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What book do you recommend for Checkup's summer reading list?

On Cross Country Checkup: summer books

It may not feel like it, but summer is just around the corner. So, help compile Checkup's summer list of good reading.

Fiction, non-fiction, classics, modern ...tell us about whatever took hold of your attention or burrowed its way into your thoughts.

With host Rex Murphy.
Note: Only books suggestions mentioned on-air during the program are included on the list. Many suggestons e-mailed to the program are posted here under E-mail.

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We have, by the very nature of the program, shows that are driven by the most exciting, most important, or most compelling issue of the week.

The past few weeks have certainly offered a multitude of such large issues and events.

A tumultuous general election, floods, fires, storms ...we are hostages to troubled times. For those who seek to understand the times, shelter from them, place them in scale or context - what resource, better, more accomodating, more various than books? And what better time than now.

Books, as a topic, by comparison don't register on the larger scale. Nonetheless listener response to the book shows are always higher in volume, more detailed, and in some sense most enthusiastic, than responses to the most divisive issue or clamorous political topic.

This is our summer show for books. It has a plain and simple plan: we want you to tell us about a book you like very much - tell us a little why you like it. This book can be brand new and just off the presses; or it can be some worthy and ever renewable classic; fiction or non fiction; a book for the sombre adult; or the eager child.

The only requirement we impose on the book you choose - is that it be a book with some real force, connection, and impact for you: that this be a book which has worked real magic on you the reader - so much so that you would like the nation or a portion of it at least to hear of it - and we then put it on our book list.

Tell us your choice and tell us why you found this particular book so compelling, and why you think others might like it too.

Any kind of book as usual too: new or old, best seller or rare find; fiction or non-fiction, essay, novel, short story, how-to, children's, poem or history.

No limits, except that the book moved you - generated a real response - had great language, great story, great style, or real meaning.

Our question: "What book do you recommend for Checkup's summer booklist?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.



  • Tonya Kearley
    Folklorist, dance instructor and performer with her musician husband, Kelly Russell. She co-manages Newfoundland Independent Music Label, Pigeon Inlet Productions and is a high school teacher at St Michael's High, Bell Island, Nfld.

  • Raheel Raza
    Writer, board member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, consultant to the UN on religious issues and author of Their Jihad ..not my Jihad.

  • Andre Furlani
    Associate Professor of English Concordia, University, author of Guy Davenport, Post-Modernism and After.




After the last year of parliamentary controversies over the relative prerogatives of government and Parliament it is incumbent upon one to read Canadian House of Commons: Procedure and Practice this summer.

J. P. Shaffer


Found the book by chance at Heathrow in March - available here
Humorous history written by a Francophile!

700 pages of the best, light,  non-fiction read I have had in years.
Francophile or Francophobe it is 'cannot put down'

Sunday Times  said "tremendously entertaining"

1000 Years of Annoying the French' by Stephen Clarke

Martin  Mac Gregor
South Pender Island, British Columbia


Hope I'm not too late to recommend Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny, by Caroline Woodward (published by Oolichan) to any people travelling through the Peace country. Part of the novel is told from the perspective of a Peace country farmer driving a honey truck to Vancouver. The other part is set in the Peace. It's a journey in itself, quite literally a Peace country  take on Homer's Odyssey. Perfect  for your list!

Joanna  Streetly
Tofino, British Columbia


The last best book I've read is "Death of the Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges.

B Leonard
Toronto, Ontario


I'd strongly recommend Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain". Great life lessons told through the eyes of Enzo the dog with a backdrop of motor racing. Great narrative, great plot, very accessible. Loved it. Absolutely loved it!

Doug Nix


I would like to recommend the book Growing up Bin Laden by Najwa Bin
Laden(his first wife) Omar Bin Laden(his son) and Jean Sasson. I think it
should be required reading for everyone in Europe and North America,
especially high schoolers. After reading this, you will  see just what Osama
Bin Laden and his cohorts plan for non-muslims, worldwide!

Rick Knight


One of the books  I love is by Vikram Seth (I think) "A suitable boy". I read this book a couple of summers ago and  learned so much about India. It is also very well written and drew me into it right away.

Another one which is on my all favorite book list is by Kurt Tucholsky, a journalist, poet, writer from a long time ago. He is one of the German writers who's books were burnt in the Third Reich. He wrote a little summer book called "Castle Gripsholm" and is still in print.

Love your show. thank you,
Jeannette Lorenz


I wanted to recommend The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I read it earlier this year when it was recommended by a friend. It's beautifully written and has amazing layers of meaning. A good read for anyone!


Gwen Siemens
Mission, British Columbia


Every summer I try to re-read W. O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind? I first read this book in grade 10 or 11,that was many years ago. I loved it then and love it still. This book further resonates with me because my father was one of the actors in the movie version that came out in about 1976. Dad played the philosopher-shoemaker, Milt Palmer. I remember a scene where he was talking with the school teacher about the nature of death,"it's stinking, and rotting, and then you're back to the prairie again." My father died a few years after that show came out and whenever I re-read this quintessential coming of age story I feel his presence again.

Karen Robertson
Air Ronge, Saskatchewan


Rex, I would highly recommend the following as a good summer read, on the beach, the dock, the hammock, on the road, etc:

The Year of Broken Glass, by Joe Denham.

This engrossing book combines an intoxicating mix of adventure, romance, dystopia and speculative fiction, psychological drama and even poetry to tell the riveting tale of a struggling west coast fisherman who discovers a mysterious glass object that could make his fortune or could bring the world to the brink of apocalypse. It's unforgettable!

