The CBC Books summer reading list: 45 cool books to read while the weather heats up
It's officially summertime! Looking for a good read? Check out this list of the buzzworthy Canadian and international fiction and nonfiction books out right now.
In his memoir, Elamin Abdelmahmoud recounts his experience leaving his native Sudan and moving to Kingston, Ont. Like all teens, he spent his adolescence trying to figure out who he was, but he had to do it while learning to balance a new racial identity and all the assumptions that came with being Black and Muslim.
Son of Elsewhere explores how our experiences and environments can define our identity and who we truly are.
Abdelmahmoud is the host of CBC's weekly pop culture podcast Pop Chat, co-host of CBC's political podcast Party Lines and a frequent culture commentator for CBC News. He's a culture writer for BuzzFeed News, where he also writes Incoming, the daily morning newsletter.
Remnants is an exploration of family relationships and perception. Filled with questionnaires, photographs, dream documentation and dialogue, author Céline Huyghebaert reveals a father-daughter relationship shaped by silence and missed opportunities.
Remnants was the winner of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction.
Céline Huyghebaert is a French-born Canadian writer and artist. She was awarded the Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art in 2019. Huyghebaert lives in Montreal.
Aleshia Jensen is a French-to-English literary translator. Her recent work includes The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle and Prague by Maude Veilleux. Jensen lives in Montreal.
Yawd is a debut cookbook by Top Chef Canada star Adrian Forte. The book highlights the key ingredients of Afro-Caribbean cuisine and features a variety of fusion recipes, including oxtail gnocchi, coconut fried chicken, spiced steamed fish and more.
Adrian Forte is a Jamaican-born Canadian chef, culinary consultant and author. Forte starred on the television show Top Chef Canada and operates YAWD, a modern Caribbean pop-up restaurant based in Toronto.
Kit Dobson reflects on how little modern-day humans interact with the natural world and how that has changed our place within it. Field Notes on Listening is a response to our lack of connection with the land, the difficult history of how many came to be here and what we could discover if we listened to the world around us. From Dobson's lost family farm to climate change and the effects of late-stage capitalism, the book moves through time to grapple with growing challenges.
Dobson is a writer, editor and professor. His work includes Transnational Canadas: Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization, Producing Canadian Literature: Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace and Malled: Deciphering Shopping in Canada. Dobson teaches in the Department of English at the University of Calgary.
The concept behind the book Rehearsals for Living formed during the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. Authors Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson began writing each other letters — a gesture sparked by a desire for kinship and connection during a trying time. Rooted in Black and Indigenous perspectives on race, gender and class, Rehearsals for Living is an epistolary dialogue about the world we live in and a need for change.
Maynard is a Montreal-based Black feminist writer, activist and educator. Maynard's writing and work focus on documenting racist and gender-based state violence. Her debut book, Policing Black Lives, traced the underreported modern and historical realities of anti-Blackness within a Canadian context.
Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, activist, musician, artist, author and member of Alderville First Nation. Her work often centres on the experiences of Indigenous Canadians. Her books include Islands of Decolonial Love, This Accident of Being Lost, As We Have Always Done and Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies.
Set in Montreal during the 1967 Expo, the nosy Audrey Parker and her dad have just moved to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Audrey pays attention to every detail, but only one mystery really matters to her: Audrey wants to know who her mother was, how she died, and why her father won't talk about it.
Nosy Parker follows Audrey from childhood to adolescence, where she eventually discovers the truth about her mother.
Lesley Crewe is a Nova Scotia columnist, screenwriter and author of several novels, including Beholden, Mary, Mary, Amazing Grace, Chloe Sparrow, Kin, The Spoon Stealer and Relative Happiness, which has been adapted into a feature film. Crewe won the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction for The Spoon Stealer, which was also on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist.
All the Seas of the World is a historical fantasy tale of treachery, destiny, memory and power. Two people are set on an epic mission to destroy the balance of power in a region. What happens next is an atmospheric story of fate, vengeance and political intrigue.
