Summer reads: 35 books you won't want to miss
Bookmark and Share
Jun 27, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Summer reads: 35 books you won't want to miss

From comedy to thrillers to romances to non-fiction to stuff for kids, books to dive into on the beach or wherever else you go this summer


Take it to the beach

• Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (Bond Street Books)

A luscious, jazz-era read about the real-life, art-commune couple who were the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic Tender Is the Night.

• China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (Doubleday)

The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians follows the same wealthy, young social climbers and pokes fun at their flashy cars and lavish lifestyle. It’s the second of a planned trilogy focusing on the world through protagonist Rachel’s eyes.

• Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Penguin)

A debut, this novel is about a food-loving single dad raising a daughter. She becomes one of the most celebrated chefs in the country. There’s lots to satisfy foodies: each chapter tells the story of a single dish and character.

• The Rocks by Peter Nichols (Riverhead)

Set in a Mallorca seaside resort, this combines mystery and romance as two honeymooners experience an event so catastrophic they don’t speak to one another for 60 years.

• The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hémon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Zombies are a thing right now and Hémon taps into the zeitgeist with this story of an aspiring screenwriter who has lots of ideas (for example, Love Trek: aliens undercover as cabbies abduct the main character’s fiancée). This hilarious, dark book has sex, violence and a conspiracy theory that the government wants to turn immigrants into zombies.

Books to sink into on rainy days

• Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

This debut Canadian novel is a powerful coming of age story that incorporates elements of Cree folklore and oral tradition. Follow protagonist Bernice as she recovers from sexual abuse by an uncle.

• The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark (Knopf)

The latest from the popular and award-winning Canadian author of Latitudes of Melt, this is the story of a week in the life of one family who is set to celebrate Lily’s birthday but has to come to terms with her shocking death instead. Set in New Brunswick.

• A History of Forgetting by Caroline Adderson (Biblioasis)

This book didn’t make a huge splash when it was first published in 1999. Now the author’s revised it, for those CanLit fans who want to compare and contrast. It’s part of the ReSet series by Biblioasis, which is also reprinting John Metcalf and Clark Blaise.

• When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi (Wm. Morrow, late June)

Hashimi has created a remarkable portrait of familial love between a mother and teenage son, Afghan asylum seekers who are separated on their journey from Kabul to London. It’s a heartfelt story of hope amidst the despair of a world short on compassion.

• The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernières (Knopf Canada, August)

From the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin comes a novel about a family shaped by the horrors of the First World War. Evocative period detail.

Thrills and chills

• The Intruder by Hakan Ostlundh (Minotaur, Aug. 18)

Nordic crime fiction is intensely popular and this is yet another great Swedish writer. Ostlundh, once as a journalist for Sweden’s bestselling morning newspaper, crafts a tale about the Andersson family, which is being sent threatening letters. High-quality suspense.

• Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (Harper Collins, July)

Journalist David Harwood takes his son to his own hometown after his wife dies and the newspaper he works for collapses. Our regular Whodunit reviewer Jack Batten says this is Canadian writer Barclay’s best book yet.

• The Hesitation Cut by Giles Blunt (Random House, August)

From the Canadian author of the John Cardinal series, a small twist: a suspense novel starring a young Benedictine monk and troubled poet.

• Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill (Thomas Nelson, July)

This ex-news anchor has a two-book deal. This thriller features Ava Carson, a woman whose picture-perfect marriage is unravelling. She starts digging into the past for the truth . . . which isn’t, of course, what it seems.

• Angel of Eden by D.J. McIntosh (Penguin)

This new release is the third in the megaselling Mesopotamian series. If you like fantasy thrillers, this is a good excuse to read the first two (The Witch of Babylon and The Book of Stolen Tales).

Life writing

• this is happy by Camilla Gibb (Doubleday, August)

Described as “honest, tender, brutal and kind,” this highly anticipated memoir from the Canadian writer chronicles the grief she felt when, at eight weeks pregnant, her partner ended their relationship, shattering the much longed-for family. A very poignant and personal story.

• So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne (Da Capo)

This year is the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary, an occasion marked with this book, which digs into the back story of pivotal days in the band’s career. (Deadheads can also check out a book of interviews with the late Jerry Garcia edited by biographer Dennis McNally and, of course, the band’s concert tour.)

• Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola (Grand Central Publishing)

From the personal essays editor at comes a memoir of her alcoholism by a woman who drank to the point of oblivion. It’s a powerful, funny and poignant book about the battle to get sobre.

• Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff (HarperCollins)

This is “one helluva story,” according to our reviewer, about the rise and fall of BlackBerry (the Canadian company formerly known as Research in Motion). These Canadian writers bring to life the personalities involved and the technology sector in a thoroughly researched and authoritatively written story.

• Empire of Deception by Dean Jobb (Harper Avenue)

A true-crime story anchored in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties, this is the story of Leo Koretz, the lawyer who scammed investors out of $30 million in timberland and non-existent oil wells. Koretz disappeared when his scheme collapsed but was apprehended in 1924 in Nova Scotia, where he was living as a book dealer and literary critic.

Your next book club pick

• Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (Harper Collins, July)

The sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird may be controversial — the manuscript had been set aside when it was written in the 1950s — but there will certainly be lineups when it’s released on July 14.

• Black Feathers by Robert J. Wiersema (Harper Collins, August)

Cassie Weathers, 16, is a runaway on the streets of Vancouver, where there’s a serial killer on the loose. In this latest from Canadian Wiersema (a reviewer for this paper), we have to figure out what is real and what exists only in her night terrors.

• His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay (McClelland & Stewart, August)

A story about a boy who wants a dog, set during the dying days of August on a lake in Eastern Ontario, with deftly drawn characters (as you’d expect from Giller-winning Canadian writer Hay) and an exploration of family, love and forgiveness.

• Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters (Putnam, August)

This debut novel is about a lonely librarian who finds a letter in her grandmother’s suitcase. We get the narrative of the two women: one set in the current day, one in the early years of the Second World War.

• In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (Doubleday)

She’s led us through our awkward middle-school issues and now, in her latest book for adults, Blume takes us on a powerful journey through the grieving process. The background is, incredibly, three plane crashes within two months in her hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. A riveting, heartfelt read.

Romance! Comedy! Hillary Clinton!

• Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow (Random House)

Why does Jon Stewart do what he does? What makes a good joke to Lena Dunham? Apatow, the filmmaker behind Knocked Up, has compiled his conversations with the biggest names in comedy: a list that includes Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne Barr. Lots of inside stories.

• Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Penguin Press)

Ansari is used to getting laughs for his standup routine on online dating; here, he takes a more clinical (but still funny) look at the phenomenon using charts, stats (with the help of an NYU sociologist) and personal anecdotes. His advice to men includes such gems as “Don’t be a ‘bozo.’”

• The Hillary Doctrine by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

It’s never too soon to start your American election reading (the vote is Nov 8, 2016 and Hillary Clinton might well be the Democrat contender). The Vancouver-based Leidl and her co-author look at the doctrine (that the subjugation of women around the world is a threat to U.S. security) in depth.

• Me Artsy, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor (Douglas & McIntyre)

An exploration of what inspires the artistic spirit, with 14 First Nations writers, artists, musicians, designers telling how their culture has influenced their art.

Keep the kids happy (and far from any screen)!

• All Year Round by Emilie Leduc, translated by Shelley Tanaka (Groundwood Books/Anansi, July, ages 2 to 5)

This delightfully illustrated book takes younger readers through the months of the year by season. It’s a great pick for older siblings who can read to younger ones. If your young one is studying French, pick up the original La ronde des mois, too.

• More Boredom Busters by Caroline Fernandez (Cico Kidz)

• The Mosquito Brothers by Griffin Ondaatje, illustrated by Erica Salcedo (ages 6 to 9)

Dinnn Needles (say his first name out loud, sounds like a mosquito) is the main character who learns that The Wild, i.e. the big world, outside, isn’t as scary as he thinks. This read is really about family and how to be cool, big questions for developing minds.

• The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner (Algonquin Young Readers, teen)

This novel tells the story of Francesca Schnell, whose little brother drowned four years ago when she should have been watching him. It’s emotional and it’s told in a lovely, gentle manner.

• Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, all ages)

A picture book with all you need to know about how animals lay eggs. Great for the cottage or the beach in equal measure.

Toronto Star

Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

In Your Neighbourhood Today