Staff Picks: Summer Readings

The IFOA staff is recommending a range of titles to quench your literary thirst this summer. Enjoy!

Pastoral by Andre Alexis (Coach House Books)Pastoral by André Alexis (Coach House Books)

Pastoral is the first installment in Andre Alexis’ quincunx (a five book series) which also includes Canada Reads 2017 winner Fifteen Dogs, and his most recent novel, The Hidden Keys.

Pastoral elegantly follows the personal meanderings of a young pastor, Father Christopher Pennant, and a recently engaged woman, Liz Denny, in the small town of Barrow as they struggle with their own doubts and questions about faith and love. Alexis beautifully reinvigorates the pastoral genre through his story about a modern-day Canadian town in the lush countryside, exploring how the land’s beauty and mystery affect the lives of the townsfolk who live there.

As always, Alexis’ unique insight into the human condition is startlingly evident as he takes readers on a gentle but compelling journey through the seemingly simple lives of his richly detailed characters. Pastoral is a perfect read for the summer season!

Brianna


A Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series "Lose" by Michael DeForge. Koyama PressA Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series “Lose” by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

I’m reading A Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series “Lose” by Michael DeForge. Graphic novels straddle both the literary and the visual worlds, and DeForge works beautifully within both mediums. A great book to start with for anyone who is interested in getting a taste of contemporary graphic novels!

Here’s a quote from Koyama Press because I cannot describe it better: “He has crafted a phantasmagoria of stories that feature a spider-infested pet horse head, post-apocalyptic dogs dealing with existential angst, the romantic undertones of a hired hit, and more.”

— Emily


Stopgap by Liam Card. Dundurn Press.Stopgap by Liam Card (Dundurn Press)

Local Toronto author, Liam Card, brings the mystery of the paranormal to Oakville, Ontario with his darkly comedic novel Stopgap. Written from the POV of a ghost, who while enjoying the blissful life of an invisible voyeur finds himself in the middle of an ethical dilemma that would change the world. Full of quippy remarks, thoughtful deliberations and digs about life in the GTA, this novel make for a quick read to lift your spirits this summer.

Madeline

 

 

 


Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway (Anchor Canada)Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway. Anchor Canada.

I recommend Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998) for reading anytime of the year. An accomplished playwright, pianist and novelist (all things I wish I was), Thomson Highway is an author I can never recommend enough.

A bestseller when it came out, his debut novel is a story about sibling love and rivalry, education, and religion as the reader is welcomed into the world of these two Cree brothers trying to navigate two worlds, two languages and two cultures. Especially given the conversations going on at the moment about what this 150th year means for Canada, this book is poignant and pointed wrapped up in beautiful language. Pick it up at your local library or indie bookstore, but be ready for a good cleansing cry.

— Rebecca


SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. Drawn and Quarterly. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

I find that summer is a time for a chuckle-inducing read and Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy definitely does that. The comic as the X-Men meets Harry Potter starring misfit teens and collects the 4 year webcomic with additional strips to create a cohesive storyline.

It’s hilarious and will look good in a selfie with a cold beverage of your choice. Tamaki also co-created This One Summer with her cousin, Mariko Tamaki, which won a Printz Honor, and a Governor General’s Award for Jillian Tamaki.

— Ardo


These are our recommendations. Tell or show us your summer recommendations at either @internationalfestivalofauthors on Instagram, @ifoa on Twitter or International Festival of Authors on Facebook.

Holiday Book Buying Guide

We are always excited to recommend books, especially around the holiday season. A book is the perfect customized gift. There truly is something for everyone. Check out our staff recommendations for the book nerds, literati and hard-to-shop-for loved ones on your list!

All signed Festival titles are currently on sale at the Harbourfront Centre Shop. Hurry in to receive 15%-20% discounts on books!

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For the #CanLit lover you can’t go wrong with an award winner like Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

For the goof in the family or group of friends consider When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.

For young nieces and nephews or young-at-heart list-makers check out The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julia Sarda.

For those who love to get cozy with a cup of tea by the fireside The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a great choice.

For the impossible to shop for preteen girl Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris is perfect.

For your younger brother that’s home for the holidays try City of Thieves by David Benioff.

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For the little ones that love bedtime stories Toronto ABC and Canada ABC by Paul Covello or Fox and Squirrel The Best Christmas Ever by Ruth Ohi

For the proud Torontonians (#ReadtheNorth!) check out a a classic like In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondatjee or Michael Helm’s Cities of Refuge.

For those with a curious mind and an out-of-the-box perception of the world pick up Anosh Irani’s The Parcel.

For the historian in your life definitely buy The Promise of Canada by Charlotte Gray.

For the lover of politics, who may need a break from talking about the US Election, they need Nathan Hill’s The Nix.

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For the children who ran out of fables to read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig written by Eugene Trivizas is your best bet.

For the kid who can’t give up Halloween quite yet try Haunted Canada 6 by John Sutherland.

For your friend with the serious Gilmore Girls obsession turn off the TV and give them Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

For the musician offer up School of Velocity by Eric Beck Rubin.

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For your mother in law who loves Canada Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things is our go-to.

For graphic novel readers experiencing some wanderlust check out Burts Way Home by John Martz.

For the naturopath in your group of friends The Naturalist by Alissa York seems appropriate.

For the family member who appreciates dark comedy Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is sure to be a bestseller.
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For the Shakespeare aficionado, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed because it is based on The Tempest.

For your crime-fiction loving parents Peter Robinson’s When The Music’s Over is a great choice.

For grandma who only reads historical fiction give her Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.

For your technology-obsessed boyfriend The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott is fool-proof.

For sci-fi fans check out Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

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IFOA Staff’s December Reading List

The holidays are characterized by a lot of hustle and bustle–the parties, the shopping, wrapping up the end of the year. There’s also some quiet time–reflection on the year that’s passing, time with family, and planning for the new year.

For these quite moments consider picking up one of the books that our staff is reading this month! (Psst! Festival books are currently 15%-20% off at the Harbourfront Centre Shop!)

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Catherine Coreno just finished Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People and started Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. She also picked up Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey.

Rebecca Hallquist is currently reading A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem and re-reading  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but this time in Swedish!

Dean Keranovic is planning to read Alejandro Jodorowsky’s sci-fi space opera The Metabarons.

Tina Kessler is finishing Kate Taylor’s Serial Monogamy.

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Madeline McCaffrey just finished Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You and is moving on to Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.

Zviko Mhakayakora’s TBR pile consists of Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder, Nathan Hill’s The Nix and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

Eirini Moschaki is reading Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.

Julia Yu is excited to read Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime.

We wish you the glitz and glam of holiday parties, the excitement of gift-giving, fun with family and friends and a lot of extra time to snuggle with a new book!