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 FMís 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.
$36.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $33.26
From the bestselling, Giller Prize-winning author of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures comes an exquisitely crafted novel, piercing in its urgency and breathtaking in its intimacy, about the devastating experience of addiction.
In his downtown Toronto condo, Dr. Chen awakens to the sound of streetcars below, but it is not the early morning traffic that keeps him from sleep. News banners run across his phone: Fentanyl Crisis; Toxic Drug Supply; Record Number of Deaths. From behind the headlines, on the same screen, glow the faces of his patients, the faces of the what-ifs: What if he had done more, or less? Or something different? Would they still be alive?
Claire is a violinist; she feels at one with her music, taking flight in its melody, free in its movement. But now she rises and falls with the opioids in her system, becoming increasingly reckless. After two overdoses in twenty-four hours, she sits in the blue light of her computer, searching a notice board for recommendations: my doctor saved my life; my doctor is just another dealer. And then another message catches her attention, about Chen's clinic: be a guinea pig--why not get paid to take it?
When Claire's life intersects with Chen's, the doctor is drawn ever more deeply into the complexities of the doctor-patient relationship, the implication and meaning of his intention to treat. Chen must confront just how far he would go to save a life.
Combining the depth of his experience as a physician with the brilliance of his literary talent, Vincent Lam creates a world electric in its precision, radiant in its detail. On the Ravine is a gripping novel of profound emotional force, a soaring achievement from a singular voice in Canadian fiction.
$42.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $37.80
The remarkable story of the intrepid French archaeologist who led the international effort to save ancient Egyptian temples from the floodwaters of the Aswan Dam, by the New York Times bestselling author of Madame Fourcade's Secret War
In the 1960s, the world's attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: Fifty countries contributed nearly a billion dollars to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples, built during the height of the pharaohs' rule, from drowning in the floodwaters of the massive new Aswan High Dam. But the extensive press coverage at the time overlooked the gutsy French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples would now be at the bottom of a vast reservoir. It was an unimaginably large and complex project that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt on higher ground.
A willful real-life version of Indiana Jones, Desroches-Noblecourt refused to be cowed by anyone or anything. During World War II she joined the French Resistance and was held by the Nazis; in her fight to save the temples she challenged two of the postwar world's most daunting leaders, Egypt's President Nasser and France's President de Gaulle. As she told a reporter, "You don't get anywhere without a fight, you know."
Yet Desroches-Noblecourt was not the only woman who played an essential role in the historic endeavor. The other was Jacqueline Kennedy, who persuaded her husband to call on Congress to help fund the rescue effort. After years of Western plunder of Egypt's ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt did the opposite. She helped preserve a crucial part of Egypt's cultural heritage, and made sure it remained in its homeland.
$47.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $42.30
In Culture, acclaimed author, professor, and public intellectual Martin Puchner takes us on a breakneck tour through pivotal moments in world history, providing a global introduction to the arts and humanities in one engaging volume.
What good are the arts? Why should we care about the past? For millennia, humanity has sought to understand and transmit to future generations not just the "know-how" of life, but the "know-why"--the meaning and purpose of our existence, as expressed in art, architecture, religion, and philosophy. This crucial passing down of knowledge has required the radical integration of insights from the past and from other cultures. In Culture, acclaimed author, professor, and public intellectual Martin Puchner takes us on a breakneck tour through pivotal moments in world history, providing a global introduction to the arts and humanities in one engaging volume. From Nefertiti's lost city to the plays of Wole Soyinka; from the theaters of ancient Greece to Chinese travel journals to Arab and Aztec libraries; from a South Asian statuette found at Pompeii to a time capsule left behind on the Moon, Puchner tells the gripping story of human achievement through our collective losses and rediscoveries, power plays and heroic journeys, innovations, imitations, and appropriations. More than a work of history, Culture is an archive of humanity's most monumental junctures and a guidebook for the future of us humans as a creative species. Witty, erudite, and full of wonder, Puchner argues that the humanities are (and always have been) essential to the transmission of knowledge that drives the efforts of human civilization.
$39.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $35.96
From the best-selling author of Star of the Sea, a WWII-era "great escape" novel set in the Vatican September 1943: German forces occupy Rome. Gestapo boss Obersturmbannführer Paul Hauptmann rules with terror. Hunger is widespread. Rumors fester. The war's outcome is far from certain. Diplomats, refugees, and escaped Allied prisoners flee for protection into Vatican City, at one fifth of a square mile the world's smallest state, a neutral, independent country within Rome. A small band of unlikely friends led by a courageous Irish priest is drawn into deadly danger as they seek to help those seeking refuge. Book 1 in the Rome Escape Line Trilogy, My Father's House is a powerful, heartbreaking literary thriller based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, who risked his life to smuggle thousands of Jews and escaped Allied prisoners out of Italy under the nose of his Nazi nemesis. A deadly high-stakes battle of wits ensues in this astonishing, unforgettable story of love, faith and sacrifice, exploring what it means to be truly human in the most extreme circumstances.
