My summer has been spent doing not much of anything. Most of my time is spent puttering around the bookstores, mastering (or attempting to) Montreal’s hills on my Bixi, and reading. Reading on couches, balconies, in parks and waiting rooms, but most of all, on the floor, directly in front of my fan.
This One Summer - Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
I finally got around to reading this classic graphic novel from writer Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Jillian Tamaki and I wish I had picked it up sooner! The story of summer friends Rose and Windy at their cottage in the fictional Awago Beach reminded me so much of my own summers cottaging around Ontario. The story is such a tender and smart coming-of-age tale that I fell in love with immediately.
Be Prepared - Vera Brosgol
To kick off our first summer at La Petite Librairie, we curated a list of summer reads to keep our book clubbers entertained throughout their free months. I picked up Vera Brosgol's second graphic novel, Be Prepared. It is the hilarious story of nine year-old Vera and her grueling few weeks at a Russian summer camp. Working at the kids store has me reading a lot of younger graphic novels, and this is top of my list!
The Marrow Thieves - Cherie Dimaline
In a dystopian but not so distant future, indigenous peoples are on the run from those who hunt them for their bone marrow - the only substance that can give people the ability to dream. The Marrow Thieves is thrilling and intimate and an essential read.
Thirteen - Remy Charlip & Jerry Joyner
This book is hard to describe, but basically there are 13 images/stories that change with each passing page. It is weird with beautiful illustrations, so naturally I love it.
Julián is a Mermaid - Jessica Love
Farwest - Kitty Crowther
My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh
When I am feeling hopeless, sleeping for an year often seems like the only reasonable, if impossible, respite. The protagonist in the incomparable Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel makes it possible. By scamming her therapist and mixing the perfect prescription drug cocktails, she attempts to do exactly what the title suggests - sleep as much as possible for an entire year. I love Moshfegh and her new title certainly did not disappoint.
Tin Man - Sarah Winman
If you're looking for something that is quite the opposite of my previous pick, try Sarah Winman's Tin Man. This is a quiet story of love - romantic and platonic, between three friends, and how those kinds can both be complicated, powerful, and debilitating.
The Vegetarian - Han Kang
A woman puzzles her husband and family with her sudden refusal to eat meat. The story twists and turns and ends up in some unexpected places. Reading this novel gave me continuous surges of energy. Excellent.
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
A sprawling story of survival and a relentless history of American slavery, The Underground Railroad is painful and exhilarating.
Giovanni’s Room - James Baldwin
I have had this on my shelf for a long time and finally picked it up and it immediately surpassed my high expectations. Baldwin’s prose is so delicate and holds so much truth. I had to stop myself from finishing it too fast.
I’ve been rereading some of my favourite Munro stories as palette cleansers between books and each time I find something new in the stories that I already know and love. She is a master and leaves me in awe with every read. I always miss home, “Alice Munro country”, when I read her stories.
Shit is Real - Aisha Franz
I tore threw Aisha Franz's newest graphic novel in a couple of hours, my eyes glued to the pages. Shit is Real is funny and absurd and perfect for anyone else feeling a little bit unhinged in 2018.
La Vol Nocturne - Delphine Panique
A witch named Rogée negotiates with trees, fights with a gnome, and searches for her witch friend Martine, who just can't seem to stop dying. It's hard to say exactly what happens in this story, but what matters is that I loved it.
Priestdaddy - Patricia Lockwood
This is Patricia Lockwood's memoir of briefly moving back in with her parents as a married adult, oh, and her father is a married Catholic priest. This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time and Lockwood writes so eloquently about finding her place in her parents' home and religion.
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel - Alexander Chee
I've had great luck with non-fiction lately. These two books might be the most loved on this list. In this collection of essays, Alexander Chee writes beautifully on identity, activism, and writing amongst other things. Hearing him read and speak at DQ a few months ago was such a treat. This is a must-read.
To Be Read
There are so, so many, of course, but here are just a few for the near future.
Pachinko - Min Jin Lee
I am always craving a good family saga and I just downloaded the Pachinko audiobook to keep me going. It is the story of a young Korean woman who’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to build a new life in Japan and I can’t wait to get into it!
The Pisces - Melissa Broder
After watching The Shape of Water and reading Rachel Ingall's Mrs. Caliban, I have decided to keep the ball rolling and dive into another human/fish love story with Melissa Broder's The Pisces. This is a genre I surely did not expect to become versed in, but here we are.
Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata
A short novel about a woman who finds her place working in a convenience store and to the bewilderment of those around her, she is perfectly content. I think I will relate as a fellow retail worker who is perfectly content where she is.
I am about to start reading the fourth and final book of the Neapolitan Novels. I have read the first chapter three times already, but have not been able to read further. I don’t want this story to end! Please send good thoughts my way for the inevitable tears and a hole left in me that will surely follow the finale of this saga.