Summertime and the reading is plentiful — as is, hopefully, the time you have to put your feet up and relax into a good book.
From beach reads to biographies, memoirs to short stories, we’ve chosen a stack of new and upcoming releases to get you through the summer. We get you started with ones that came out this month and keep rolling with new releases through July and August. Happy reading.
Every Summer After, Carley Fortune (McClelland & Stewart)
If ever there was an idyllic and iconic summer image, it’s the one gracing the cover of Toronto writer Fortune’s debut novel: two people doing a running jump off a dock into the lake by the cabin, cottage, resort. The novel is set in a small cottage town (really Barry’s Bay, Ont.) and traces the relationship of Percy and Sam, who spent six summers together when they were young and are now faced with a weekend where a future might be in the cards.
At Last Count, Claire Ross Dunn (Invisible Publishing)
Discovering new voices is always fun. Toronto-based Dunn turns her screenwriting chops — she has written for “Degrassi” and “Little Mosque on the Prairie” — to writing a novel. Paisley Ratchford, whose OCD means she has to count things in groups of eight, is about to be renovicted and returns to Amherst Island in the hopes of reclaiming her childhood home.
A Trail of Crab Tracks, Patrice Nganang (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Read this as a stand-alone or as the spark for a summer of reading — this is the final book in Nganang’s historical fiction trilogy about his native Cameroon (the first two were “Mount Pleasant” and “When the Plums Are Ripe”). Focusing on a father’s and son’s relationship, as the father reveals details of his life throughout French colonial rule and the civil war in the 1960s, it is deeply researched with a wealth of detail and historical context.
Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath, Bill Browder (Simon & Schuster)
American banker and businessman Browder brings yet more insight into the world of wealth and politics in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This book follows “Red Notice,” in which Browder chronicles his search for justice after his Russian lawyer was tortured to death. In this book, Browder chronicles how he became Putin’s number one enemy by exposing his campaign to steal and launder hundreds of billions of dollars and kill anyone who stood in his way.
Ghost Lover, Lisa Taddeo (Simon & Schuster)
Taddeo has explored women’s sexuality in non-fiction with her award-winning “Three Women,” an in-depth, intimate look at the romantic and sexual lives of three very different women; in novel form, with her 2021 book “Animal,” and now she’s mastering the short story is this new volume. It features stories that are ragingly funny with pointed descriptions and keen, sometimes devastating, observations about women and love and sex.
July 12: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, Sophie Irwin (Pamela Dorman Books)
The debut novel from British author Irwin. Riffing off familiar plot lines — “an unconventional heroine throws herself into the London Season to find a wealthy husband” could be right out of an Austen novel — this romantic comedy offers some smart fun for a summer’s read.
July 12: Groupies, Sarah Priscus (William Morrow)
Canadian author Priscus channels a rock ’n’ roll vibe in the vein of the wildly popular “Daisy Jones & The Six.” Clearly, the 1970s are very of the moment. The story runs like this, according to the publisher: It’s 1977 and Faun Novak is in love with rock ’n’ roll. After her mother’s death, she hops a Greyhound to Los Angeles and connects with her childhood friend Josie, who’s dating the frontman of a superstar rock band. A coming-of-age story with social commentary on fame, the media and the industries around them.
July 12: Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop, Bob Stanley (Faber & Faber)
Toronto author Stanley takes us back to the origins of pop music, which began, really, with the production of the 78 rpm record at the end of the 1900s, according to this comprehensive history. A prequel to Stanley’s “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” this goes back to the first recorded music and a look at the rise of “pop stars.”
July 22: Life Ceremony Stories, Sayaka Murata (Grove Atlantic)
This is the long-awaited first short-story collection to be translated into English by Murata, the Japanese author of the cult sensation “Convenience Store Woman.” She is beloved in Japan for her unique voice and observations, particularly in her short stories. In this collection, for example, one story is told from the point of view of a bedroom curtain that tries to stop a young girl from having her first kiss.
July 26: Where You End and I Begin, Leah McLaren (Random House Canada)
Canadian writer McLaren, who now lives in England, writes about her relationship with her mother, well-known journalist Cecily Ross. Described as a daughter’s unflinching exploration of the intimate and unconventional relationship she shared with her mother, it’s also an exploration of how sexual abuse and the details of a mother’s past inform the complicated relationship between mother and daughter.
