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Summer Reading

Every summer has a story, and it's time to find yours with these great paperback books from Penguin Random House.


Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

- by Deepa Anappara

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Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel
Shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction
A New York Times Editors' Choice and Notable Book of 2020
One of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020

"Warning: if you begin reading the book in the morning, don't expect to get anything done for the rest of the day." --New York Times

Three children venture into the darkest corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate, in a stunningly original debut novel--based on a true story.


Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality police shows, thinks he's smarter than his friend Pari (even though she gets the best grades), and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and their fears of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again. At times exuberant, at times heartbreaking, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line traces the unfolding of a tragedy while capturing the fierce warmth and resilience of a community forged in times of trouble.

Midnight's Children

- by Salman Rushdie

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Winner of the1981 Booker Prize for Fiction.

Saleem Sinai was born at midnight, the midnight of India's independence, and finds himself mysteriously 'handcuffed to history' by the coincidence. He is one of 1,001 children born at the midnight hour, each of them endowed with an extraordinary talent -- and whose privilege and curse it is to be both master and victims of their times. Through Saleem's gifts -- inner voices and a wildly sensitive sense of smell -- we are drawn into a fascinating family saga set against the vast, colourful background of the India of this century.

Greenwood

- by Michael Christie

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WINNER OF THE ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A CBC BOOKS "BEST CANADIAN FICTION" TITLE OF THE YEAR
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.


They come for the trees. It's 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and rapacious timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie's effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.

Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.

The Lies That Bind

- by Emily Giffin

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In this engrossing new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed and All We Ever Wanted, a young woman falls hard for an impossibly perfect man before he disappears without a trace. . . .


It's 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar on New York's East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she'll ever make it as a reporter in the big city--and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with Matthew, her longtime boyfriend.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, "Don't do it--you'll regret it." Something tells her to listen to him, and over the next several hours--and a few shots--she and Grant forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn't be worse--Grant is preparing to take leave from his job and travel overseas. Yet despite all the obstacles, they can't seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant goes missing in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a poster and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up quickly: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn't what he seemed to be?

The Lies That Bind is a mesmerizing and emotionally resonant exploration of the never-ending search for love and truth--in our careers, our relationships, and deep within our own hearts.

Forest Green

- by Kate Pullinger

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For readers of Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler, a powerful, heartrending novel about a man on the run from himself, by Governor General's Award-winning author Kate Pullinger.

Arthur Lunn is a golden boy who spends long summer days roaming the hills and swimming in the lakes of the Okanagan Valley. But the Great Depression is destroying lives, even in Art's remote and bucolic hometown. Soon, Art finds himself caught up in a battle between the town and the vagrants flowing through it, and before long the tension reaches a boiling point.

A catastrophe follows--and changes everything. The trauma from this event shapes and haunts Art's life moving forward, from his experiences as a soldier in World War II to his reckless, nomadic working days in logging camps across British Columbia to his turbulent relationship with his one great love--a woman he cannot believe he deserves.

Painful, poignant yet full of hope, Forest Green explores how trauma can warp our lives while love can help us to mend.

A Burning

- by Megha Majumdar

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
 
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE JOHN LEONARD AWARD FOR BEST FIRST BOOK
 
FINALIST FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise--to the middle class, to politcal power, to fame in the movies--and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.


Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely--an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humour--has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. This novel is a debut of exceptional power and urgency, haunting and beautiful, brutal, vibrant, impossible to forget.

The Erratics

- by Vicki Laveau-harvie

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In this award-winning memoir, two sisters reckon with the convalescence and death of their outlandishly tyrannical mother and the care of their psychologically terrorized father, all relayed with dark humour and brutal honesty.

When Vicki and her sister learn their mother has been hospitalized for a broken hip, they return to their parents' home in Alberta to put things back in order. Though their parents disowned them years before, the sisters now reassert themselves in the dysfunctional household: their father, undernourished and suffering from Stockholm syndrome, is unable to see that he is in danger from his outlandish and vindictive wife. Rearranging their lives to be the daughters they were never allowed to be, the sisters focus their efforts on helping their father cope with the unending manipulations of their mother, and must encounter all the characters common in the circus of caretaking--oddball nurses and home helpers; over-opinionated hospital staff who have fallen for their mother's compulsive lies--along with the pressures that come with caring for elderly loved (and sometimes unloved) ones.

Set against the natural world of remotest Alberta ("in winter the cold will kill you, nothing personal"), this memoir--at once dark and hopeful--shatters precedents about grief, anger and family trauma with surprising tenderness and humour.

