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10 Canadian writers recommend their must-read books

We asked the writers who helped us determine the longlist for this year's CBC Short Story Prize to reveal the titles that they most recommend to their friends. 

The result: More than a dozen great reads just waiting for you. Which book do you most recommend to your friends? Leave the title in the Comments section below. 

Cosmo by Spencer Gordon
recommended by Barry Webster

It won the CBC Bookie Award last year, but I discovered the collection long before the press got wind of it. The stories are about movie stars and public figures (Miley Cyrus, Leonard Cohen and others), which normally wouldn’t interest me, but his prose has this wonderfully hallucinatory surreal quality. He isn`t afraid of long sentences and lush exuberant poetic language. Even the comic sections have this underlying throbbing intensity that never lets up. There's one long rambling story called “Frankie + Hilary + Romeo + Abigail + Helen: An Intermission,” which I take as an explosive exposé of pop culture and the internet. Honestly, because of that story, I'm surfing much less on the internet than before!

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam
recommended by Thomas Wharton

A heart-breaking story of a chimpanzee raised like a human child, and the terrible consequences of that. A timely book about the arrogant way we treat other living things.

Delicate, Edible Birds by Lauren Groff
recommended by Shashi Bhat

I’ve recommended Lauren Groff’s Delicate, Edible Birds because it’s just beautifully crafted. The language is as polished and fragile as eggshells. And Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden, because he seems to have this rare empathy that allows him to really inhabit his characters and give their voices such authenticity. 

Afterlands by Steven Heighton
recommended by Shari Lepeña

A favourite because it’s brilliantly written and such a good story. I've also recommended How to be Good, by Nick Hornby, to a lot of people, because it’s very clever and funny.

Making Light of Tragedy by Jessica Grant
recommended by Chad Pelley

Her characters are so wild, and weird, and vibrant, and thoughtful, and clueless, and full of quirks and flaws they’re so open about or oblivious to. They’re honest. They’re also so fascinated by the simplest little things that they are in turn fascinating to read about. Making Light of Tragedy is the only book on my bookshelf with a busted spine, because it’s the only book I’ve read a third time.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
recommended by Dennis E Bolen

These days, in terms of placing what I consider to be the perfect piece of writing in front of anyone who seeks my advice on what that might be, I plunk down Patrick DeWitt's brilliant The Sisters Brothers. The book contains all the necessary elements of a persuasive literary conceit: quickness of pace, compelling characters, intricate detail, comedy, tragedy, art, science, horses and a yearning to return home.

Malarky by Anakana Schofield
recommended by Elise Moser

My book recommendations change constantly as I read. Recently I have been recommending Malarky by Anakana Schofield, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (which I haven't actually read, but I am a rabid fan of her work and am just itching to get my hands on it!).

Cobra: The Last Laugh by Mike Costa and Christos N. Gage (illustrated by Antonio Fuso, SL Gallant and Chee)
recommended by Richard Van Camp

This is the graphic novel at its highest form. A GI Joe operative named “Chuckles” infiltrates what he thinks is a small terrorist organization called “Cobra,” only to find that its reach is international and it's grip on the world is turning into a strangle. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH that I bought it in single issues, then I had to have it on my iPad and then I bought the hardcover and I even interviewed the entire artist team. I'm obsessed!!!

Red Girl Rat Boy by Cynthia Flood
recommended by Rebecca Rosenblum

I recently read Cynthia Flood’s Red Girl Rat Boy and really enjoyed it, but many of the stories are set in the world of west-coast radical politics, a world I know nothing about. I was content to find my way through those stories—Flood is an assured author and you can trust her to show you what you need to know—but not everyone feels comfortable reading in that way. Ron Schafrick’s new collection Interpreters is also set in an unfamiliar world for me, the Anglophone community in Seoul, South Korea. Again, I felt well-guided in the stories, so the unfamiliarity drifted away pretty fast.

Dancing Nightly in the Tavern by Mark Anthony Jarman
recommended by Elisabeth de Mariaffi 

I always recommend Mark Anthony Jarman's Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, and Stephen O'Connor's Here Comes Another Lesson.  Both are full of surprises. Both will stay with you.

Which book do you most recommend to your friends? 
Let us know in the Comments section below. 

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set count down final date: 11/01/2014
set count up final date: 11/01/2014
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