Always enjoy this show in particular, sir!

Vicki Ziegler
Toronto, Ontario


Dance on The Earth...A Memoir:Margaret Laurence.  McLelland & Stewart, 1989.  A wonderful insight into the life of a wonderful Canadian writer and  a truly admirable woman.

Barbara Scott


I would recommend Helen Caldicott's book "Nuclear Power is not the answer".   Its an excellent book that argues againest Nuclear Power.  Its quite readable and doesn't get bogged down in technical details.  It makes you question the argument that Nuclear Power is a "Green" solution to our energy needs.  Very straight forward read.

Gary French
St. John's, Newfoundland


I highly suggest the bluntly titled book "the ethical slut" which has become an underground hit for polyamorous people as a source of both guidance and insperation. It is a lively mix of narrative, case studies, and advice. It is aimed at both those already in the lifestyle, but also anyone who is curious to begin exploring or just learning about alternative relationship styles. I, and many friends of all stripes, have been engrosed by the eye-opening ideas, and typically pass the book around to other friends. Indeed, my first copy was a gift, but I recently bought the second edition.

Chris DeHaan



I would like to recommend the book by Rebecca Skloot "the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks". This is one of the few times that I could not put down a non-fiction book. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who was admitted into the 'coloured" ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1950. She died of cervical cancer and without her or her family's knowledge, some of her cancerous cells were being cultivated in the lab at Johns Hopkins and being "grown" around the world. Her cells were being used in the development of the vaccines for polio and in the research for AIDS. The book raises the question of biomedical ethics and race relations in the U.S. It is well written , well researched, and read like a fiction.

Helen Haffar
LaSalle, Ontario


Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. The very funny and very touching story of "Oddly" Flowers and her quest to find both her 20 year old pet ex-laboratory mouse and her missing uncle after the untimely death of her father by Christmas Tree. Half told by Audrey and half by her pet tortoise Winnifred left behind in Oregon. Set in Newfoundland, full of wordplay and hijinks, you will fall in love with Audrey and her quest to uncover her father's mysterious past.

Katherine Jenkins
Edmonton, Alberta


I recommend a book called "The Magyar Cipher Murders: by Eugene James.  This book is set in the 1950's Vancouver on the waterfront.  As the title suggests it is a murder mystery written with a sense of humour and a great historical understanding of old time Vancouver.  The protagonist is a handsome burly salvage tugboat operator that witnesses a presumed suicide as a young Hungarian Lawyer falls from the Marine Building to his death.  He is enlisted by the victim's sister, a beautiful ballerina, to help her solve the mystery of her brother's death which she believes to be murder.  As the brother and sisters story of defection unravels C.S.I.S becomes involved as do the Russians and the local RCMP.  It is rich with exciting sea adventures, local settings and characters.  It is a fun read, great for the summer and will leave you wanting more.  It is published by Trafford Publishing out of Victoria and can be purchased through Amazon books.  The IBSN # is ISBN-10: 1425151167.
Thanks, I almost made it on last year with this selection but ran out of time.

Kelly Cammack
Campbell River, British Columbia


For anybody who values a good laugh, I recommend Susan Juby's latest novel, Home to Woefield. I might have overlooked this title if I hadn't had the good fortune to hear the author reading an excerpt. Nothing short of hilarious, which is to be expected from the author of the Alice, I Think young adult series, which was set in Smithers and is equally funny.
Home to Woefield is set on Vancouver Island and chronicles the efforts of a sweet but naive young New Yorker as she sets about trying to rehabilitate a scabby old acreage populated by an odd assortment of characters, each of whom are likewise in need of some help. Juby creates deeply sympathetic characters out of thoroughly flawed individuals, all of whom will make you laugh your head off.
Thanks for the excellent show.

Alert Bay, British Columbia


Best laid Plans by Terry Fallis is a great read.  A hilarious satire of the Canadian political machinery.  Fallis has a great hand with dialogue and his characters are unforgettable.  If you are going to Ottawa this summer, this is the book to take with you.

Kathy Baker
Dundas, Ontario 


My current favourite is "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.

A non-fiction book, I was expected it to be perky or saccharin, as so many self-improvement books are, and was pleasantly surprised to find the author had done considerable research on the subject of happiness, drawing on the wisdom of a variety of deep thinkers, from Benjamin Franklin to Martin Seligman, with a good dose of Mom's common sense to boot.

Choosing one theme per month to work on for a year, the author takes us through her successes and failures in her quest to increase her level of personal happiness, and that was something I liked: hearing about her misses along with her hits made the book real, authentic. It's not a preachy "Do this and you'll be happy".

I've come away ready to take a fresh look at my own life and, instead of whining about the parts of it that aren't living up to my expectations, I am now feeling inspired to actually do something to spend more of my time feeling happy. Maybe I'll take a minute to clear the clutter from my desk, start a new knitting project, buy a few new plants for the garden ... I've been reminded that happiness is to be found in our moments, and is actually quite easy to achieve.

The Happiness Project reminds me that my state of happiness is really a choice I'm making moment to moment in my life, and reinforces the notion it's okay to "Be Susan", to be me. I know it all sounds so "Oprah", but at this point in midlife, it's easy to forget what I actually like to do, what really makes me happy, so busy are my days shouldering the burdens of my job, and family responsibilities. Any book that leaves me feeling energized and hopeful that yes, I can make choices that leave me feeling happier, is a book I highly recommend.