Aria

- by Nazanine Hozar

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE AMAZON CANADA FIRST NOVEL AWARD

An extraordinary, cinematic saga of rags to riches to revolution that follows an orphan girl coming of age in Iran at a time of dramatic upheaval


It is the 1950s in a restless Iran, a country rich in oil but deeply divided by class and religion. The government is unpopular and corrupt and under foreign sway. One night, an illiterate army driver hears the pitiful cry of a baby abandoned in an alley and menaced by ravenous wild dogs. He snatches up the child and takes her home, naming her Aria--the first step on an unlikely path from deprivation to privilege. Over the next two decades, the orphan girl acquires three mother figures whose secrets she will learn only much later: reckless and self-absorbed Zahra, who abuses her; wealthy and compassionate Fereshteh, who adopts her; and mysterious Mehri, whose connection to Aria is both a blessing and a burden.

A university education opens a new world to Aria, and she is soon caught up in the excitement and danger of the popular uprising against the Shah that sweeps through the streets of Tehran. The novel's heart-pounding, explosive finale sees the Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal regime seize power--even as Aria falls in love and becomes a mother herself.

Nazanine Hozar's stunning debut gives us an unusually intimate view of a momentous time, through the eyes of a young woman coming to terms with the mysteries of her own past and future.

Sex and Vanity

- by Kevin Kwan

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds--the WASP establishment of her father's family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can't stand him. She can't stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can't stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can't stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte. "Your mother is Chinese so it's no surprise you'd be attracted to someone like him," Charlotte teases. Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world--and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

The Certainties

- by Aislinn Hunter

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FINALIST FOR THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
 
A vivid, moving novel reminiscent of Anthony Doerr and Michael Ondaatje, about the entwined fates of two very different refugees.


In 1940, as the shadow of war lengthens over Europe, three mysterious travelers enter a village in Spain. They have the appearance of Parisian intellectuals, but the trio of two men and a woman are starving and exhausted from crossing illegally through the Pyrenees. Their story, told over a period of 48 tense hours, is narrated by one of the men, who slowly accepts his unthinkable fate. In a voice despairing and elegant, he calmly considers what he should do, and weighs what any one life means. As he does so, his attention is caught by a five-year-old named Pia who wanders near his cafe table. To Pia he begins to address all that he thinks and feels in his final hours--envisioning a rich future life for her that both reflects and contrasts with his own.

Meanwhile, in the 1980s, a woman named Pia seeks solitude on a remote island in the Atlantic, where she works at an inn and reflects on her chaotic childhood. As Pia's story begins, a raging storm engulfs the island and a boat flounders offshore. Pia and her fellow islanders rush to help--and past and present calamities collide.

By turns elegiac and heart-pounding, a love letter in the guise of a song of despair, The Certainties is a moving and transformative blend of historical and speculative fiction--a novel that shows us what it means to bear witness, and to attend to those who seek refuge, past and present.

Utopia Avenue

- by David Mitchell

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the internationally bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas.


Utopia Avenue may be the most extraordinary British band you've never heard of. Emerging from London's psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of '68.

David Mitchell's kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue's turbulent life and times; of fame's Faustian pact and stardom's wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don't; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?

The Overstory

- by Richard Powers

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
Winner of the William Dean Howells Medal
Winner of France's Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine
Finalist for the Man Booker Prize
Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award

"Monumental. . . . A gigantic fable of genuine truths." --Barbara Kingsolver, The New York Times Book Review


The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of--and paean to--the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours--fast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Wagers

- by Sean Michaels

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Scotiabank Giller-winner Sean Michaels' The Wagers is a deeply satisfying, wildly entertaining story of long odds, magical heists and the dizzying gamble of life. Where does luck come from? What is it worth? And how much of it do you need to be happy?

After fifteen years of open mics, aspiring comedian Theo Poitiris is still waiting for his big break--bicycling to the comedy club at night, stacking plums and cheeses at his family's grand and ramshackle supermarket by day. But when his girlfriend wanders halfway around the world searching for enlightenment, leaving him behind, and bolts from the blue strike both his mother and his young neice, Theo decides he's had enough of waiting for his luck to change.
     He turns away from the price of milk and the telling of funny stories into a shabby, beautiful, imaginary Montreal, where peacocks strut on street corners and gamblers bet on sunny days. In search of something bold and new, Theo goes to work for a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit's Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and soon stumblies into the plots and plans of the vigilante No Name Gang, which steals luck from those who have taken more than their fair share.
     Bursting with sheer story-telling pleasure and stylish prose, The Wagers carries you along on wave after wave of invention--a literary motorcycle chase that soon has you wondering about the randomness of good fortune and all the ways we choose to wage our lives.