Staff Picks 2018 - Rachel W

December 27, 2018

Staff Picks 2018 - Rachel W

Each season of this year brought more books to read and new reasons to enjoy them. Moving into a new apartment with other book lovers and starting out at D+Q kept me surrounded with seemingly endless - and enticing - reading material. My favourite books stood out despite this abundance. 

Thumb 1543967503 images

The Blue Clerk

Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand, author of the Griffin Poetry Prize-winning collection Ossuaries, returns with a startlingly original work about the act of writing itself.On a lonely...

More Info

I could read any page of this book all day and be completely satisfied, and I could re-read it endlessly and still want to read it more. The book is drenched in objects, then in adjectives, and then, more lightly, in verbs. It creates a relentless space; I want to dance in it.

Thumb 1544309154 images

The Emissary

Yoko Tawada

Japan, after suffering from a massive irreparable disaster, cuts itself off from the world. Children are so weak they can barely stand or walk:...

More Info

There were so many books written about the future and its possibilities in the past year; this was my favourite. It is horrifying, but delicate. It devastated me so gently I nearly didn't realize that it had.

Thumb 1544029141 images


Akwaeke Emezi

A National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” HonoreeShortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Ada has always been unusual. As an infant...

More Info

This book is absolutely stunning. In some ways this is a typical college story, but by grounding the book in Igbo ontology, Emezi fills the work with new-to-me iterations of power and change.

Full width 1545935147 rachel2018 4

I have a soft spot for colourful comics. Fluorescent Mud, The Lie and How We Told It, A Western World, and Coyote Doggirl all seduced me with their use of colour. After following and laughing along with Woman World on Instagram, I was delighted by the print edition. Passing for Human surprised me with its thoughtful approach to the way family, creativity, and thoughts that gnaw at you like rats can intertwine.

Join me to discuss The Lie and How We Told It in February's Graphic Novel Book Club!

Thumb 1544031120 images

Fluorescent Mud

Eli Howey

Fluorescent Mud is an art comic that is entirely hand painted in watercolour and gouache. Using a strong visual language of symbols and codes,...

More Info
Thumb 1543771649 images

The Lie And How We Told It

Tommi Parrish

Parrish’s emotionally loaded, painted graphic novel is is a visual tour de force, always in the service of the author’s themes: navigating queer desire,...

More Info
Thumb 1543772068 images

A Western World

Michael DeForge

Short, succinct and, more often than not, strange stories have always been a central part of Michael DeForge's oeuvre. In a career that's volume...

More Info
Thumb 1527143549 images

Coyote Doggirl

Lisa Hanawalt

A raucous and fierce Western by the BoJack Horseman producer/production designer and award-winning cartoonist Coyote is a dreamer and a drama queen, brazen and...

More Info
Thumb 1536331409 images

Woman World

Aminder Dhaliwal

The hilarious and wildly popular instagram comic about a world with no men With her startling humor, it's no surprise that Aminder Dhaliwal's web...

More Info
Thumb 1545510232 images

Passing for Human

Liana Finck

A visually arresting graphic memoir about a young artist struggling against what’s expected of her as a woman, and learning to accept her true...

More Info
Full width 1545935147 rachel2018 2

In non-fiction, I explored the ends of my anxiety. Two fun reads about the past and future internet were Life in Code and Broad Band. The former, by Ellen Ullman, is a collection of essays written over the past twenty years. Rather than seeming outdated, the older pieces in the book lend perspective to how concerns and attitudes towards digital technology technologies have evolved alongside them. The latter, by Claire L. Evans, finds that by tracing technological history through software rather than hardware, the essential role that women have played in developments come to the fore. Evans doesn't shy away from acknowledging the ways that privilege and good timing, as well as skill, were integral in many of these women's involvement in their jobs and products. Even though this book focuses on history, it is written with a mind towards current technological trends, and left me with a new understanding of my daily clicks and beeps.

Unthinking Mastery investigates how dehumanizing and decolonizing thought may be necessary companions, and offers a sharp re-reading exposing ways that colonial logic may be latent and lingering even in efforts to overcome it. Singh considers both theory and literature in her investigations, all the while maintaining a balance between appreciation and incisiveness. 

Down Girl snuck out right at the end of last year, and Manne's analysis of misogyny has been making a splash ever since. You may have seen the word "himpathy," a term Manne coins in the book to describe  "the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of...misogynistic behavior," as it popped up in several news articles this past year. By providing the constraint of definition, Manne offers empowering clarity throughout this book.

The following books can all be described as "smart, fun, and captivating escapist mysteries to curl up and disappear with" (a genre I didn't know I needed). I read each of these in a single (indulgent) sitting. 

Thumb 1545939762 images

Who Is Vera Kelly?

Rosalie Knecht

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She's working night shifts at...

More Info
Thumb 1544310325 images

My Sister, the Serial Killer

Oyinkan Braithwaite

"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."--NEW YORK TIMES"The...

More Info
Thumb 1545940007 couv ananas

Les Ananas de la Colère


Lorsque Bonnie Lavallée est trouvée morte dans son appartement, la police de Trois-Rivières croit avoir affaire à une banale intoxication au piña colada. Mais...

More Info
Thumb 1545866759 city of the future cover

City of the Future

Sesshu Foster

Twenty-one years after Kaya Press first published Sesshu Foster’s City Terrace Field Manual, a powerful collection of prose poems that map the East Los Angeles...

More Info
Thumb 1545867224 images


Amy Fusselman

Leaping from ballet to quiltmaking, from the The Nutcracker to an Annie-B Parson interview,Idiophone is a strikingly original meditation on risk-taking and provocation in...

More Info
Thumb 1545866951 images

Call Me Zebra

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

"Splendidly eccentric...Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you.”—Wall Street Journal "Ferociously intelligent...A tragicomic...

More Info
Thumb 1545939483 extra hidden hillman

Extra Hidden Life, among the Days

Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. By turns plain and transcendent, these poems...

More Info
Thumb 1539814738 images

Split Tooth

Tanya Tagaq

Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller PrizeFrom the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never...

More Info

Posted by

Rachel Wallace