Guy Gavriel Kay has published 13 novels and is a familiar name on bestseller lists around the globe. His Fionavar Tapestry fantasy series has sold over a million copies worldwide since being published in the 1980s and has been optioned by the Canadian production company behind the hit series Orphan Black. Some of Kay's other titles include Children of Earth and Sky, Tigana and River of Stars. In 2014, he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
Every Summer After is a coming-of-age novel involving friendship, romance and forgiveness told over the course of six years and one weekend. Childhood summer friends Percy and Sam were inseparable — until a fateful moment forced them apart. Years later, a funeral draws them together once more to navigate love, loss and broken hearts.
Carley Fortune is a Canadian journalist who's worked as an editor for Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Toronto Life. Every Summer After is the Toronto-based author's debut novel.
Rollie Pemberton is best known by his stage name, Cadence Weapon. The Edmonton-born rapper won the 2021 Polaris Prize for his album Parallel World. His memoir, Bedroom Rapper, intertwines his own personal journey in the music industry with an in-depth exploration of the history of hip hop.
Pemberton's writing has been published in Pitchfork, The Guardian, Wired and Hazlitt. Currently based in Toronto, he is a former poet laureate for the City of Edmonton.
The Full Catastrophe is a novel that involves themes of identity, community and belonging. Charlie Minkoff, a teen born with intersex traits, lives with his artist mother in downtown Winnipeg. His life revolves around wondering about his absent father and navigating a school life where he is hounded by bullies. But Charlie is determined to have the bar mitzvah he never got — and his quest takes him on a trip of self-discovery.
Méira Cook, who won the CBC Poetry Prize in 2006 and has published five poetry collections, is also the author of the novels The House on Sugarbush Road, which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, Nightwatching, which won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and Once More With Feeling.
Actor Simu Liu details his journey from China to Canada to Hollywood, where he becomes the star of Marvel's first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Born in China, Liu's parents brought him to Canada when he was just four years old. As he grows up, he gets top marks in school, participates in national math competitions and makes his parents proud. But less than a year out of college and disillusioned with the life laid out for him, Liu is determined to carve out his own path.
Liu is an actor and writer best known for his work on Marvel's Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience. He lives in Los Angeles and Toronto.
The sequel to the bestselling book Rachel's Holiday continues the adventures of Rachel Walsh. Rachel lives an uneventful and loving life with a secure job. But when a past lover re-enters her world. Rachel's life is upended and she is forced to reconcile with feelings she thought had long faded.
Marian Keyes is an Irish writer and novelist. Her books include Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, Rachel's Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Anybody Out There and This Charming Man.
In the romance novel Book Lovers, Nora Stephens is a literary agent who loves books and works hard to get the best deals for her author clients. Charlie Lastra is a book editor who is a bit bookish and brooding at times. When the two meet up in North Carolina one summer, the pair realize that they just might be made for each other.
Emily Henry is a New York Times bestselling American author who is best known for her romance novels Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.
In the novel The Immortal King Rao, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers in 1950s India. King Rao will grow up to be the most accomplished tech CEO in the world and, eventually, the leader of a global, corporate-led government. In a future in which the world is run by the Board of Corporations, King's daughter, Athena, reckons with his legacy — literally, for he has given her access to his memories, among other questionable gifts.
Vauhini Vara is an American Canadian writer and technology reporter. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an O. Henry Prize winner.
Selin is back! The bright and curious heroine of Elif Batuman's acclaimed debut novel, The Idiot, is now in her second year at Harvard, still hungry for experience. From awkward sexual encounters to depression to ongoing questions of how to live and to become a writer, that quest leads Selin to some uncomfortable places, but also to self-discovery.
Batuman is a Turkish American novelist. Her work includes the novels The Possessed and The Idiot, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and the Women's Prize for Fiction.
In the novel Lessons in Chemistry, Elizabeth Zott is not your average 1960s woman. She's a chemist and works as the only woman on a team of men at a research facility. An encounter with Calvin Evans leads to a romantic meeting of the minds. A few years later, Zott is a single mother and the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Zott's scientific approach to cooking — and need for revenge — fosters a movement of women looking to change the world.
Bonnie Garmus is an American author, copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine and education.
