Tag Archives: Reading List

Best Bets 2017

Each year we pick our favourite books that we can’t stop recommending to people. Check out our 2017 list below!

You can also download a BCLA Best Bets 2017 (2).

 

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This book will make you uncomfortable. It certainly made me uncomfortable. It will make you question the world and yourself. The strength of it lies in the author’s refusal to force a view or opinion on the reader. Greenwood simply tells the story in beautiful language and brings the characters to life so vividly they live in your memory long after you close the book. It is up to the reader to pass judgement, to feel and react.

– Submitted by Ariana Galeano, Richmond Public Library 

 

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Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

The eclectic “Amazing Telemachus Family” is made up of three generations of psychics, telekinetics, and con artists who find themselves facing all sorts of problems- from navigating their powers, to mob bosses, to 1990s AOL chat. Weaving together many storylines, the novel is a hilarious and heartwarming look at love and family. I’d recommend it to anyone who liked Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest and also appreciates a healthy dose of weirdness in their books.

-Submitted by Lindsay Russell, Port Moody Public Library

 

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Rabbit Cake by Annie Harnett

Reminiscent of Where’d You Go Bernadette, this story is written in the voice of 12 year old Elvis Babbitt as she grieves the loss of her mother.  It is a poignant story that is simultaneously achingly sad and utterly hilarious. Highly recommended.

– Submitted by Pat Cumming, West Vancouver Memorial Library

 

 

 

19161852The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

A fantasy novel leagues ahead of others, The Fifth Season is set on a continent under the constant threat of apocalypse via natural disaster. Some people in this world, including the main character, have the gift or curse—depending on how you look at it—of being able to move and control the forces beneath the earth’s surface; in other words, they can stop or cause natural disasters. The world-building is amazingly inventive and complex, the cast is full of complex, fascinating characters (human and sort-of- human), and the plotting is deftly crafted, with a few brilliant twists.

– Submitted by Casey Stepaniuk, UBC SLAIS Student

 

27245980The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

How much is your happiness worth? In this slim novel, Swedish author Karlsson imagines an initiative that calculates the “Experienced Happiness” (E.H.) of each person in the world. Those who have experienced greater than average happiness must pay into a fund which will be redistributed to those who have experienced less happiness. Our protagonist has been assessed with a massive E.H. bill, which vastly exceeds his earnings as a part-time video store employee. This modern parable is gently satirical and thought-provoking.

– Submitted by Tara Matsuzaki, West Vancouver Memorial Library 

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The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

While these do each stand on their own, the three of them pack a powerful punch.  King puts his hand to hardboiled detective fiction style with some nice twists that look back at his previous work in horror.  Strong, unique characters and chilling climaxes in all three novels make for a ‘don’t put it down’ kind of read.  Great to have a title that has multiple hooks for our varied library users!

 – Submitted by Thomas Quigley, Retired Librarian in Vancouver

 

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The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

Olivia Laing approaches the topic of loneliness in one part memoir and one part art history lesson in these beautifully poignant essays that explore the subject through artists and the city of New York. A thoughtful and relevant work that allows one to examine what it really means to be lonely in an urban landscape and how it’s changed through society and technology in an ever increasing connected world.

-Submitted by Stephanie Hong, Surrey Libraries and Vancouver Public Library

 

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The Heaviness of Things That Float by Jennifer Manuel

Bernadette has spent 40 years as a nurse living on the West Coast of Vancouver Island on the periphery of a remote First Nations reserve. As she faces her retirement and imminent move from the community, she is forced to explore her relationships with the people and place she has grown to deeply love.

 – Submitted by Kristy Hennings, Okanagan Regional Library 

 

25694617His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae by Graeme Macrae Burnet

With an unreliable narrator, an intricate structure, and a remote and bleak Scottish highland setting, it’s not surprising that this book was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker. Set in 1869 this novel tells the story of Roderick Macrae who provides the reader with a memoir written while in jail, and plenty of insight into the brutal living conditions that Scottish crofters faced. Was he guilty or insane?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

 Submitted by Shelley Wilson-Roberts, New Westminster Public Library 

 

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On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor

Moor takes a question with what seems like an obvious answer “Where do trails come from?” in the middle of walking the Appalachian trail and brings the reader along with him for a fascinating exploration of history and humanity. A delightful, immersive reading experience and not to be missed.

 – Submitted by Meghan Whyte, Surrey Libraries and Vancouver Public Library 

 

 

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Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

Politics, feminism, family, and pop culture are examined by Gen X’s columnists Caitlin Moran in Mornanifesto. This book will make you laugh out loud, ponder important issues, and maybe even shock you once or twice. If fiction and non-fiction worlds could merge, Caitlin Moran would be Bridget Jones’ funniest and smartest friend.

