Day 6

Should I Read It: The ultimate summer reading giveaway

Every summer cottage getaway brings up the same dilemma: what books to pack in your beach bag? Becky Toyne walks us through her five hand-picked selections.
(Little, Brown and Company, Penguin Random House Canada, Alfred P. Knoff, Hogarth, Caiaimage/Getty)

Summer's a time to kick back on the beach with a book in hand. The challenge every year, however, is which books should you add your stack? Have no fear! Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne is back, just like the warm ocean tides, to give you five recommendations. And if you're lucky, we'll also give you a complete set for your library, should you win our giveaway. 


Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki 

Known for her novel, California, American author Lepucki steps away from dystopian fiction to write about living in the Hollywood Hills. While not noir exactly, the book has a similar feel, focusing on the old secrets around writer Lady Daniels, and her odd nanny who goes by S. It'll scratch the same itch as thrillers like a Girl on the Train or Gone Girl

Becky says:

"It's a story a little bit about motherhood; it is about art. It's one of those brilliant summertime reads that I love for the fact that the characters in it are so self-involved and sort of awful, but at the same time you're like: 'You're horrible people! Must keep reading!'"

(Alfred L. Knoff)

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Though at first glance it looks like a gritty coming of age story, there's a lot more intrigue once you start digging in. Coming off the Giller-shortlisted Monkey Beach, Robinson's new book follows Jared, a teenaged boy living in small-town British Columbia. At first, he's just trying to pay off his family's debts while avoiding the wrath of his mother. The book makes the slow slide into the supernatural, as birds start talking to Jared, though he initially thinks he's just stoned.

Becky says:

"There's an amazing way that Eden Robinson manages to write quite violent scenes. Jared's mother is one heck of woman. She really loves her son, but you do not want to cross her. She does some pretty mean things to other people that are violent and also just sort of hilarious because you can just see the huge big love love she has for her son."

(Hamish Hamilton)

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

From British author Levy is another story focused on motherhood, this time as a young woman takes her mother for treatment in a Spanish village. The mother has paralysis from unknown cause and is forced to find help from a doctor who may be a quack. Meanwhile, her daughter tries to find herself on the Spanish coast. Though this isn't a new novel, it was short-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and is out now in paperback. 

Becky says:

"It's beachy and light in some ways, but also has simmering in the background all the economic problems in Europe and the fact that here is a highly educated woman working in a coffee shop."

(Little, Brown and Company)

Sting-Ray Afternoons by Steve Rushin

This touching nostalgic memoir from Sports Illustrated writer Rushin follows his childhood growing up in 1970s America. The book has a vivid and comedic approach to his personal touchstones for the era, whether it's pens or the Steve Miller Band. Rushin's novel is a good fit for dads looking to remember what growing up felt like, though the author conveys that feeling effectively to those just looking for a reason to reminisce for an era they never knew. 

Becky says:

"The book is so littered with references to commercials, and pop music and Sting-ray Afternoons is a reference to the stingray bikes they all used to ride. So even if it's not your own personal nostalgic — I was not a boy, I did not grow up in America, I was not alive for most of the '70s — but I still identify with all of the nostalgia in this book. It's a great, great read."

(Little, Brown and Company)

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie

A contrast to Steve Rushin's childhood experience, Alexie follows his relationship with his mother in a memoir prompted by her death. The book is a mix of prose and poetry, and is written in such a way that you can almost open it up at random and find a touching, difficult or funny memory. Alexie was even born in the same year as Rushin, showing that not everyone had the same experience growing up in North America. 

​Becky says:

"When I first looked at this book ... I opened it at random to and read two-page poem and was weeping by the end of it. It's a meditation on grief."

The ultimate summer book giveaway

If you want to get a complete collection of these books, you just need to answer this question: With which fictional character would you want to be stuck on a tropical island?

Becky's character of choice is Pride and Prejudice's gallant Mr. Darcy, while Brent had more of a preference for who he wouldn't want to be stuck with — every character in Lord of the Flies. Rule of thumb: don't get stuck alone with British children, even if they have a neat-looking conch. 

Now, give it shot. Send your tropical island buddy's name to day6@cbc. Just remember to put BOOKS in the subject line and include your mailing address with your answer.

We only have two sets of these books to giveaway, and we'll be picking two people at random. 

To hear Becky Toyne's summer reading list, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.