Day 6·Should I Read It?

The Day 6 must-read summer books list for 2019

From humour to historical fiction, Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne has you covered with what to read at the beach.

Books columnist Becky Toyne has you covered with what to read at the beach

(Penguin Random House Canada, House of Anansi Press, Biblioasis, House of Anansi Press, House of Anansi Press)
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With the official start of summer one week away, it's time to recline on the sand and crack open a new beach read.

Resident Day 6 book columnist Becky Toyne has some options for those struggling with what to read next.

From humour to historical fiction, Toyne has all the bases covered.

Here are five books she recommends this summer.

(Penguin Random House Canada)

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm centres around a "gestation retreat" in upstate New York. It's a luxury resort, of sorts, where women are paid to carry children for billionaires.

"It is dystopian with definite echoes of The Handmaid's Tale," said Toyne.

For nine months, women can't leave the retreat and they're surveilled 24 hours a day. Their interactions with the outside world are strictly limited and the majority of women are non-white.

"It is a total page turner. It has slight Downton Abbey qualities to it, just in the way that the class structure is set up and it has a thriller-like quality to it."

(House of Anansi Press)

Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie

This novel is nothing like its title suggests, says Toyne.

Though Diane's husband thinks she's a bore — and has an affair — she sets out to prove him wrong in what's been called the Quebecois Bridget Jones's Diary.

"She's not boring; she's actually so much fun," said Toyne.

"I laughed out loud in public while reading this book," she said. "It has that sort of Bridget Jones quality to it but it's about a grown-up with very different perspective on life and very different stage of life."

(Biblioasis)

Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds

Like Autopsy of a Boring Wife, this novel also begins with a divorce — but that's where the similarities end.

When Kristen becomes obsessed with the handsome lead actor of a popular British TV show named Henry, she sets out to find him.

Meanwhile, Henry (think Benedict Cumberbatch) is chasing his own dreams of being a serious actor — and dealing with an obsessive American fan.

"So this is a story about fame and about hype and about an unreality and obsession," Toyne said.

(House of Anansi Press)

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Reid-Benta's debut book is a collection of linked short stories centred on a young, second-generation Canadian woman named Kyra.

Set among Toronto's Jamaican Diaspora, the stories focus on Kyra's struggle to navigate her two cultural identities.

"The voice in the book is really great; the dialogue is really great," Toyne said.

"It's a big, big buzz debut and it was getting a lot of industry buzz as well."

(House of Anansi Press)

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

Toyne's top spot this summer goes to You Will Be Safe Here, a novel that blends history and fiction in an examination of the effects of the Boer War on South Africa.

"I've been pressing it into the hand of anyone I have run into who is vaguely interested in reading for the last couple of months," Toyne said. "It is so, so powerful and moving and good."

The first part of the novel takes place during the Second Boer War and is told through the diary entries of a Boer woman and explores the effects of concentration camps — invented by the British Army during this war — on citizens.

Later, the novel fast forwards a century and tells the story of Willem, a young man who's sent to a safari ranger camp. The camps are advertised as places to change effeminate boys to manly men.

"The story really is then about the intergenerational trauma that was begun in the concentration camps and then ends more than 100 years later in a similar kind of camp."

Want to win one of Becky Toyne's summer picks? Send us an email by clicking here with your full mailing address and the answer to this question: Which war forms the backdrop of Damian Barr's You Will Be Safe Here?


To hear more from Becky Toyne, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.

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