Get to know the Top 40: 5 books that will change your perspective on the past

There are 40 books on the Canada Reads longlist. Where should you begin? How should you cast your precious votes? Don't worry: we're here to help.

Each one of the books on this list will change your perspective on some aspect of the world, and all week, we'll be exploring which is which. So check back with us every day and pretty soon you'll know the Top 40 like the back of your hand.

Today: Books that will change your perspective on the past.

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan


Esi Edugyan's acclaimed novel explores an unexpected aspect of the Second World War -- the world of jazz music in Berlin and Paris. In 1940, a black German jazz musician is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. Fifty years later, his bandmates return to Europe in an attempt to uncover and come to terms with the story behind their friend's disappearance. Edugyan plays with rhythm and language, and her elegant characterization of the 1940s is rhythmic and musical.

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart


Followers of last year's Canada Reads will remember Jane Urquhart's sweeping historical epic novel Away, which was about the experiences of an Irish family forced to emigrate to Canada during the potato famine. Urquhart is incredibly effective at weaving history into her novels, and The Stone Carvers is no different. This book is about a family legacy of carving, the devastating losses felt in war, and the utmost importance of memory.

What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin


In a small village in northwestern India in 1937, a 16-year-old Sikh girl named Roop is forced to become the second wife of a man in his 40s, who is desperate for a son. Shauna Singh Baldwin's debut novel is immaculately researched, bringing to life a a difficult time in Indian history from a rarely seen perspective.

Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth


It's hard to resist the theme of Elizabeth Ruth's recent novel about a young servant woman secretly pursuing an illegal career as a bullfighter in 1930s Spain. As one might expect, Ruth's book is full of the violence of the bullring and the complications and challenges of life during the Spanish Civil War. It's a dynamic look at an unusual aspect of Spanish history and culture.

Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien


A harrowing story about the devastation of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Madeleine Thien's Dogs at the Perimeter offers readers an uncanny insight into a recent historical terror. Told from the perspective of a young woman trying to come to terms with the horrors of her past, Dogs at the Perimeter is an important look at both Cambodian history and the permanent scars left by war.

Do any of these books get your vote? Or are you waiting to hear about the other 35? Vote now!

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