Susan Fiddler
Victoria, British Columbia


I would highly recommend all five books by Anthony Bruce -although if I am restricted to one I would suggest  his latest "The Consequence of Memory". This is an excellent detective story set in Kenya, which explores the colonial past and its impacts on the present day.  Anthony Bruce lives on Saltspring Island, BC and if you are lucky enough visit you can find him and his books at the Saturday Morning Market in Ganges.

Laura Thomson
Victoria, British Columbia


Bay of Spritis, Farley Mowat

My two cents from a blackberry on a sunny deck in St.John's  the book is a honest reflection of summers spent in newfoundland  a love story of  the manly kind.  his love affair with a special woman and a special world  (Newfoundland) A great array of forgotten charatcterscapt ern Riggs to mention.... a living history reflected  again thank you to Farley.

Derek Frampton
St. John's, Newfoundland



When the subject of conversation turns to books, there's always one more recently above all others that I heartily recommend.  Many are familiar with it, and it's called 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society', by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, published by Random House in 2008.  Very briefly, it takes place just after World War II, and is written in the form of letters between a writer in England and an assortment of interesting characters who live on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel, and although fictional, it gives us a very good picture of what life was like for the inhabitants of the Channel Islands during the German occupation.  I'm always interested in stories about the war, but had no idea that the Islands were ever occupied at all.  They were, in fact, very heavily fortified during the occupation, which lasted from 1940 to 1945, and many of these fortifications can still be seen today.  Reading this book was only the beginning for me, as I subsequently spent many hours devouring information on the occupation, and the islands in general.  For me it became a fascinating part of World War II history.  Last summer I decided to see for myself, so spent three glorious days in Guernsey soaking it all in, and, like the main character Juliet in the book, felt it truly is a little piece of heaven on earth.  I most enthusiastically recommend this book.


Ottawa, Ontario


"The Last Voyage of the Karluk" was written by Captain Bob Bartlett, published in 2007.  It was one of the most compelling books that I have read in many years.  The details of the men aboard the Karluk, how they outfitted the ship, and then what happened to them when the "Karluk" struck the ice in the Arctic.  Bob Bartlett's tale of survival and the voyage he made against almost unbelievable odds to get help for what was left of his crew is nothing short of miraculous.  He writes the book in a quiet, almost plodding way, but the narrative keeps the reader glued to the pages.

Pat Carrie Smith
Sandspit, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia


I highly recommend Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance" for your list. I spent one entire summer several years ago sitting on my porch swing curled up with this book. It took me into another world (India) and the lives of four fascinating characters, and I was very sad when it ended! It is superbly written, extremely well thought out and the whole story reflects the author's aptly chosen title. It's close to 1,000 pages, so it's one of those novels you can truly get lost in.

Another book I read more recently is Alan Lightman's "Einstein's Dreams." I can't remember where I picked up this book -- I didn't buy it. Someone had left it lying around. Each chapter is a different story that takes place in a different world where TIME operates differently. It's food for thought, undoubtedly, as people behave differently in each world. It's the kind of book you can pick up when you've got some spare time and read a chapter or two at random in about five minutes.

Susan Hickman
Ottawa, Ontario


I recommend Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.  Written in 1889 it is a short humorous piece reflecting a camping/boating vacation in Victorian times.  The best remembered vacations are those that involve elements of disaster and its always comforting to know that someone else can be more incompetent than you when enjoying the best and worst of nature and human nature.  Very tongue in cheek story about three inseparable friends who know and tolerate each other's foibles but are totally unaware that they themselves have annoying habits.

Shane Wray
Kingston, Ontario




Let me begin by saying that I am a recent retiree and I decided to join an Eldercollege writers group. Some of the most delightful stories I have ever come across have been from my classmates; stories of thunderstorms and floods in the thirties, horse drawn sleigh rides, returns to the family farm 50 years on, and harrowing escapes from war zones .So, a first suggestion to your listeners, join one of these groups because most of these wonderful stories will never  come across the counter of any bookstore soon.

My second suggestion is Anita Rao Badami's TAMARIND MEM. The narrator is an immigrant daughter who is settled in Calgary and describes her life growing up with a mother who was an educated woman wanting a career who was sold into marriage with an older man and pushed into raising a family instead. The structure is interesting as the first part of the book looks at the family dynamics from the point of view of the daughter. The latter part, however, is the mother on a train trip telling her own stories to a small group of women from her perspective.

Why did I like it? The writing is delicious. Badami captures the smells, the sounds, the colours of India and at the same time she layers her characters with humour, sensitivity and charm. I also have a great appreciation for Commonwealth writers - VS Naipul, Chinua Achebe and others - and feel so sad that we seem to wallow in what is so popular in the USA when we have access to a much broader cloth because of our heritage.

Ray Garford
Courtenay, British Columbia


Hope I am not too late for summer reading suggestions, I recently read Johnny Kicker by Jeremy Beal. An excellent first novel by this young Georgetown Ontario author.

Michelle Andrews
Pickering, Ontario


I recommend A Fair Country by John Ralston Saul for a fresh history-based vision for Canada.
Thought-provoking, inspiring, a great read for all who care about Canada's future.  Also, by the same author,his earlier book,  Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada in the Twentieth Century, which explores the historical and philosophical background of French and English in Canada.  Please read these books !