The Verifiers is a mystery novel featuring Asian American protagonist Claudia Lin, a woman who is working through her issues with family and love. When Lin gets a new job with Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency, she becomes caught up in a mystery of love, technology and personal and corporate deceit.
Jane Pek is an Asian American author who was born in Singapore and is based in New York. Pek's work includes short fiction that has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories.
After Brianna O'Brien dies by suicide, Dr. David Spears blames himself. When he suspects O'Brien's friend is in crisis, he flies to the remote Arctic community of Utqiagvik, Alaska, only to discover that she has disappeared. Spears quickly finds himself caught up in an emotional journey involving a missing persons inquiry and a pharmaceutical cover-up.
Daniel Kalla is an emergency room physician in Vancouver who writes fiction inspired by real-life pandemics.
Constructing a Nervous System is an experimental work that melds elements of memoir and criticism to explore the author's life through a series of vignettes. The result is a literary exploration of what it means to be a Black woman in the modern world.
Margo Lillian Jefferson is an American writer, academic and cultural critic. In 2022, Jefferson was the recipient of a Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in the nonfiction category.
Hearts On Fire documents the Canadian music scene during the pivotal years from 2000 to 2005. Through research and interviews, the nonfiction book explores the Canadian music industry and reveals how the national scene became prominent on the international stage.
Michael Barclay is a Canadian journalist, editor and music critic. He is also the author of The Never-Ending Present and co-author of Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985–95.
Woman, Watching tells the story of Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, who joined the Canadian Red Cross after her husband was killed by Bolsheviks. Louise eventually retreated to her cabin in the wilderness, where she devoted her life to studying the birds in her forest. She was the author of six books and several magazine stories. Her home became a mecca for international ornithologists.
Merilyn Simonds is the author of 18 books, including The Convict Lover, Gutenberg's Fingerprint, and the novel Refuge. She is the founder and first artistic director of the Kingston WritersFest. Simonds divides her time between Kingston, Ont., and Mexico.
The memoir A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman examines Lindy Elkins-Tanton's life and career as a primary investigator for a NASA mission to Psyche, a metal asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. The work is a personal exploration of science, identity, loss, achievement and resilience.
Elkins-Tanton is an American planetary scientist, professor and author with expertise in planet formation and evolution.
When Lila, an Indian-born science journalist, meets a writer named Lucia at a creative writing workshop in Calgary, the two women find their paths entangled. As they work through Lila's story, the women follow the links between a fossil fraud in India, an ice core archive in Canada, the Burgess Shale quarry and a climate change laboratory in Germany. Through their detective work, Lila and Lucia come face to face with ecological grief and today's most fascinating science.
Jaspreet Singh is the author of the novels Chef and Helium, the story collection Seventeen Tomatoes and the poetry collection November. His nonfiction has been published in Granta, Brick: A Literary Journal and the New York Times. Singh lives in Calgary.
Good Mom on Paper is a collection of 20 essays from writers including Heather O'Neill, Lee Maracle, Jael Richardson, Alison Pick and more. The collection is an honest and intimate exploration of the complicated relationship between motherhood and creativity. These essays pick at the often-invisible challenges of literary life as a parent and celebrate the systems that nurture writers who are mothers.
Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning journalist, essayist and the author of four books. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle Canada, The Walrus and elsewhere. Fowles lives in Toronto, where she is working on her fourth novel and a children's book.
Jen Sookfong Lee is a writer from Vancouver. Her books include The Conjoined, which was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; The Better Mother, which was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award; The End of East; and Finding Home.
This is How We Love is the latest novel from award-winning writer Lisa Moore. The novel is set in St. John's and delves into the complexities of familial relationships — asking questions about what makes a family, how family shapes us and whether we really choose who we love.
Moore is a writer from Newfoundland. Her other books include Caught, February, Alligator, Open and Something for Everyone. She has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize three times: in 2002 for Open, in 2005 for Alligator, and in 2013 for Caught. Her novel February won Canada Reads in 2013, when it was defended by comedian Trent McClellan.