$23.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $21.59
From the author of Canada Reads finalist Scarborough, a stunning new novel about the unbreakable bond of family and the magic that can happen when we meet in the middle
Like many Overseas Filipino Workers, Mary Grace Concepcion has lived a life of sacrifices. First, she left her husband, Ale, to be a caregiver in Hong Kong. Now, she has travelled even farther, to Canada, in the hopes of one day sponsoring Ale and having children of their own.
But when she arrives in Toronto, she must navigate a series of bewildering and careless employers and unruly children. Mary Grace seeks new employment as a Personal Support Worker and begins caring for Liz, an elderly patient suffering from Alzheimer's disease, whose health is as fragile as her rundown bungalow beside the Rouge River in Scarborough. While Mary Grace's time with her charge challenges her conservative beliefs, she soon becomes Liz's biggest ally, and the friendship that grows between them will turn out to be just as legendary as Liz's past.
Beautifully narrated by the all-seeing eye of Mary Grace's newborn baby, The Story of Us is a novel about sisterhood, about blood and chosen family, and about how belonging can be found where we least expect it.
$36.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $33.26
An enchanting new standalone novel from CWA Dagger winner Colin Cotterill, set in Bangkok: a mystery without a crime, where the line between fact and fiction blurs, and nothing is as simple as it appears
Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Mail service, hates his job. The only bright spot in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema--until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali's store.
Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a near-future Thailand--and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it's the most brilliant Thai movie they've ever seen. But nobody else has ever heard of the movie, the director, the actors, or any of the crew. Who would make a movie like this and not release it, and why?
Feeling a powerful calling to solve the mystery of Bangkok 2010, Supot journeys deep into the Thai countryside and discovers that powerful people are dead set on keeping the film buried.
$36.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $33.26
From literary powerhouse Aleksandar Hemon, author of The Lazarus Project, comes a big, brilliant, sweeping novel of love, memory, and history-in-the-making.
As the Archduke Franz Ferdinand arrives in Sarajevo on a sunny June day in 1914, Rafael Pinto is busy crushing herbs and grinding tablets behind the counter at the pharmacy he inherited from his estimable father. It's not quite the life he had expected during his poetry -filled student days in sophisticated, libertine Vienna--but it's nothing a dash of laudanum from the high shelf, a summer stroll, and idle fantasies about passersby can't help.
And then the world explodes. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions and affection of Osman, a fellow soldier, a man of action to complement Pinto's introspective, poetic soul; a dapper, charismatic storyteller; Pinto's protector and his lover.
Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches, survive near-certain death and imprisonment, tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, from one world to another, it is Pinto's love for Osman--with the occasional opiatic interlude--that keeps him going.
The World and All That It Holds--in all its hilarious, heartbreaking, erotic, whimsical, philosophical glory--showcases Hemon's celebrated talent at its pinnacle and cements him as one of the boldest voices of our time.
$23.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $21.59
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
"Sparkling." --The New York Times
"An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys--and the guilt--of trying to find your own way in life." --Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Our Missing Hearts
"Lively, funny, poignant . . . Prepare to fall in love with Maddie. I did!" --Bonnie Garmus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry
Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.
It's fair to say that Maddie's life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson's. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she's ready to experience some important "firsts": She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it's not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils--and rewards--of putting her heart on the line.
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George's Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and culturesâEURoand it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
"Meeting Maame feels like falling in love for the first time: warm, awkward, joyous, a little bit heartbreaking and, most of all, unforgettable." --Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming
$36.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $33.29
WINNER OF THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE
A playful, feminist, and utterly original epic set in contemporary northern India, about a family and the inimitable octogenarian matriarch at its heart.
"A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you've got women and a border, a story can write itself . . ."
Eighty-year-old Ma slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband. Despite her family's cajoling, she refuses to leave her bed. Her responsible eldest son, Bade, and dutiful, Reebok-sporting daughter-in-law, Bahu, attend to Ma's every need, while her favorite grandson, the cheerful and gregarious Sid, tries to lift her spirits with his guitar. But it is only after Sid's younger brother--Serious Son, a young man pathologically incapable of laughing--brings his grandmother a sparkling golden cane covered with butterflies that things begin to change.
With a new lease on life thanks to the cane's seemingly magical powers, Ma gets out of bed and embarks on a series of adventures that baffle even her unconventional feminist daughter, Beti. She ditches her cumbersome saris, develops a close friendship with a hijra, and sets off on a fateful journey that will turn the family's understanding of themselves upside down.
Rich with fantastical elements, folklore, and exuberant wordplay, Geetanjali Shree's magnificent novel explores timely and timeless topics, including Buddhism, global warming, feminism, Partition, gender binary, transcending borders, and the profound joys of life. Elegant, heartbreaking, and funny, it is a literary masterpiece that marks the American debut of an extraordinary writer.
Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell
Author's name pronounced: Ghee-TAHN-juh-lee Shree
$24.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $22.49
A haunting debut novel where dreams, family and spirits collide
Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8.
Mackenzie continues to accidentally bring back items from her dreams, dreams that are eerily similar to real memories of her older sister and Kokum before their untimely deaths. As Mackenzie's life spirals into a living nightmare--crows are following her around and she's getting texts from her dead sister on the other side--it becomes clear that these dreams have terrifying, real-life consequences. Desperate for help, Mackenzie returns to her mother, sister, cousin, and aunties in her small Alberta hometown. Together, they try to uncover what is haunting Mackenzie before something irrevocable happens to anyone else around her.
Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice.
$32.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $29.66
From the #1 bestselling author of 'Indian' in the Cabinet, a groundbreaking and accessible roadmap to advancing true reconciliation across Canada.
There is one question Canadians have asked Jody Wilson-Raybould more than any other: What can I do to help advance reconciliation? It is clear that people from all over the country want to take concrete and tangible action that will make real change. We just need to know how to get started. This book provides that next step. For Wilson-Raybould, what individuals and organizations need to do to advance true reconciliation is self-evident, accessible, and achievable. True Reconciliation is broken down into three core practices--Learn, Understand, and Act--that can be applied by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.
The practices are based not only on the historical and contemporary experience of Indigenous peoples in their relentless efforts to effect transformative change and decolonization, but also on the deep understanding and expertise about what has been effective in the past, what we are doing right, and wrong, today, and what our collective future requires. Fundamental to a shared way of thinking is an understanding of the Indigenous experience throughout the story of Canada. In a manner that reflects how work is done in the Big House, True Reconciliation features an "oral" history of these lands, told through Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices from our past and present.
The ultimate and attainable goal of True Reconciliation is to break down the silos we've created that prevent meaningful change, to be empowered to increasingly act as "inbetweeners," and to take full advantage of this moment in our history to positively transform the country into a place we can all be proud of.
$34.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $30.60
For the first time in depth and in public, Olympic soccer gold-medalist Christine Sinclair, the top international goal scorer of all time and one of Canada's greatest athletes, reflects on both her exhilarating successes and her heartbreaking failures. Playing the Long Game is a book of earned wisdom on the value of determination and team spirit, and on leadership that changed the landscape of women's sport.
Christine Sinclair is one of the world's most respected and admired athletes. Not only is she the player who has scored the most goals on the international soccer stage, male or female, but more than two decades into her career, she is the heart of any team she plays on, the captain of both Canada's national team and the top-ranked Portland Thorns FC in the National Women's Soccer League.
Working with the brilliant and bestselling sportswriter Stephen Brunt, who has followed her career for decades, the intensely private Sinclair will share her reflections on the significant moments and turning points in her life and career, the big wins and losses survived, not only on the pitch. Her extraordinary journey, combined with her candour, commitment and decency, will inspire and empower her fans and admirers, and girls and women everywhere.
$55.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $49.50
The Philosophy of Modern Song is Bob Dylan's first book of new writing since 2004's Chronicles: Volume One--and since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.
Dylan, who began working on the book in 2010, offers his extraordinary insight into the nature of popular music. He writes over sixty essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal. These essays are written in Dylan's unique prose. They are mysterious and mercurial, poignant and profound, and often laugh-out-loud funny. And while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition. Running throughout the book are nearly 150 carefully curated photos as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem and add to the work's transcendence.
In 2020, with the release of his outstanding album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan became the first artist to have an album hit the Billboard Top 40 in each decade since the 1960s. The Philosophy of Modern Song contains much of what he has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that Dylan does, it is a momentous artistic achievement.
$41.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $36.90
From the Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of How to Be an Artist: a deliciously readable survey of the art world in turbulent times
Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists, and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary readers to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, "the art critic."
Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points--from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today--Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz's eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers like Kara Walker, David Wojnarowicz, Hilma af Klint, and Jasper Johns; provocateurs like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Marina Abramovi?; and visionaries like Jackson Pollock, Bill Traylor, and Willem de Kooning. Saltz celebrates landmarks like the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, writes searchingly about disturbing moments such as the Ankara gallery assassination, and offers surprising takes on figures from Thomas Kinkade to Kim Kardashian. And he shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a "failed artist," and his epiphanies upon beholding work by Botticelli, Delacroix, and the cave painters of Niaux.
With his signature blend of candor and conviction, Jerry Saltz argues in Art Is Life for the importance of the fearless artist--reminding us that art is a kind of channeled voice of human experience, a necessary window onto our times. The result is an openhearted and irresistibly readable appraisal by one of our most important cultural observers.
$22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80
A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising
The protagonist of Percival Everett's puckish new novel is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means "nothing" in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for "nothing.") He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he'll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks.
With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill's desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, "Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it's time we gave nothing back."
Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn't to say that it's not about anything. In fact, it's about villains. Bond villains. And that's not nothing.