-Submitted by Cathy Mount, West Vancouver Memorial Library

 

 

29780253Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Comedian Trevor Noah was born to a black mother and white father in South Africa in 1984, when it was against the law for a mixed-racial couple to have a child together. In his biography, Noah describes growing up in apartheid South Africa, being raised by his strong-willed and resilient mother. His tales are often humorous and the reader gets a glimpse of a child growing up in a very different cultural environment. What is truly unforgettable are the harrowing stories Noah tells about living with the restrictions of apartheid.

– Submitted by Lori Nick, Fraser Valley Regional Library

 

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The Unbroken Machine: Canada`s Democracy in Action by Dale Smith
Dale Smith, a freelance journalist in the the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, has done us all a tremendous favour with this 100-page primer on Canadian parliamentary democracy. His mastery of the material makes the book engagingly limpid, while the punchy argumentative style will help novices immediately appreciate the principles behind the various parts of our political system (even if they ultimately come to view some issues differently than Smith.) To achieve true accountability, democracy–which encompasses much more than elections–requires a broadly distributed command of the basics of civic literacy.  “The Unbroken Machine” brilliantly deploys the book format to support citizens in performing this function.

-Submitted by Joseph Haigh, New Westminster Public Library

 

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Bad Ideas by Michael Smith

Poetry can seem intimidating, especially if you were scarred by it in english class in high school. But Michael V. Smith’s latest collection of poems, “Bad Ideas” (2017) is very accessible and richly rewarding: reading his poems feels like watching a beautiful rainbow, his words wash over you in waves of colourful emotions – joy, sadness, grief, and humour. His poetry is not weighed down by oblique references or excess verbiage: he speaks plainly and from his personal experience dealing with family trauma, lost loved ones and long-distance friends. Bad Ideas is a great introduction to poetry in the 21st century.

-Submitted by Andrea Davidson, Surrey Libraries

 

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Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First NationsMétis, & Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel

 

A clear, precise, and unflinching series of essays on the diversity of indigenous issues in Canada, from blood quantum to two-spirit to the Sixties Scoop. Chelsea Vowel, a blogger, lawyer, and educator, writes with a sharp, informative, and entertaining voice. Challenge yourself to pick up this accessible and absorbing book.

-Submitted by Chloe Riley, Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Public Library

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Book List: Retro Reads

60th-logo-teal_smallBurnaby Public Library celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. We held special events throughout the year, including a Readers Advisory presentation called Retro Reads. Our staff selected books that were either written from the 50s until the 2000s or contemporary titles where the stories took place in that time period.

If you want to join our time travel adventure, here are some of the titles our librarians recommended (descriptions from publishers):

tuesday-nights-80 A debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way in the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s. (2016)

versions-usEva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. (2015)

cover-happyfamilyTrenton, New Jersey, 1962: A pregnant girl staggers into a health clinic, gives birth, and flees. A foster family takes the baby in, and an unlikely couple, their lives unspooling from a recent tragedy, hastily adopts her. (2016)the-prisoner-of-heaven-uk

Carlos Ruiz Zafón creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge, set in a dark, gothic Barcelona, in 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. The third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. (2012)
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In the summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor. (2016)

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Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists. (2016)

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England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands. And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined. (2015)

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In the tradition of A Fine Balance and The Namesake, The Two Krishna is a sensual and searing look at infidelity and the nature of desire and faith. At the center of the novel is Pooja Kapoor, a betrayed wife and mother who is forced to question her faith and marriage when she discovers that her banker husband Rahul has fallen in love with a young Muslim illegal immigrant man who happens to be their son’s age. Faced with the potential of losing faith in Rahul, divine intervention and family, she is forced to confront painful truths about the past and the duality in God and husband. (2010)

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A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. (2016)do-not-say-we-have-nothing

Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. Winner of the 2016 Governor General Literary Award, also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize. (2016)  three-martini-lunch

In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing.  (2016) attachments

Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. (2011)

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An imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and ’70s that suddenly loses its fortune—and its bearings. (2016)

Celebrating Black History Month at the Library: Websites to Inspire

ZoraBlack History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in February in Canada and the US for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

If you are looking for books and/or promotion ideas, check out these links for inspiration:

The CBC’s 10 Books to read for Black History Month.

The Guardian’s Black History Month reading list.

Flavorwire’s 10 recent nonfiction books to read for Black History Month.

NPR’s reading list of black letter collections.

The Village Voice offers 10 Lesser-Known Books About Race.

HuffPo’s 14 Books to Read This Black History Month.

So tell us, how are you celebrating Black History Month at your library?

-Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library.

Image of Author Zora Neale Hurston via.