Edna Cox
Port Alberni, British Columbia


I am listening to your program and see that callers are sticking mostly to Canadian fiction so I want to add two Canadian non-fiction that are very important books for Canadians to read right now.  One is Gywnne Dyer's "Climate Wars" and the other is "The Trouble with Billionaires".  I have spent the last 6 months reading books on climate change and economics to try to figure out what we face and how we can fix it.  For perspective, I would recommend a list of 20 books and a number of documentaries, but the above books are the best wake-up calls and what to do from among the 20.  Please recommend these books to your audience because we need to prepare for our future.


Mayta Ryn
Ladysmith, British Columbia


I read a book this year that I tell friends was the most terrifying and inspiring book I have ever read.  Sharon Astyk authored Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front.  It is a very candid look at how the author sees the world changing in the face of peak oil, environmental change and the economic crisis.  Perhaps it resonated with me as I am a mom, as she is, and I have real concerns about the direction the world is headed, as is she.  At any rate, I feel this is a book, that if more widely read, could affect some very positive change.

Glenna Ottenbreit-Born
Regina, Saskatchewan


My suggestion is The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. It's three giant volumes of gonzo historical fiction written in the kind of baroque modern style that Stephenson does best. It features real historical figures, like Isaac Newton, as well as fictional characters based on real people, and the main characters are the ancestors of characters from the previous Stephenson novel, Cryptonomicon. But you don't have to have read that or any other Stephenson novel to enjoy The Baroque Cycle.

Very few authors have the ability to make me shout with joy just from the quality of the writing, not to mention the intricate plot and the great dialogue. And no other writer keeps me up so late into the night; although most of his books are very long, they are infinitely readable and ultimately un-put-downable.

Karl Loeffler


My favorite book is House of Hate by Newfoundland author Percy Janes. It mirrors some dysfunctions in every family I have ever met. I laughed, I cried. It reminded me of the good times growing up yet put a knot in my stomach when I read about the old mans inability to express his love to his children, yet knowing it was a real love, just never expressed.

Rod Lyver
Corner Brook, Newfoundland


My all-time favourite novel - or most memorable - was Steinbeck's East of Eden.  Perhaps because I read it in my late teens, it meant more than had I read it years later. In fact, at the time, I really loved all of Steinbeck's works, but something about the theme of good and evil, the character development and the way the them played out over the generations had a long lasting effect on me.   Last summer I read Water for Elephants and enjoyed it - I would recommend as nice light read. But it certainly didn't have a profound impact they way Steinbeck's novels did. I just attended the big second hand book fair yesterday so I have a dozen new (to me!!) novels to see me through the summer. 

Deborah Doherty
Fredericton, New Brunswick


Terry Fallis Best Laid Plans and The High Road Funny and cynical. Well written. Heard about the first as it won the 2011  CBC Canada Reads. Made me laugh out loud!

Pam Migeon
Victoria, British Columbia


Down to A Sunless Sea by Daviud Graham. About third world war and a group of people that are flying between cities when the bombs start dropping. These people have to find a place to live where the nuclear fall out won't get them. Two different endings to this book. Along the same story line as Nevile Shute's "On the Beach" Excellent story and if you look on line you can find a copy. About 20 years old.

Mike McDonnell
Merritt, British Columbia


Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer

A well-written look at a case of fundamentalism gone scary. The book told to me a between-the-lines story of how intelligence, glibness, and strength of personality in a leader combined with perhaps various character flaws in followers can support  fantasy that would not otherwise be accepted.

The author talks of fundamentalist Mormons, but the mystical folderol of the faith's origins looks a lot like the foundations of many others. Most adherents practice a live-and-let-live version of their faith - whatever it is - but the main characters of Krakauer's book slip over the edge to a place where other people deserve to die for their perceived lack of piety.

There seem to be more and more of these ideologues around lately. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

Gord Bradshaw


I would like to recommend the book "Darwin's Sacred Cause--race slavery and the quest for human rivers" by Adrian Desmond and James Moore (Penguin) 2010.  It explores Darwin's motivation for investigation of  the unity of all life and the descent of all people from a common ancestor. This flew in the face of 'scientific racism' that held sway during the 19th century  It is an amazing book that shows him as one of history's greatest humanists.

Lionel Jackson
Coquitlam, British Columbia


I'd like to recommend the book, "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Taylor.  She tells the story of her personal experience of a massive stroke from her unique point of view as a researcher in neuroscience and the brain.  It is an inspiring, fascinating, and encouraging book.

After I read it, my husband suffered several strokes, and I discovered that on the Neurology Unit where he ended up, patients' families were recommending this book to each other.  Dr. Taylor provides a fascinating insight into the experiences of the patient and what they need from us as their caregivers

Anne Nield
Edmonton, Alberta


I recommend "Sleights of Mind" by neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde. It is about how magic is being used to study how our brains work. In particular, it shows how magicians, pickpockets, and others capitalize on our perceptions and what we focus on from our surroundings. There is a web site with videos to illustrate the text.

Allan Brown
Calgary, Alberta


A very exciting story of Sir Francis Drake's quest for the Northwest Passage and an easy access to the Spice Islands of the Far East.  It seems that Drake sailed up and down the west coast of British Columbia in the 1570's, long before any other English explorers.  More importantly, he was sure that sailors needed more nutrition than previously thought and he was always careful to procure fresh meat, fresh fruit and provisions no matter where they were in the world, even to the point of gathering lichens off rocks and eating penguins and seals when going through the Straits of Magellan, not knowing that he was preventing scurvy.  He lost very few men to malnutrition or war or privateering.  He captured numerous Spanish Galleons and had a huge positive effect on the riches and reign of Elizabeth I.

