The CBC Books summer reading list: 33 books to check out this season
Summer is here! It's the perfect season to read a good book. We have 33 suggestions for you, from Canada and around the world, from YA to fiction to poetry to comics. There's something for everyone on this list.
Elizabeth Acevedo's second novel, With the Fire on High, is about a young woman named Emoni Santiago. Emoni got pregnant as a freshman in high school and dreams of being a chef. Most people have dismissed her, but she's determined to raise her daughter, Babygirl, the best she can. When her high school offers a cooking class, Emoni sees it as an opportunity to follow her dreams while still being there for her daughter. With the Fire on High is a well-written and moving story.
Elizabeth Acevedo won the 2019 Carnegie Medal for her debut book The Poet X.
When Zayneb gets suspended for standing up to a xenophobic teacher, she's sent to her aunt's house in Doha, Qatar for an early spring break. She ends up meeting Adam, a teenager trying to hide his multiple sclerosis diagnosis from his grieving father.
British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus's new collection, The Perseverance, explores his Jamaican heritage, his complicated relationship with his late father and his experience growing up deaf ― a diagnosis he received when he was six years old.
The Perseverance is the first book of poetry ever to win the U.K.'s prestigious Rathbones Folio Prize and was a finalist for the 2019 International Griffin Poetry Prize.
Scholarship student Samantha Heather Mackey feels like an outsider at her elite university, especially when it comes to her fiction writing class. That's where she first encounters the Bunnies, a comically tight-knit group of annoying rich girls who invite Samantha to their exclusive "Smut Salon." Against her better judgment, Samantha is drawn into the Bunnies' orbit.
Mona Award's previous novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
A young woman determinedly makes her way to the Countess's castle, where many have gone but never returned. When I Arrived at the Castle is a gothic horror comic from Stratford, Ont.-based artist Emily Carroll, whose first two books Through the Woods, a collection of horror comics, and Speak, an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's YA novel, were published to critical acclaim.
Toronto artist Michael DeForge collects his Instagram comic Leaving Richard's Valley in book form, following the fates of Omar the Spider, Neville the Dog and Ellie Squirrel as they risk the wrath of a beloved but tyrannical leader in order to save their friend, Lyle the Raccoon. When exposed, the three friends are kicked out of the only home they've ever known and make their way to the big city for a fresh start.
Leaving Richard's Valley won the Slate Book Review and Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies's Cartoonist Studio Prize for best web comic in 2018.
Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here is an exploration of the ways we disguise and minimize ourselves for the sake of survival. As a child, Habib hid her faith from Islamic extremists in Pakistan and later, as a refugee in Canada, endured racist bullying, but later came into her own as a proud queer Muslim woman. In travelling the world and exploring art and sexuality, Habib searches for the truth of her identity. We Have Always Been Here is Habib's first book.
This debut novel from Calgary writer Tyler Hellard follows a struggling sportswriter who travels to a small maritime town to interview his estranged father — a reclusive and notorious hockey player — as a last-ditch effort to save his career.
In The Chai Factor, Farah Heron's debut novel, Amira Khan is dedicated to her career and finishing grad school. But when her grandmother rents out the family's basement apartment to a barbershop quartet, Amira can't focus. And when she begins to clash with the group's leader, Duncan, things only get worse. The Chai Factor is a romantic comedy about opposites colliding and how little inconveniences can become life-changing if you open up.
Tracker, a well-respected hunter who always works alone, is hired to find a boy who has been missing for three years. He ends up joining a band of unusual characters, including a 'shape-shifting man-animal' called Leopard, all engaged in the hunt. As they traverse ancient cities and forests and face deadly beasts, Tracker wonders why this boy is so special and finds himself caught in a web of lies.
Marlon James previously won the Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.
Every Little Piece of Me revolves around the friendship of two women, Ava and Mags, whose every humiliation is tabloid fodder. Ava grew up on a hit reality television show where her big city family runs a small town B&B. Mags is the lead singer of a troubled Halifax rock band. Every Little Piece of Me is Amy Jones's sophomore novel, following the national bestseller We're All in This Together.
Jones won the 2006 CBC Short Story Prize.
Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor based in Vancouver and the international bestselling author of 10 books. His latest, We All Fall Down, is a thriller about the black death. Set both in the past and present, Kalla explores the plague caused in the medieval period, and how its effects would be felt if it were to break out today.
- What would happen if we had a modern pandemic? That's the question at the heart of Daniel Kalla's new novel
As the son of a humble tailor, Danio Cerra rose through the ranks of society with his incredible intelligence. He's unhappily employed at the court of a count whose nickname is 'the Beast,' but fate throws him a bone in the form of Adria Ripoli, an assassin who traded her family's wealth for freedom.
Rukhsana Ali is 17 and balancing the expectations of her conservative Muslim parents with her desire to wear crop tops and date girls. When Rukhsana is caught kissing her girlfriend Ariana, she is sent to Bangladesh where she discovers her grandmother's old diary and is inspired to stand up for herself to her family.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is B.C. writer Sabina Khan's first novel.
Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are sent to Quebec where a community is reeling in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque. Fuelling tensions is the arrest of a young Muslim man who was reported to be assisting the wounded, while a priest found holding a weapon was let go.
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie is an unexpectedly funny story about a woman named Diane whose husband of 25 years says she's too boring to stay with, so he leaves her for a younger woman. Diane dreams up ways to get her husband back, torture his new girlfriend and move on with the support of her best friend and three children.
