The CBC Books summer reading list: 18 cool books to read while the weather heats up

Check out these must-read books to celebrate the warmer weather.

Check out these must-read books — including fiction, nonfiction and international — to celebrate the warmer weather.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje is the celebrated author of works such as The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion. (McClelland & Stewart)

Michael Ondaatje, author of the acclaimed novel The English Patient, is once again writing about the Second World War. Set in London in 1945, the novel tells the tale of two young siblings who have been separated from their parents in the aftermath of the Nazi bombings.

Adjacentland by Rabindranath Maharaj

Rabindranath Maharaj is an award-winning writer of several works, including The Amazing Absorbing Boy. Adjacentland is his most recent novel. (Vicky Maharaj/Wolsak & Wynn)

Novelist and short story writer Rabindranath Maharaj — whose last novel was 2010's The Amazing Absorbing Boy — returns with Adjacentland. The dreamlike tale revolves around a former comic book writer who one day awakens in a strange institution called the Compound with no memory of his past.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead. (sweetmoon photography, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Joshua Whitehead's debut novel — and follow-up to his 2017 collection of poetry full-metal indigiqueer — is about a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer young man who must reckon with his past when he returns home to his reserve.

Vi by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman

Kim Thúy is a Vietnamese-born Canadian author. (Penguin Random House/Benoit Levac)

Named after its narrator, Kim Thúy's novel Vi is the story of a young, prosperous family's escape from the Vietnam War to a new life in Quebec. Vi, the youngest of four children, paints loving portraits of those closest to her — her mother, her brothers, a family friend named Ha — and quietly grows into her own as an independent young woman. Thúy is also the author of Mãn and Ru, which won Canada Reads 2015 and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Marry, Bang, Kill by Andrew Battershill

Marry, Bang, Kill is Andrew Battershill's second novel. ( Lane)

Marry, Bang, Kill is about a low-level thief named Tommy Marlo and the trouble he gets into after stealing from the daughter of a high-ranking member of a motorcycle gang. Andrew Battershill's debut novel, Pillow, appeared on the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2016. 

That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is a writer and educator based in Toronto. (Sarah Couture McPhail/HarperCollins)

That Time I Loved You is a collection of interconnected short stories, set in 1970s Scarborough, that peel back the shiny veneer of civility and delves in the underlying tensions and issues of the families in the community. Carrianne Leung, who is also the author of The Wondrous Woo, drew much of her inspiration from her childhood in Toronto's east end for her latest work. 

Property Values by Charles Demers

Charles Demers is a comedian and the author of the novel Property Values. (Charlie Demers, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Charles Demers is a Juno Award-nominated comedian and author. His crime novel Property Values uses comedy to explore themes of urban gentrification, gang violence and the challenges of purchasing a new home in the modern world. 

I've Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy

I've Been Meaning to Tell You is David Chariandy's latest book. (McClelland & Stewart, Joy van Tiedemann)

In I've Been Meaning to Tell You, David Chariandy contemplates how to talk to his young daughter about the politics and history of race by sharing their family's story and his personal experience as the son of Black and South Asian migrants from Trinidad.

Hard To Do by Kelli María Korducki

Kelli Korducki is a journalist and author of Hard To Do. (Coach House Books)

In Hard To Do, Kelli María Korducki explores the history and politics of contemporary romantic relationships and how the endings of such relationships has changed throughout time.

The Never-Ending Present by Michael Barclay

Michael Barclay is a music journalist and and author of The Never-Ending Present: The Story of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip. (Liz Sullivan/ECW Press)

In The Never-Ending Present, music writer Michael Barclay chronicles how five high school students from Kingston, Ont., became Canadian music legends. The Tragically Hip, fronted by the late enigmatic lyricist Gord Downie, sold more than eight million albums and won 16 Juno Awards over their storied career playing songs about Canada.

The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi

Tima Kurdi is a spokesperson and the co-founder of the Kurdi Foundation. (Simon & Schuster Canada/Maxine Bulloch)
When a photo of the body of Tima Kurdi's nephew, Alan, washed ashore, Kurdi became a spokesperson for the refugee crisis in Syria. From sharing her own story, growing up in Damascus and emigrating to Canada at 22, Kurdi provides the human side of a story that's dominated the news cycle.

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an American author. (Adrianne Mathiowetz Photography/Simon & Schuster)

In her debut collection, Nafissa Thompson-Spires explores the contemporary middle class and what it means to be Black. It takes an introspective look at the Black experience within pop culture including sitcoms, comic books and video games.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer is the author of many novels, including The Interestings and her latest, The Female Persuasion. (Nina Subin, Penguin Random House)

The author of The Interestings delivers this layered work that plays with themes of ambition, power, friendship and loyalty as characters figure out the type of people they want to be. 

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room is Rachel Kushner's third novel. (Lucy Raven/Simon and Schuster)

This unsentimental take at life in a women's correctional facility is a tragic look at violence, hopelessness and survival. Set in 2003, The Mars Room follows Romy Hall as she begins to serve two life sentences and learns to navigate her new prison life while grappling with the world moving on outside the prison walls. Rachel Kushner's previous book, Flamethrowers, was nominated for the U.S. National Book Award. 

Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk 

Chuck Palahniuk's new novel Adjustment Day is out now. (Allan Amato, WW Norton)

Chuck Palahniuk sees his new novel Adjustment Day as a companion to his iconic book Fight Club, which was adapted into film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. The book is just as dark and even more violent. It brings readers into a time and place where young men have launched a violent revolution that involves murder, brutality and racial and gender divides.

Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard continues his Seasons quartet with the memoir Spring. (Sam Barker/Knopf Canada)

In Spring, the third volume of the Seasons quartet, we follow Karl Ove and his three-month-old daughter, Anna, over the course of one day in April, from sunrise to sunset: a day filled with routine, the beginnings of life and its light, but also its deep struggles and its darkness.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya is a human rights activist and author of The Girl Who Smiled Beads. (Julia Zave/Penguin Random House Canada)

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when she and her family fled the Rwandan massacre in 1994. Her memoir reflecting on the brutal nature of war and the innocents caught up in it is a reminder of the importance of love and empathy in a cold world. 

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is the author of So You Want To Talk About Race. (Submitted by Ijeoma Oluo)

Ijeoma Oluo explores the reality of race and racism today, from Black Lives Matter to intersectionality, and argues that we all need to acknowledge that racism is not an accusation, but a fact of living in North America.


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