Vivian Cruise
Fanny Bay, British Columbia


The invention of Murder by Judith Flanders. Incredibly rich and detailed look at how murder came to be sensationalized. A look into Victorian England's fascination with murder and in turn, ours. Gives a great idea about how journalism came to be as well. Maclean's best seller non fiction 1st week, Fantastic!

Elle Fanders



Would love to recommend A.S Byatt's The Children's Book. It is a wonderful novel about three families' lives against the backdrop of the end of the Victorian Age.

The interesting thread is that one of the main characters writes children's books for publication and also books for her own children wherein the her children are the main characters.

When asked why she chose this topic, Byatt replied that she had noted a high incidence of suicides by the children of authors who wrote children's literature. Curious that she decided to explore this idea.

An engrossing read!!

Peggy Rasmussen
Ottawa, Ontario


I would like to recommend "The Best Laid Plans" & "The High Road" by Terry Fallis.  They are wonderful political satires which I think should be mandatory reading for all MPs & certainly the wave of new, young MPs that will now grace our Parliament.  I listened to the four McGill NDP MPs this morning on Sunday Morning & found them to be bright, articulate & enthusiastic about their responsibilities.  I just hope that they don't get discouraged by the old, boys club.  With the state of or lack of democracy that is happening in Parliament, if more Members were like "Angus McLintock" & put Canada first, constituents second and themselves last we would have a great government in Ottawa.  These two books are a laugh out loud romp through the hallowed halls of Parliament & behind the scenes.  Many a true word has been spoken in jest.  Terry Fallis sure knows of what he writes.

Jean Wanless
Sundridge, Ontario


My recommendation is Arthur C. Clarke's novelization of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Even for those who were intimidated by the Kubrick film, Clarke's writing is very accessible but is still guaranteed to blow your mind. I have never had another reading experience which is on par with this book. Keep in mind this novel was written in the late 60's long before anyone knew what places like Jupiter and Saturn were actually like. Certainly no probes had visited those planets back then. Yet Clarke's speculative descriptions of these worlds is nearly dead on. He was an unquestioned genius.

Clayton Tucker
Guelph, Ontario


This year is the 50th anniversary of Jane Jacobs seminal book on the factors that make cities successful and prosperous.  Jane Jacobs was an independent scholar, and the ideas she developed in this book should have turned the discipline of urban planning on its head.   Instead, we are still making many of the same mistakes regarding social networking, competent, diverse,multiple-use (residential, work, education, entertainment) neighbourhoods.

Re "the" book or e-book:  "the" book is more enjoyable, but e-book is searchable!

All the best, and enjoy whatever books you read this summer.

Leigh Thorpe
Ottawa, Ontario


I would like to recommend a book for your summer reading list. I couldn't put down "Water for Elephants" by Sarah Gruen. I highly recommend this book, as the characters are rich and fully developed. The story has elements of romance, history, suspense. I would not have chosen a book that has the subject matter of the old world traveling circuses but it is actually fascinating. Sarah Gruen has really done her research. You learn about the hierarchy of the people who work these circuses. You learn how life was rough and hand to mouth during the depression. I loved Rosie the elephant and Jacob who is looking back on his life. I hope this book ends up on your summer reading list so people can discover this book and get lost in the story.

Jillian Soame
Ottawa, Ontario


About a month ago I was talking with some friends about our "favorite books" and what we would recommend to each other for the summer. I told them about my favorite book - "Robinson Crusoe" by  Daniel Defoe. It is the story of a sailor who is shipwrecked  and is able to survive on an island for decades alone until he is rescued.  It is the inner dialogue the main character has and the struggle with the meaning of his life that captivated me.  I read it almost 20 years ago and as I reflected on the conversation  I wondered if my memory was skewed by the amount of time that had passed. So, I recently reread it!
Rex, it is as wonderful today as it was the first time! There are so many poignant lessons about character, hope and perseverance! I was re- inspired to look at my life in its context rather than just in my daily circumstance. I came away feeling lifted, hopeful and inspired. What more can you ask from a book! It is amazing that the truths of this novel  written in 1719  are relevant for today!  I give it my whole heart recommendation!

Charlene Pollock
Richmond Hill, Ontario


My suggestion for a great summer read  would be Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins.  This is actually a book for young readers (age 10-12) but adults would love it as well.  It was written in 1960 but I read it to my class and they loved it so the story still grabs a contemporary audience.  It is about a young First Nations girl who lives off the California coast in the early 1800's.  It is a story of survival, tenacity and it has great historical significance.  I have loved it for years and have shared it with my grade 4 classes in the past and it was always a  favourite.

Irene Williams
Smithers, BC

I highly recommend Jeanette Lynes The Factory Voice, a novel set in Thunder Bay during the Second World War. Although it is a work of fiction, it draws on a large oral history project conducted with women who worked at the Can-Car airplane factory during the war. The author is a poet and professor of English at SFX, and this, her 1st novel, was nominated for the    Giller Award. The novel has been dramatized by CBC and posted as a web cast.

My husband also very much enjoyed this work since it captures so well the time and place that serves as the backdrop for the novel.

A very entertaining read!

