Reading through a year’s worth of Shelf Talkers columns, I am struck by a couple of details that likely have not slipped your attention: the quality of the books chosen by our panelists, and the eclectic nature of those choices.
Every month, our esteemed independent booksellers share their picks for not just the best books they have been reading, but those books which they feel merit special attention. Books that aren’t just good, but are distinct in some way, powerful enough to merit an enthusiastic response.
You’ve likely experienced this directly, in-person, during a visit to an independent bookstore: the bookseller leading you through the aisles, all-but-tugging you to a special shelf, or a slot on a table, picking up a book and pressing it into your hands, saying, almost breathlessly, “You must read this!”
For this year-end column, we’ve combed through the dozens of recommendations, a year of reading, to create a double-handful of special books, a stack of a dozen or so books to fill your carry-bag, to fill your winter nights with sheer reading pleasure.
Simply put, you must read these.
We’ll be back in January to begin another year of books, another year of discoveries.
Until then, though, we wish you warm nights, full bellies, and the happiest of reading.
By Rob Wiersema
I may be in the minority, but I've actually become quite fond of Family Day. In part, it's a practical thing: I love the way it breaks up that long stretch between Christmas and Easter, that formerly bleak, wintery run of five-day weeks with no respite. In part, I like its ramshackle nature, an invented holiday which occurs on different days across the country.
Mostly, though—and feel free to call me soft—I like it because I buy into the premise. The occasion gives me a chance, once a year, to really think about family, and what it means.
We're all members of a number of different families: our biological roots and the friends we choose to surround ourselves with are, of course, the most obvious families, and worthy of being celebrated 365 days a year.
But then there are the families we stumble into, the groups we may not have been aware we were joining, but become, over time, as close-knit as the more traditional varieties.
For me, that extended family is booksellers.
And what a strange, eccentric family we are.
When I began working as a bookseller a quarter century ago, I didn't realize that some of my closest, longest-running relationships would be with other booksellers, a network that has spanned time and geography. Independent booksellers are all quirky, all individualistic, all occasionally wild-headed, all dreamers: you have to be to survive in this business. But booksellers aren't islands unto themselves; they're a family.
When booksellers meet, it's a …
It’s a pleasure to be in conversation this week with Vancouver writer Zoey Leigh Peterson. Her sublime first novel, Next Year, For Sure, is out this month with Doubleday Canada.
Kirkus Reviews calls the book “a crisp, exciting exploration of love, friendship, and everything in between” and says “Peterson’s one to watch”.
Zoey Leigh Peterson was born in England, grew up all over the United States, and now lives in Canada. Her fiction has appeared in The Walrus, EVENT, Grain, and PRISM international and has been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She is the recipient of the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction (The Malahat Review) and the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award (The New Quarterly). Next Year, For Sure is her first novel.
Trevor Corkum: Your novel Next …
This week, I’m chatting with Katherena Vermette, author of the extraordinary debut novel The Break. The book was recently shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award and has been receiving rave reviews across the country.
The Globe and Mail calls The Break “an incredible feat of storytelling.” The National Post says “Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year and one of the best.”
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. In addition to winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, her first book, North End Love Songs, is the 2015 selection for Manitoba’s provincial book club, On the Same Page. Vermette has recently been shortlisted for the inaugural Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award. Her work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies across the globe. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University …