Guiding lit: eight must-read books of the season

Guiding lit: eight must-read books of the season

We asked three of the city’s booksellers for their top fall reads. Their picks below, plus five more page-turns after the jump.

BEN McNALLY Owner of Ben McNally Books

The Wave, by Susan Casey (Sept. 14) “Casey is a former Torontonian whose last book, The Devil’s Teeth, was about her obsessive tracking of great white sharks near San Francisco. This one looks at the phenomenon of inexplicably giant 100-foot waves, and the people (like surfer Laird Hamilton, and even Casey) who try to ride them without getting killed. It’s so well written you’ll end up reading it out loud to friends.”

CHRIS SZEGO Manager of BakkaPhoenix Books

Killer of Men, by Christian Cameron (Oct. 13) “Like Cameron’s earlier novels, this takes place in ancient Greece. But while those had a whisper of myth that pushed them into the realm of fantasy, Killer of Men is historical fiction. It follows a farm boy as he becomes a slave, then a massively heroic soldier. Cameron is a military history buff, and the research is so expertly done that it seems like a window into what life was like then.”

ALISON FRYER Manager of the Cookbook Store

As Always, Julia: the Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardo (Dec. 1) “This is for the person who loves food but doesn’t need another recipe book. It covers Julia Child’s correspondence with her champion, Avis DeVoto, in the 1950s and into the ’60s; their friendship is set against the political backdrop of McCarthyism. The letters are heartfelt and wonderfully written.”

Five more page-turners

Emma Donoghue Five-year-old Jack lives out his days in the garden shed–dungeon into which he was born to a woman held captive by a reclusive bachelor. He has a name for everything: from Meltedy Spoon, his favourite utensil, to Wardrobe, where he sleeps when Old Nick comes to visit. Donoghue ripped her idea from the headlines, but the London, Ontario, author brings her own light touch to it: the results are as sweet as they are stomach churning. Room may be told through the eyes of Jack, but it’s the story of a mother who, trapped in hell, creates an improbable heaven for her child. Sept. 11.

Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard
Richard B. Wright In Wright’s new novel, Aerlene, an ailing housekeeper and illegitimate daughter of Shakespeare, reflects on the unlikely trajectory of her life. Wright’s elegant prose and exhaustive research create an Elizabethan England filled with familiar people and places, depicted in ways that make it seem as if he’d invented them. Aerlene’s story is the St. Catharines writer at his best. Unlike the stilted characters that often populate historical novels, she feels believable, as relatable as she might in a modern setting. Sept. 14.

How Should a Person Be?
Sheila Heti The Ticknor writer enters into the novel-is-dead debate, forgoing straight fiction for loose accounts of conversations with a who’s who of Toronto’s indie arts scene. Heti observes her surroundings with an eye that is loving yet jaundiced—she’s tiring of the demimonde she helped create. The details of her existential crisis—she wants to be famous and authentic—are hammered out through her friendship with painter Margaux Williamson. In the end, it’s kind of like reading reality TV, if Snooki were a gallery-hopping, deadline-fearing literary pixie. Sept. 25.

The Jew Is Not My Enemy
Tarek Fatah As the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Fatah is no stranger to extremism—he left the liberal organization out of concern for his family’s safety. Here, he enumerates the root causes of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, from isolated incidents in early Islamic history to oft-misrepresented passages in the Koran. He also illustrates the poisonous calumny that rages through contemporary Muslim societies. Key to the book’s success is Fatah’s fearless approach, and the wisdom in his insistence that Jew hatred is anathema to a sound interpretation of Islam. Oct. 19.

How to Be a Bush Pilot
Claudia Dey Playwright, novelist and one-time relationship columnist Claudia Dey assumes the role of naughty drill sergeant, grabbing eager pupils by the you-know-whats and leading them through an exhaustive course in sexual prowess for the modern man. Armed with an arsenal of puns and penis euphemisms, Dey provides cheeky diagrams, romantic mix tape suggestions and X-rated anecdotes. Follow­ing a multiple choice exam at the end, all that’s left to do is prepare for, ahem, blast off. Oct. 30.

(Photographs: The Wave courtesy of Random House; Killer of Men courtesy of Orion Books; As Always, Julia courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Room, Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard and How to Be a Bush Pilot courtesy of Harper Collins; How Should a Person Be? courtesy of House of Anansi Press; The Jew Is Not My Enemy courtesy of McClelland and Stewart. Illustrations by Andy Friedman)

Best of Fall 2010 articles:


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