Gail Brandt
Bright, Ontario


I am 12 years old and my favourite book is The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, it is the 5th book of the Percy Jackson series and it is awesome! It has involves a lot of stuff about the Greek gods. In this book, Kronos,  the father of Zeus escapes from Tartus to destroy mount Olympus which is in Manhattan on the 500th floor of the Empire State building so Percy (the main character) tries to save Mount Olympus.  This book series is the one that made me want to read.

Aidan Johns
Lacombe, Alberta



I would like to recommend Keith Richard's Autobiography "Life".  It is a great story of the Rolling Stones and their relationships to each other and their family, friends and other musicians and artists working together sometimes for days on a song or an album, travelling like gypsies, wackos, artists and bums in cars, boats, buses and planes.  No matter that it is a story of sex and drugs and rock and roll, it is still a great history of a great band told through the eyes of Keith.   Lots of other people get to put their two cents in and tell their side of the stories as the events unfolded.  Secrets of special guitar tunings learned from other musicians and jam sessions abound.  They were in Morocco with Bill Burroughs!

Once you read this book then you have to read Janis Joplin's biography "Love, Janis" written by her sister Laura Joplin and then read the story of Jimi Hendrix's life.  A lot of these musicians defined our teen years and they were important for their skills as well as their rise to fame and their sometimes plummet to earth. 

Then listen to Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black and hope she lives at least until she is 27.

Vivian Cruise
Fanny Bay, British Columbia

As a schoolteacher, I would be negligent in failing to recommend a recent re-discovery of the Molesworth books by Geoffrey Williams and Ronald Searle: Down With Skool, How To Be Topp and Whizz For Atomms.  Though thoroughly British, the merest familiarity with even Harry Potter and the institution of boarding school will qualify any reader for the appreciation of this very funnily written and illustrated triptych.  "Revenge of the Prunes", "The Private Live of the Gerund" and "How to Torture Parents" are just three passages that are enough to cause one to chortle audibly (laugh out loud).  By the way, Hogwarts is mentioned in this series, which was written before JK Rowling was born.

Stephen Willcock
Ottawa, Ontario

A great addition to your book list would be Ian Brown's The Boy in the Moon.  This is a non-fiction account of Ian Brown's son Walker who was born with a genetic mutation that profoundly affects his ability to interact with the world.  With honesty and awe the author recounts how his son consumes his life, first with Walker's need to be kept safe and fed and alive, and then with Brown's quest to understand the meaning of Walker's life. This book is beautifully told and affected me deeply.

Tove Wilson
Hawkestone, Ontario


In case I can't get though to the programme today, I would like to recommend two books:Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay,Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Mary Hewitt
Richmond, British Columbia


I would like to recommend " The Book of Negroes" by Canada's Lawrence Hill.  It is an historical fiction about the slave trade, slavery, the abolitionist movement.  The story line crosses oceans, and takes place on 3 continents as it follows a heroic woman's journey through slavery and finally freedom. I have read this book a few times now.  There is now a hard cover version available with photos maps and drawings.  I was recently at out local Museum viewing an exhibit about the underground railroad.  Having previously  read the book of Nergoes, I was able to attach more information and relevancy to the exhibit, attaching history to history!  A great read!

Beatrice Okyere
Surrey, British Columbia


I am now an avid reader and my passion for books was a direct result of reading one book about 7 or 8 years ago.I would highly recommend the book called "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time" by Mark Haddon. The book is about  a teenage boy who has Autism and is investigating the killing of a neighborhood dog. All the while, he deals with the dissolution of his parent's marriage. The book is so uniquely written, as it is written from this boy's perspective.   

It is an absolute delight to read and I hope that others enjoy this one as much as I did.

With Regards,

Chris Massicotte
Elliot Lake, Ontario


I would recommend Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane. Its the story of a beautiful young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, who arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat in East London, and in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu, she fears her soul is quietly dying.  I found the book both moving and  enlightening with regards  to the difficulties immigrants, especially women like Nazeen, must endure when leaving their familiar culture behind and trying to survive in an environment that is challenging and judgmental.

Gloria Troyer
Guelph, Ontario


I'd like to pass along an excellent book I've read recently from the History of Canada series called Victory or Death by Dan Snow.  Dan is the nephew of Margaret McMillian the author of Paris 1919 and his book would definitely make is aunt proud.  The book is about the events leading up to and including the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the capture of Quebec from the French by the British.  It's an excellent retelling of the history filled with details of the many famous people involved and what was going on elsewhere at the time.  I would happily recommend it to anyone.

Mitch Sprague
Ottawa, Ontario


Norman G. Finkelstein, 'This time we went too far'. Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion

Lately I have turned to non-fiction after reading fiction almost exclusively for many years. If you want to get the necessary facts about a central conflict in world politics, facts that are often ommitted from the record of reporting I recommend turning to Finkelstein. A completely different picture of the conflict emerges, one that could lead to a different, more realistic approach to find peace.

Martina Lauer
Chesterville, Ontario


The best summer read in my mind is Kipling's series of stories bound together as "Stalky & Co." about a group of adolescent boys in a British boarding school, much during the summer months, too. The language is brilliant, the characters are very well articulated, and the stores are engaging. A must read. It will leave a positive mark on anyone who reads it.

Mark Heseltine
Edmonton, Alberta


Hi, I am a 14 year old, I live in Knowlton, Quebec and I am going to recommend the Cherub series. The series is about a teenage boy whose life gets totally changed when his mother dies. He is asked to join a secret organization called Cherub. Cherub is spy school but the interesting thing about cherub is that all the spy's are kids. I read the first book in the series and I was completely hooked on the series I just can't put them down they are action packed, thrilling and completely awesome! In every book James has to face a different type of crime.

