The Gunsmith's Daughter is both a coming-of-age story and an allegorical novel about Canada-US relations. Psychologically and politically astute, and gorgeously written, Margaret Sweatman's portrait of a brilliant gunsmith and his eighteen-year-old daughter tells an engrossing story of ruthless ambition, and one young woman's journey toward independence.
- by Jennifer Egan
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Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Glamour, USA TODAY, Parade, Bustle, San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times, BuzzFeed, and Vulture
"A compelling read that showcases Egan's masterful storytelling." --Time
"Radiant, exhilarating." --Slate
"Mesmerizing...A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change." --People
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an "inventive, effervescent" (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is "one of those tech demi-gods with whom we're all on a first name basis." Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or "externalizing" memory. Within a decade, Bix's new technology, "Own Your Unconscious"--which allows you access to every memory you've ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others--has seduced multitudes.
In the world of Egan's spectacular imagination, there are "counters" who track and exploit desires and there are "eluders," those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles--from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.
"A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history" (San Francisco Chronicle), "this is minimalist maximalism. It's as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive" (The New York Times).
- by Brian Goldman
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New from the bestselling author of The Power Kindness and host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art
In the high-pressure and complex setting of healthcare, a new approach to teamwork is leading to healthier patients, happier staff and more efficient operations. Healthcare's embrace of a new teamwork model has been noticed by people outside the medical world, so doctors are going outside the walls of the hospital to teach manufacturers, business owners, franchisees, customer service representatives and even those in sports and entertainment to do better by shifting the culture from "me" to "we."
Drawing on groundbreaking research and examples from around the world, The Power of Teamwork shows how a team approach to medicine can improve customer service and help women break the glass ceiling. It can solidify the provision of social services to troubled youth, and boost the efficiency and safety of the military and critical industrial complexes like nuclear power plants. It can even make professional sports teams perform better.
- by Emily S.j. Mandel
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THE NEW YORK TIMES and TORONTO STAR BESTSELLER
From the #1 bestselling author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted The Glass Hotel and the internationally bestselling Station Eleven comes a new novel of dazzling imagination
In this captivating tale of imagination and ambition, a seemingly disparate array of people come into contact with a time traveller who must resist the pull to change the past and the future. The cast includes a British exile on the West coast of Canada in the early 1900s; the author of a bestselling novel about a fictional pandemic who embarks on a galaxy-spanning book tour during the outbreak of an actual pandemic; a resident of a moon colony almost 300 years in the future; and a lonely girl who films an old-growth forest and experiences a disruption in the recording. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, Emily St. John Mandel's dazzling story follows these engrossing characters across space and time as their lives ultimately intersect.
Sea of Tranquility is a breathtaking and wondrous examination of the ties that bind us together, by a master storyteller.
- by Douglas Stuart
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#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
"Young Mungo seals it: Douglas Stuart is a genius." --The Washington Post
From the Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men.
Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow's housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they're to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the dovecote that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.
But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo's mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism, Douglas Stuart's Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
- by Natalie Haynes
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to, and how they sometimes made idiots of . . . but read on!"--Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale
The national bestselling author of A Thousand Ships returns with a fascinating, eye-opening take on the remarkable women at the heart of classical stories Greek mythology from Helen of Troy to Pandora and the Amazons to Medea.
The tellers of Greek myths--historically men--have routinely sidelined the female characters. When they do take a larger role, women are often portrayed as monstrous, vengeful or just plain evil--like Pandora, the woman of eternal scorn and damnation whose curiosity is tasked with causing all the world's suffering and wickedness when she opened that forbidden box. But, as Natalie Haynes reveals, in ancient Greek myths there was no box. It was a jar . . . which is far more likely to tip over.
In Pandora's Jar, the broadcaster, writer, stand-up comedian, and passionate classicist turns the tables, putting the women of the Greek myths on an equal footing with the men. With wit, humor, and savvy, Haynes revolutionizes our understanding of epic poems, stories, and plays, resurrecting them from a woman's perspective and tracing the origins of their mythic female characters. She looks at women such as Jocasta, Oedipus' mother-turned-lover-and-wife (turned Freudian sticking point), at once the cleverest person in the story and yet often unnoticed. She considers Helen of Troy, whose marriage to Paris "caused" the Trojan war--a somewhat uneven response to her decision to leave her husband for another man. She demonstrates how the vilified Medea was like an ancient Beyonce--getting her revenge on the man who hurt and betrayed her, if by extreme measures. And she turns her eye to Medusa, the original monstered woman, whose stare turned men to stone, but who wasn't always a monster, and had her hair turned to snakes as punishment for being raped.
Pandora's Jar brings nuance and care to the millennia-old myths and legends and asks the question: Why are we so quick to villainize these women in the first place--and so eager to accept the stories we've been told?