The characters in Francine Cunningham's latest short story collection are driven by desperation and presented with moments of choice. From a woman who discovers she is the last human on Earth to a man who goes to God's downtown office in search of advice, these stories flirt with the fantastic and highlight the dualities in human nature.
Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous author, artist and educator from Calgary. Her work includes the book of poems On/Me, which was a finalist for the 2020 Indigenous Voices Awards. Cunningham's writing has also appeared in The Malahat Review, Joyland Magazine and The Puritan Magazine.
Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) explores social status, wealth, desire and female agency. The novel tells the story of Zuhur, an Omani student at a British university who is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she reflects on the relationships that have been central to her life.
Jokha Alharthi is an Omani writer and academic, known for winning the Man Booker International Prize in 2019 for her novel published in English under the title Celestial Bodies.
Counterfeit is a comic caper novel about two Asian American women, Ava Wong and Winnie Fang, who have transformed their counterfeit luxury handbag operation into a global enterprise. Their journey through the worlds of crime and fashion tests their friendship and morality.
Kirstin Chen is a Singaporean writer. She is the author of the novels Soy Sauce for Beginners and Bury What We Cannot Take.
Ordinary Monsters is a historical fantasy novel set in the 1880s. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness — a man made of smoke. When a jaded female detective is recruited to escort them to safety, all three begin a journey into the nature of difference and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.
J.M. Miro is a Canadian author based in British Columbia.
The Woman in the Library is a mystery-within-a-mystery in motion involving four strangers sitting at a table at the Boston Public Library. When a woman's scream pierces the air, the group becomes embroiled in a whodunit as they suspect which one might be the murderer.
Sulari Gentill is an Australian author, also writing under the pen name S.D. Gentill. Her novel Crossing The Lines won the 2018 Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction.
Woman of Light is a historical novel with themes of betrayal, love and fate that spans five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West. Luz "Little Light" Lopez, a tea-leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother is run out of town by a violent mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is an American novelist and short story writer from Denver. Her short stories have appeared in Electric Literature, The American Scholar and the Boston Review. In 2020, she was a National Book Award finalist and American Book Award winner for Sabrina & Corina.
Standing in a River of Time combines poetry and memoir to expose the intergenerational effects of colonization. Jónína Kirton reflects on painful memories, her journey of spiritual healing and the guiding power of her ancestors.
- Jónína Kirton's Standing in a River of Time blends poetry and prose to examine pain, healing & moving forward
Kirton is a Métis author and poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. Her 2018 poetry collection, An Honest Woman, was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Kirton currently lives in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, where she teaches at The Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University.
You Might Be Sorry You Read This is a poetic memoir that explores childhood trauma, abuse and resilience. It is a reflection on identity as it documents how the author discovered her Métis heritage in her late 30s.
Michelle Poirier Brown is a poet, performer, author and photographer. She is nêhiýaw-iskwêw and a citizen of the Métis Nation based on the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx peoples in British Columbia.
The novel In the City of Pigs centres around a failed musician obsessed with avant-garde art. He soon finds himself in a shadowy world where bohemian excess meets the avaricious interests of a real estate cabal.
André Forget was born in Toronto and raised in Mount Forest, Ont. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Puritan, and his work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers in Canada and the United States. He splits his time between Toronto, the United Kingdom and Russia.
Sparring Partners is a collection of three novellas — Homecoming, Strawberry Moon and Sparring Partners — involving legal intrigue, family drama and suspenseful twists and turns.
John Grisham is a bestselling American author. His books have sold 300 million copies around the world and topped the bestseller list 28 consecutive times. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages and made into hit movies, including The Firm, The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill.
In the novel The Lifeguards, the bonds between three picture-perfect but overprotective mothers and their close-knit sons are forever changed one fateful summer. The book is a story of truth, lies and the lengths one goes to protect what they stand for.
Amanda Eyre Ward is a Texas-based author of six novels, including How to Be Lost, Close Your Eyes and The Same Sky.
Half-Bads in White Regalia traces Cody Caetano's unique upbringing living in a rural house with his siblings after his parents split up and left them behind — his mother trying to discover her Anishinaabe roots after finding out her Sixties Scoop origin story and his Portuguese immigrant father drifting aimlessly.
