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The Recommend: April 2016

Most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of authors Andrew Forbes (The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays), Peter Behrens (Carry Me) and Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus and soon, The Voodoo Killings); librarian Jamie-Marie Thomas; and me (Kiley Turner).

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Andrew Forbes recommends A Token of My Affliction, by Janette Platana

I want to say that Janette Platana's excellent story collection A Token of My Affliction is a funhouse mirror on domestic life, but that's not quite right. It's not a cracked mirror, either. I'm flipping through all the mirror metaphors here, and none fit. What it is is a magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.

“Invisible Friends” begins with a sequence which deploys the language of crime reportage to describe in unsettling fashio …

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Katherine Govier: On Mother Goose and Reading With Mum

Half For You and Half For Me

What is the magic and what is the meaning of the nursery rhymes that stay in our heads for a lifetime? The answers are here in Katherine Govier's new book, Half For You and Half For Me, whose enchanting introduction appears below.

Some rhymes describe historical events and some are just plain nonsense. Some of the oldest rhymes were never intended for the nursery, but for the street—where they came to life as popular judgments on events of the day. In Half For You and Half For Me, the author breaks the codes of these nursery rhymes in accessible, amusing explanations. She also adds some classic Canadiana, including a poem by star children's poet Dennis Lee.

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95 years ago, when my mother was born, her parents bought a beautiful book: The Jessie Willcox Smith Mother Goose. They read it to her while she sat on their knees. When she was old enough for crayons and scissors, she expressed her affection all over the pages. She kept it until she grew up and became a mother. I have a picture of Mum reading to me; I am about two, and I am entranced. I remember how she laughed. I loved the fact that words on a page could make her laugh.

30 years passed and I had two children of my own. When we visited their grandparents, the Mother Goose came out, and we read together. …

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