Portraits, ecology, reluctant dinner guests, Game of Thrones, 1927, CanLit, special pets and stickers

New Books - Sept 19

Happy Friday! Here are some new books to kick off your weekend reading:

– “The Girl You Left Behind” by Jojo Moyes
In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.

– “Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life” by George Monbiot
This book explodes with wonder and delight. Making use of remarkable scientific discoveries that transform our understanding of how natural systems work, George Monbiot explores a new, positive environmentalism that shows how damaged ecosystems on land and at sea can be restored, and how this restoration can revitalize and enrich our lives.

Challenging what he calls his “ecological boredom,” Monbiot weaves together a beautiful and riveting tale of wild places, wildlife, and wild people. Roaming the hills of Britain and the forests of Europe, kayaking off the coast of Wales with dolphins and seabirds, he seeks out the places that still possess something of the untamed spirit he would like to resurrect. He meets people trying to restore lost forests and bring back missing species—such as wolves, lynx, wolverines, wild boar, and gray whales—and explores astonishing evidence that certain species, not just humans, have the power to shape the physical landscape. This process of rewilding, Monbiot argues, offers an alternative to a silent spring: the chance of a raucous summer in which ecological processes resume and humans draw closer to the natural world.

– “Ticknor” by Sheila Heti
On a cold, rainy night, an aging bachelor named George Ticknor prepares to visit his childhood friend Prescott, a successful man who is now one of the leading intellectual lights of their generation. With a hastily baked pie in his hands, and a lifetime of guilt and insecurity weighing upon his soul, he sets out for the Prescotts’ dinner party–a party at which he’d just as soon never arrive. Distantly inspired by the real-life friendship between the great historian William Hickling Prescott and his biographer, Ticknor is a witty, fantastical study of resentment; and a biting history of a one-sided friendship.

– “Snow Hunters” by Paul Yoon
In this elegant, haunting, and highly anticipated debut novel from 5 Under 35 National Book Foundation honoree Paul Yoon, a North Korean war refugee confronts the wreckage of his past. With spare, evocative prose, Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, who defects from his country at the end of the war, leaving his friends and family behind to seek a new life in a port town on the coast of Brazil.

Though he is a stranger in a strange land, throughout the years in this town, four people slip in and out of Yohan’s life: Kiyoshi, the Japanese tailor for whom he works, and who has his own secrets and a past he does not speak of; Peixe, the groundskeeper at the town church; and two vagrant children named Santi and Bia, a boy and a girl, who spend their days in the alleyways and the streets of the town. Yohan longs to connect with these people, but to do so he must sift through his traumatic past so he might let go and move on.

In Snow Hunters, Yoon proves that love can dissolve loneliness; that hope can wipe away despair; and that a man who has lost a country can find a new home. This is a heartrending story of second chances, told with unerring elegance and absolute tenderness.

– “Game of Thrones: House Stark” Journal
Noble, stoic, and resilient, House Stark has endured some of the darkest periods in the history of Westeros. Known for their motto “Winter Is Coming,” the Starks’ notably grim outlook on life acts as a necessary shield against the brutalities of the Seven Kingdoms. Displaying the direwolf on their sigil, the Starks are just as loyal and fierce as the creature itself, making them perhaps the most honorable family in the land, and as a result, often the most maligned.

– “Don’t” by Litsa Trochatos
This cleverly conceived board book appeals to a young child’s sense of fun while providing facts about different animals. A series of impossible but delightful-to-imagine cautionary statements are followed by informative explanations: Don’t take a bath with a pig. It loves wallowing in the mud. Don’t start a food fight with an octopus. It has six more arms than you do. The simplicity and humor in the text and watercolor illustrations make this book a story-time favorite.

– “One Summer: America 1927” by Bill Bryson
The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history.

In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.

All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

– “Eleven Canadian Novelist Interviewed by Graeme Gibson” by Graeme Gibson
Originally published in 1970, Eleven Canadian Novelists Interviewed by Graeme Gibson is a collection of candid and wide-ranging interviews with Canadian writers, including Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, and more. With the intuition of an insider, Gibson asks the important questions: In what way is writing important to you? Do writers know something special? Does he or she have any responsibility to society? The result is a fascinating and immensely readable series of conversations with famed writers at the beginning of their careers. The A List edition features an introduction by a notable Canadian writer and interviews with the following authors: Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Matt Cohen, Marian Engel, Timothy Findley, Dave Godfrey, Margaret Laurence, Jack Ludwig, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, and Scott Symons.

– “The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Changed My Life” by Andy Miller
An editor and writer’s vivaciously entertaining, and often moving, chronicle of his year-long adventure with fifty great books (and two not-so-great ones)–a true story about reading that reminds us why we should all make time in our lives for books.

Nearing his fortieth birthday, author and critic Andy Miller realized he’s not nearly as well read as he’d like to be. A devout book lover who somehow fell out of the habit of reading, he began to ponder the power of books to change an individual life–including his own–and to the define the sort of person he would like to be. Beginning with a copy of Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita that he happens to find one day in a bookstore, he embarks on a literary odyssey of mindful reading and wry introspection. From Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to A Confederacy of Dunces, these are books Miller felt he should read; books he’d always wanted to read; books he’d previously started but hadn’t finished; and books he’d lied about having read to impress people.

Combining memoir and literary criticism, The Year of Reading Dangerously is Miller’s heartfelt, humorous, and honest examination of what it means to be a reader. Passionately believing that books deserve to be read, enjoyed, and debated in the real world, Miller documents his reading experiences and how they resonated in his daily life and ultimately his very sense of self. The result is a witty and insightful journey of discovery and soul-searching that celebrates the abiding miracle of the book and the power of reading.

– “The Cat at the Wall” by Deborah Ellis
A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she’s just a cat. Or is she? She was once a regular North American girl, but that was before she died and came back to life as a cat. When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don’t know what to do with him. It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching. As the soldiers begin to panic and disaster seems certain, the cat knows that it is up to her to diffuse the situation. But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?

– “A Simple Case of Angels” by Caroline Adderson
Nicola’s adorable little dog June Bug keeps getting into trouble. She steals the neighbor’s turkey, yanks down the Christmas tree, and destroys Mom’s almost-finished giant crossword. Everyone is mad, and it looks as though June Bug’s days are numbered. Will doing a good deed make up for June Bug’s bad behavior? Nicola certainly hopes so. And when she and June Bug come across a new nursing home in the neighborhood, it feels like a sign. They volunteer to become regular visitors at Shady Oaks, certain that June Bug’s cute tricks will cheer up the elderly residents. But something unusual is going on at the home, where it seems that a few of the more remarkable patients are being kept against their will. Freeing them will bring out the very best in Nicola, and especially in June Bug.

– “Canada Doodles” by Megan Radford
Explore the rugged beauty of Canada’s varied landscape as you travel on highways, in trains and planes, and even floating in bathtubs. Enjoy a plate of poutine and other tasty treats, admire the world’s biggest tomahawk, and take in a hockey game.

– “Holiday Activity Pack”
A handy carry case with 4 fun-filled books and over 200 stickers to keep children occupied during the holidays, including Holiday Doodling and Colouring, Holiday Puzzles, Travel Doodling and Colouring, and Summer Stickers. The perfect companion for any long journey!

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