Excerpts from Caetano's memoir won the 2020 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose.
Cody Caetano is a Toronto-based writer of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation. His debut memoir, Half-Bads in White Regalia, was written as part of his Masters in creative writing at the University of Toronto, under the mentorship of the acclaimed late Indigenous writer and academic Lee Maracle.
Tracy Flick Can't Win is a satirical novel featuring the iconic character from the novel Election. The book is about ambition, coming of age, and never really leaving high school politics behind as Tracy, now an assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey, attempts to navigate her current lot in life.
Tom Perrotta is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election and Little Children, both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated films.
The horror novella Helpmeet tells the story of Edward and Louise, a married doctor and nurse who are socially isolated in early-1900s New York City. Louise is looking after Edward as he's dying — but the couple realizes Edward's condition isn't actually a disease after all, but rather something more transformative.
Naben Ruthnum is a Toronto journalist and writer. His 2017 book Curry is an engaging and insightful long-form essay that connects the dots between the popular dish and how it functions as shorthand for brown identity in representing the food, culture and social perception of the South Asian diaspora.
Under the pseudonym of Nathan Ripley, he is the author of Find You in the Dark, which was an Arthur Ellis Awards finalist for best first novel. Your Life Is Mine, his second thriller under the pseudonym, was published in 2019.
Debut novel We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies recounts a Tibetan family's struggle to create new lives of dignity, love and hope after China's invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. Readers follow sisters Lhamo and Tenkyi on a multi-decade journey through exile, from a harrowing trek across the Himalayas to a refugee camp on the border of Nepal.
Decades later, the sisters are separated. Tenyki lives in Toronto with Lhamo's daughter Dolma, who has to decide if it's worth risking her dreams to help her community.
Tsering Yangzom Lama is a Tibetan Canadian author based in Vancouver. Born and raised in Nepal, she's also lived in Toronto and New York City. Lama holds a BA in Creative Writing and International Relations from the University of British Columbia and a MFA from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Globe and Mail, The Malahat Review and Grain.
In the latest novel featuring war-weary ex-intelligence officer Lane Winslow, a shallow grave, a missing person and near-fatal arson keep the sleuth on her toes as she works to solve the latest mystery.
Iona Whishaw is a B.C.-based former educator and social worker and author of the bestselling Lane Winslow mystery series.
How the World Really Works is a nonfiction work that looks at the lasting impact of modern science and technology. This book is a researched "reality check" as it uses data to explain seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity — including our dependency on fossil fuels and the legacy of globalization.
Vaclav Smil is a Canadian author and academic. He is the author of over 40 books on topics including energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment and public policy.
The Music Game is a collection of short fiction that compiles stories about the lives of three friends, Céline, Julie and Sabrina. The trio has drifted apart since their elementary school days in Montreal. As their adult lives unfold, their sense of idealism is worn down by dead-end jobs, break-ups, unaffordable housing and a desire for political change that goes unanswered.
Stéfanie Clermont is a writer from Quebec. The original French version of The Music Game, Le jeu de la musique, was defended on Combat des livres in 2018. This is her first novel.
JC Sutcliffe is a translator who has lived in England, France and Canada. Some of her other translations include Mama's Boy by David Goudreault and Worst Case, We Get Married by Sophie Bienvenu.
The true crime book 22 Murders by Paul Palango is a researched account of the 2020 killing spree in Nova Scotia, and how the bungled response by law enforcement impacted a community. In April 2020, Gabriel Wortman committed multiple shootings and set fires at 16 locations in Nova Scotia, killing 22 people and injuring three others before he was shot and killed by the RCMP.
Paul Palango is a Canadian investigative journalist and author.
Nightcrawling is a novel about race, class and economic insecurity. Kiara and her brother Marcus live in a run-down East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling, or sex work. She becomes involved in a scandal involving law enforcement that threatens to change her life forever.
Leila Mottley is an American author based in California. She was the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and her work has been featured in the New York Times and Oprah Daily. Nightcrawling is her debut novel.