Aug. 2: Escape From Manus Prison, Jaivet Ealom (Penguin Canada)
It took Ealom six months to make it to Canada after he escaped from Australia’s notorious offshore detention centre. He was seeking refuge in the country from Myanmar, where Rohingya people were being persecuted. He boarded a boat to Australia and was taken to its Manus processing centre. This is the story of how he finally reached Canada, where he now lives in Toronto and has become a prominent spokesperson for the Rohingya community.
Aug. 2: Passengers, Michael Crummey (House of Anansi)
A travelogue that maps out the history of Newfoundland in some ways, this is armchair travelling in poetic form if you can’t get away for vacation. Crummey channels the rhythms of Scandinavian poet Tomas Tranströmer on an imagined circumnavigation of the province, from Signal Hill, where “no tourist escapes cliché,” to Fogo Island, which is “nursing an unspeakable hangover.”
Aug. 9: The Family Remains, Lisa Jewell (Atria)
No summer reading list is complete without a couple of thrillers to look forward to. Jewell’s latest is an intricately woven mystery, a “stand-alone” sequel to “The Family Upstairs” (which gives you another read if you want to head to that one first). A week later, Canadian writer Joy Fielding is out with “The Housekeeper” (Doubleday Canada, Aug. 16). Fielding writes domestic thrillers that get into your bones — in this one, a woman, Jodi Bishop, hires a housekeeper to help care for her aging parents. Let the suspense begin.
Aug. 9: We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky, Emma Hooper (Penguin Canada)
Hooper’s quirky voice and stories have garnered many fans for her previous books “Etta and Otto and Russell and James” and the Giller-longlisted “Our Homesick Songs.” This new tale also pushes boundaries; this story is set in Roman times and is about five young women who, despite being raised by separate families, know they are sisters, and their rebellion in “an era that relies on their submission.”
Aug. 19: Cat Brushing, Jane Campbell (Grove Atlantic)
Put this one on the inspiration list. Women of a certain age, and younger women who know they will one day be of a certain age, make jokes about being a “cat lady.” It’s the kind of stereotype debut author Campbell — debuting at age 80 is a feat! — fights against. In this short-story collection she probes the erotic, emotional and intellectual lives of 13 older women. Expect an exploration of libido, passions, and how older women maintain their sense of self as they fight against stereotypes of what it means to be an older woman.
Aug. 23: Haven, Emma Donoghue (Harper Avenue)
The Skellig Islands, which you might recognize as the place Luke Skywalker has been hanging out in the latest “Star Wars” movies, lie off the coast of Ireland’s southwest Dingle Peninsula. They are a place of stark beauty and mystery — and if you’ve ever seen them, you’ll have marvelled and wondered how long ago monks managed to carve a life out of them. Irish-Canadian writer Donoghue interrogates the question in fiction: in seventh-century Ireland, a scholar priest named Artt has a dream in which God tells him to leave the sinful world behind. With two monks — young Trian and old Cormac — he rows down the River Shannon in search of an isolated spot in which to found a monastery.
Aug. 23: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, Bianca Marais (HarperCollins)
Ah, the things that happen when a coven of 80-year-old witches get together. The five witches are faced with the prospect of losing their Moonshyne Manor (they’ve fallen behind on the mortgage payments), which a group of angry men wish to turn into a rec centre called “Men’s World.” A long-ago magical heist, the return of a long-gone member of the sisterhood and a feisty young TikToker named Persephone all add to the fun.
Aug. 23: Jones, Neil Smith (Random House Canada)
From the award-winning Canadian author of the 2007 short-story collection “Bang Crunch,” which was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was followed by his 2015 debut novel “Boo,” which our reviewer described as moving “between whimsy and darkness.” “Jones” is the story of a pair of young siblings “attempting to survive the horror show of their family.”
Aug. 26: We Are Still Here: Afghan Women on Courage, Freedom, and the Fight to Be Heard, Nahid Shahalimi, editor (Penguin Canada)
With a foreword by Margaret Atwood, this collection of first-hand accounts by Afghan women comes on the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
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