Angus McAuley
Knowlton, Quebec


I would love to recommend one of my favourite books ever.  "The Channel Shore" by Charles Bruce - published in 1954.  It was his first novel, and celebrates Nova Scotia in many ways.  It writes of family relationships over a period of 27 years (I'm stealing some of this information from the review on the cover of my first edition copy) from 1919 to 1946 -.  It is told in 3 parts - following the family relationships with the underpinning of the pull of land and sea - home and away - at this hardscrabble, rugged and beautiful Channel Shore. It is universal as it addresses the universal hopes, fears, sorrows and joy of all people. Whenever I find a copy of it in a bookstore I pick it up to give to friends, and I reread it frequently.Thank you for the wonderful program.

Dianne MacPhee
Wolfville, Nova Scotia


Brother I'm Dying  by Edwidge Danticat

Beautiful book about two brothers in Haiti.  One is the author's father who leaves his children with his brother in Haiti while he and his wife emigrate to New York.  The uncle and his wife are loving people who take in a variety of children for mainly the same reason.  About twelve years later the children are sent to New York to their parents, and the family ties remain very strong. 

As the two brothers age and suffer various illnesses the author flies to help both of them.  Also included are decades of history of the political situation in Haiti.

Jean Gordon
Vancouver, British Columbia


 "Canada's Forgotten Heroes" by John Mellor.

A vivid firsthand account of the failed Dieppe mission during the second world war. Never has history been more gripping, clear and intense than within the pages of this excellent document. The psychology of war, the brutality and sacrifice is expressed with such a great passion; one could burn through these two hundred pages in hours.

Thanks - love your show.

Nat Meissner
Gatineau,  Quebec



The books I would like to recommend are the book The Politics of Blindness by Graeme McCreath. This book talks about the history of services for blind and visually impaired people in Canada including the cnib and how things can be improved. I liked it because as someone who is blind myself I really found that I could relate to allot of the frustrations that the author puts forth as someone who is blind as well. another book I would like to recommend is Ned Kelly A Short life. this is by Ian Jones and is about the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly who lived from 1855 until 1880. this was such a exciting story since it was a true story and it was one of those under dog stories. Ned was a real person who might have been a bad guy but he was one of the good bad guys. well those are my recommendations.

Mich Verrier
New Liskeard, Ontario


I'd like to recommend the novel "The Rose Garden" by Susanna Kearsley.

She's a Canadian writer but writes wonderful romantic suspense novels similar in feel to Barbara Michaels or Mary Stewart, usually set in England or Europe. This book, her newest one, is set mainly in Cornwall and deals with time travel, smugglers, heirloom roses, and True Love. The main character has a strong, sympathetic voice and all the elements of time travel make sense within the book -- and there is a fantastic ending!

It is great summer reading; fun, adventurous, romantic without being risqué, and a great vacation in itself. I've really enjoyed all of her books but this one really shows her at the top of her game.

Stratford, Ontario


For any family of school aged children on a road trip, I recommend the 
audio book recordings of Lemony Snickett's "A Series of Unfortunate 
Events". It is exquisitely read by the actor Tim Rice with flair, 
humour and drole sarcasm. The books follow the efforts of three 
bright, orphaned siblings to prevent their greedy uncle from taking 
their inheritance. To this day, my husband, 2 children and I quote 
from the series, in the voice characters of Tim Rice. In fact, we even 
named our 3rd daughter after a despicable character in the book, Esmé 
Squalor "the 6th most important financial advisor in the city", (a coy 
reference to the JD Salinger story).

There are 12 books in the series, but one must start in the "Bad 
Beginning" as Violet, Klaus and Sunny start out their quest to 
understand what has happened to their parents.

A great summer pick that even adults will enjoy for its humour, 
intelligence and resilience!

Carmen Larsen
Edmonton, Alberta


I read Terry Fallis' "The Best Laid Plans" right alongside the five week federal elections campaign, which was really neat, as it was the story of Angus McLintock, a combination of teddy bear and highlander, recently widowed, engineering professor, who would rather let his name stand as a Liberal candidate in Cumberland-Prescott, a staunchly-Conservative riding near Ottawa, than teach English to first-year engineering students. It was particularly fun in light of the fact that a few of our new MP's have been unexpectedly elected, as well.  Angus makes the best of it and then some. The day I finished it I went to get "The High Road", the sequel, which I enjoyed just as much.  McLintock, the main character, just might be your dream MP.   These two books are hilarious and refreshing and terrific summer reads.

Neeta Kumar-Britten
Sydney, Nova Scotia


For readers who are going through withdrawal from the Steig Larsson series, check out Henning Mankell's "The Man From Beijing" or any of the Wallender series.   Books on CD are also impressive this year, when I'm not listening to CBC, a good mystery really makes a long slow drive in the rain a little less dreary.  "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley is great, and anything by James Patterson, and for a rare treat, check out "When God Was a Rabbit", which is read by the author.  Not a mystery, but a touching turning of age story.  Thanks for the show, Rex.  What a treat to talk about books on a rare sunny Sunday.

Kim Campbell
Fall River, Nova Scotia


Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein.

Excellent book, especially for young people.  Heinlein tells a story of a mysterious young man on a mysterious journey and uses his tale to explore the different costs that must be paid for the various levels of freedom people enjoy.

Should be required reading for grade 7 or 8.