Autopsy of a Boring Wife was translated from French by Arielle Aaronson.
When the Quinlan family gathers at a vast rainforest property for the reading of their patriarch's will, they discover that in order to receive their inheritance, they must isolate themselves at the estate for 30 days. In the month that follows, chilling family secrets emerge about their father's true intentions.
In this dystopian novel, women are paid to stay at a luxury retreat with daily massages, personal trainers and organic meals. The catch is that for nine months they are not allowed to leave and must be cut off from their former lives while they produce a baby for someone else. When a woman named Jane arrives at The Farm to be a host, she is desperate to reconnect with her life on the outside.
Michael Redhill — who won the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Bellevue Square — returns to his roots as a poet. Twitch Force marks his first collection of poetry in 18 years and brings together poems grounded in the satirical and profound. Redhill looks at topics such as the family construct, the nature of beauty, love, loss and despair.
Told in a series of transcribed interviews, Daisy Jones & The Six tells the story of a legendary 1970s rock group that mysteriously broke up at the height of their fame. The two central characters of the book are Billy Dunne, the leader of The Six who has a drug problem, and Daisy Jones, a singer with a soulful voice and a gift for songwriting. Daisy Jones and The Six make it big together, but a power struggle over creative control creates tension in the group.
Film and television rights for Daisy Jones & The Six have been acquired by Reese Witherspoon, who is producing a 13-episode adaptation for Amazon.
Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being perennially caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Over a series of 12 stories, Davis visits her great aunt in Jamaica, endures a cruel prank by close friends and deals with her stubborn grandparents. Frying Plantain is Zalika Reid-Benta's first book.
Your Life is Mine is a page-turning thriller about Blanche, the daughter of a notorious murderer and cult leader. Her father killed himself after a shooting spree more than 20 years ago, but when Blanche learns her mother was murdered, she must return home and learns there's more to her family's story than she could have ever imagined — and that the cult her father founded might be making a comeback.
Normal People follows the lives of Connell Waldron, a popular football star from a poor family, and Marianne Sheridan, a teenage outcast from a wealthy background. Despite being opposites in many ways, Connell and Marianne form a lifelong friendship, straying in and out of romance along the way.
The Youth of God follows Nuur, a smart and gifted 17-year-old boy living in a Somali neighborhood in Toronto. Two adults, a Muslim imam and a dedicated teacher, are both trying to influence him and shape his future.
Hassan Ghedi Santur is a journalist who has worked for CBC Radio. He is also the author of the novels Something Remains and the nonfiction book Maps of Exile.
Bina is an experimental novel that follows the title character, a 74-year-old Irish woman who is part of an underground group that helps people to die on their own terms. However, when her best friend Phil wishes to die, Bina is reluctant to help. Written in brief fragments, Bina explores female friendships, love and death through darkness and humour.
Anakana Schofield is the author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Martin John and Amazon.ca First Novel Award winner Malarky.
From childhood, Lorimer Shenher knew he was a boy, though he was being raised as a girl. In This One Looks Like a Boy, Shenher tells his story of struggling with gender dysphoria before finally coming to accept he is trans and undergoing surgery in his 50s. Shenher is also the author of the book That Lonely Section of Hell, in which he describes his experiences working on the case of serial killer Robert Pickton.
26 Knots weaves a complicated love story: Araceli falls for a fellow journalist named Adrien, who is already in love with Pénélope, who can't decide between him and Gabriel, who is too traumatized by his father's abandonment to be a good partner.
26 Knots is Montreal pediatrician Bindu Suresh's debut novel.
This YA graphic novel is about a teenage girl named Freddy who can't seem to quit her girlfriend, the popular, enigmatic Laura Dean. Though they keep breaking up and getting back together, Freddy frets over whether to forgive Laura's many indiscretions — all the while taking her friendships for granted.
Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning Canadian comics writer, contributing to Marvel and DC Comics, based in Oakland, California.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is an award-winning poet whose collections include the Trillium Book Award winner Light and ReLit Award winner Small Arguments. Cluster is her fourth book. It collects a wide-ranging group of ruminations on nature, family and politics written in Thammavongsa's celebrated minimalist style.
Moccasin Square Gardens is a collection of humorous short fiction set in Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. Richard Van Camp's stories involve extraterrestrials, illegal wrestling moves and the legendary Wheetago, human-eating monsters who have come to punish the greed of humanity.
In On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, a man in his late 20s writes a moving, history-spanning letter to his mother, who is illiterate. The narrator, Little Dog, looks back on his ancestors in Vietnam and examines how his family history has shaped him and the secrets he bears. Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet whose book Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award and others.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is Vuong's first novel.
When Samra Zafar was 15 years old, she was told by her mother that a great match had been found, and she was to be married — to a man who lived in Canada and was 11 years older than her. Despite having her own dreams and goals, Zafar got married, moved to a new country and started a family. But when her relationship became abusive, Zafar knew she must leave and build a new life for her children. Zafar has written about her experience in the book A Good Wife.
This Place is an anthology of comics featuring the work of Indigenous creators as they retell the history of Canada of the past 150 years. Elements of fantasy and magical realism are incorporated throughout the book, telling the stories of characters like Jack Fiddler, an Anishinaabe shaman facing murder charges, and Rosie, an Inuk girl growing up during the Second World War.