George Latta
Lethbridge, Alberta


I would like to most heartily recommend a novel of alternate history "Redcoat's Revenge" by Col. David Fitz-Ens, U.S. Army (Ret.)

What would have happened if the Duke of Wellington had come to Canada to crush the Yankees just as he crushed Napoleon.  Will North America be colored Red or Blue?

During the period of Napoleon's exile on Elba Wellington brings a very large army of Peninsular War veterans and attacks The United States with a much different ending to the War of 1812..

Lorne Prince
Georgina, Ontario


I Want to recommend Young Art and Old Hector by Neil M Gunn, amazing book by scottish author about a relationship between an 8 year old boy and an old man in a Scottish crofting community the story is both deep and magical. The writing has passages which are unforgettable. There is a surprising sequel "the green isle of the great deep". Will captivate

Timothy Rapsey
New Tusket, Nova Scotia


I recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary An Shaffer and Annie Barrows.This book is mostly a series of correspondence between inhabitants of the Guernsey Islands and a writer from England.  It takes place during the second world war.  It has wonderful characters which touch ones heart and helps the reader to understand the heroism and privations that ordinary people suffered through the war.  It is charming and a wonderful read.

Barbara Robinson
Courtenay, British Columbia


One of the best reads of the last  few years has been "Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum" by Richard Fortey. The book covers his career at the Museum, and delves into the hidden corners he found in his spare time. It mentions for instance, the curator who kept a box labeled "Bits of string too short to be of use", and a few other idiosyncrasies, some of which may sound a little odd on-air. It is, however, a superb personal history of a magnificent institution and the people who made it so, all written with a dry humor. The building is so complicated, he claims that he never did find the Mineral Department.

Quintin Wight
Ottawa, Ontario


I've read a lot of books over the years, many classics, books I've learned from, laughed at and teared-up over ...but the book I found to simply be the most enjoyable to read would have to be 'A Forest For Callum' by Frank MacDonald. 'A Forest For Callum' is a novel set in a rural, maritime village about 70 years ago, and it is blessed with the charm and humour Frank MacDonald is known for, not mention his sharp Cape Breton wit. I highly recommend this for anyone, but of course, those with any connection at all to Atlantic Canada will immediately value its story.

Dwayne MacEachern
Judique, Nova Scotia


I came into the house just as the broadcast was ending, but I have a suggestion for a Canadian Book List.  I've just read a copy of Son of the North, biography Charles Camsell which was lent to me by a friend.  It was first published in 1954 and I searched on the internet and found it can still be purchased. 

Camsell was born at Fort Liard in 1876; which was at the time very isolated and remote.  He had a most interesting and eventful life and I found it to be very interesting, entertaining and informative about northern Canada. 

This book has given me a interest in reading more about Canada's history.

Marguerite Skinner
Blind Bay, British Columbia


A wonderful first book of a Trilogy written by Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth--just mentioned on your informative show) is a story of Five Families from around the world during the First World War and Russian Revolution.Fabulous Read!. The second book will come out in 2012 and will follow these families into the Second World War. The third  book will be set during the cold war.

Glenda Nieman
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


I recommend "Grayson"  by Lynne Cox.  It is a true story of a 17 year old swimmer in California who was training in the ocean for a big swim  In her last 1/2 mile back to the pier, she encounters a baby gray whale, 18' long ! She could tell something was swimming with her because of how the other fish were reacting.  She thought at first it was a shark.  The baby would suffer from dehydration if she didn't get it back to its mother.  It is very compelling and I was amazed how the girl had the energy to swim so far to take the baby on its journey back out to the ocean.  I just loved it especially because it is a true story.


Gail Cox
Toronto, Ontario



I read this book just before the writ was dropped for the recent election.

Deverell is a first-rate author of legal thrillers and this one takes him into the realms of Canadian Political Thrillers (a very small kingdom).

Arthur Beauchamp, the protagonist of Deverell's last 3 novels is married to Margaret Balke, the first elected member of the Green Party Of Canada (Cowichan and the Islands).

Deverell beautifully and hilariously lampoons Canadian politics. The hastily arranged meeting in the Chateau Laurier between the Conservative Attorney General and Robert "Stoney" Stonewell, a "respected businessman" from Garibaldi Island brought tears of laughter to my eyes.

At the same time, Deverll maintains the suspense right through to the final paragraph. International intrigue, thinly veiled political and corporate corruption, and a complex plot lead me to read this in just 2 evenings.

As an avid, somewhat cynical watcher of Canadian politics, this book had me laughing out loud. As soon as I finished it, I went on line and sent copies to several people.

Peter Hanson
Fort McMurray, Alberta


My husband and I would like to recommend 'Mornings in Jenin' by Susan Abulhawa. It is the story of several generations of a Palestinian family going up to present day. One of the brothers gets separated from the family as an infant and is raised in Israel. It is a well-written, thought provoking novel which presents the Israel/Palestine story from many points of view. A very good read and educational at the same time.

Jackie Leppard
Hubbards, Nova Scotia


Anne Marie McDonald's The Way the Crow Flies is without a doubt the best book I have ever read. I think she is a genius and truly wish she would write more novels. Another interesting read is Jeannette Walls "Glass Castle". This is a true story, astounding.

Deb Kosolofski
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Every morning I read a page from  2001 The Canadian Oxford Dictionary - 344 pages / mornings done - only about 1400 left. Every day a few glimpses into our wonderful language. I highly recommended to those interested in the words that see us through life.

Dave Stobbe
Winler, Manitoba

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