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Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

Summer Reads Part 2

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up for giveaway. Nine books at five giveaways each means FORTY-FIVE (45!) books up for grabs, so the odds are good, and the goods are AMAZING.

And if you can't wait, pick up these titles from your local bookstore or library shelf just in time for the long weekend!


Probaby Ruby, by Lisa Bird Wilson

About the book: For readers of Tommy Orange's There There and Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries, Probably Ruby is an audacious, brave and beautiful book about an adopted woman's search for her Indigenous identity.

Relinquished as an infant, Ruby is placed in a foster home and finally adopted by Alice and Mel, a less-than-desirable couple who can't afford to complain too loudly about Ruby's Indigenous roots. But when her new parents' marriage falls apart, Ruby finds herself vulnerable and in compromising situations that lead her to search, in the unlikeliest of places, for her Indigenous identity.

Unabashedly self-destructing on alcohol, …

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Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 1

Book Cover Summer Reads

Summer is HERE, and with it our impeccably curated Summer Books List, and just to make that sweet deal even sweeter, every single (awesome!) book on the list is up for giveaway.

There's something for every kind of reader on this list—fun fiction, speculative adventures, gripping mysteries, family drama, short fiction, and more. 

And even better? We're just getting your summer reading started! Stay tuned for the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2, coming to you at the end of July with ten more picks and another fantastic round of giveaways.

But in the meantime, don't miss your chance to win this excellent selection.


Home of the Floating Lily, by Silmy Abdullah

About the book: Caught between cultures, immigrant families from a Bengali neighbourhood in Toronto strive to navigate their home, relationships, and happiness.

Set in both Canada and Bangladesh, the eight stories in Home of the Floating Lily follow the lives of everyday people as they navigate the complexities of migration, displacement, love, friendship, and familial conflict. A young wo …

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Books for Summer Adventures

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!


Summer is a time for adventures! When you’re a kid anything can be magical when school is out — whether it’s camping, trips to the mall, playing at parks and splash pads, library visits, or swimming in the lake. For some, summer is all about being in nature while others can’t imagine a day beyond their cities, riding the subway to the next exciting stop. There are no rules for what makes a summer special, as long as you spend time relaxing with the people you love.


Here are some primary picture books and middle school novels that show how some people spend their holidays. Hopefully they spark a memory or inspire a new tradition!


In Cary Fagan’s The Big Swim, Ethan has one goal: to survive summer camp. It’s his first time away from home but although he’d rather join his parents on their trip to Europe, he accepts his fate and becomes determined to make the best of things. Sometimes things are hard and parents aren’t always around to help. This novel is great at showing ways to cope with sadness and anxiety, ways to take care of ourselves, and how to know when to push beyond our comfort z …

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Books Beat Boredom: 8 Things for Your Kids to Do this Summer

Beat boredom with these engaging titles that suggest amazing ways to engage with and have fun in the natural world. 


1) Plant an avocado tree!

Sprout, Seed, Sprout!, by Annika Dunklee, illustrated by Carey Sookocheff

About the book: One day, when a boy sees his dad cut an avocado in half, he decides to plant the fruit’s seed and grow it into…an avocado tree! One glass of water, two careful hands, and three pointy toothpicks later, it’s time to wait…and wait…and wait…for it to grow.

At long last, the boy and his faithful pet cat see one root, two roots, three roots emerge! Three scoops of soil, three sprinkles of water, and a lot more waiting…lead to one sturdy stem, two clapping hands, and three grateful cheers. The avocado tree starts to appear! One, two, and three years later, the tree grows taller still.

This charming story is told with lots of rhythm and repetition, paired with playful illustrations full of funny details about the trials of coaxing a seed into a plant. Readers will come away with a sense that the struggle to be patient and stick it out can be worthwhile, even when a result seems impossible.


2) Go hunting for sea glass/beach glass treasures!  

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8 Short Story Collections To Put on Your Summer Reading List

There's still plenty of summer left, and it's not too late to add these story collections to your reading lists. 


Zolitude, by Paige Cooper 

About the book: Fantastical, magnetic, and harsh—these are the women in Paige Cooper’s debut short story collection Zolitude. They are women who built time machines when they were nine, who buy plane tickets for lovers who won’t arrive. They are sisters writhing with dreams, blasé about sex but beggared by love—while the police horses have talons and vengeance is wrought by eagles the size of airplanes. Broken-down motorbikes and housebroken tyrannosaurs, cheap cigarettes and mail bombs—Cooper finds the beautiful and the disturbing in both the surreal and the everyday.

Troubling, carnal, and haunting, these stories are otherworldly travelogues through banal, eco-fabulist dystopias. Zolitude is a gorgeous, sad, and sexy work of slipstream and an atlas of fantastic isolation. The monstrous is human here, and tender.

Why we're taking notice: From The Toronto Star, "...across fourteen stories Cooper builds strange, genre-defying, sci-fi- and fantasy-infused realities that are distinctly her own. Truly, they’re like nothing else you’ve read lately. Whether funny, erotic, puzzling, Mirror Universe-y, or claustropho …

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5 Singular Summer Reads

So, have you read the one about the missing woman with the unreliable narrator where it turns out that things aren't exactly as they seem? Sure you have—five times at least. And while these well-worn tropes can be pretty nice to get lost in, we'd like to suggest some books that will shake up your summer reading a bit. Here are five books that aren't like the others, all of them terrific. 


At This Juncture, by Rona Altrows

About the book: Alarmed that Canada Post keeps losing money, Ariadne Jensen, a woman in her fifties, pitches the CEO with a scheme to save the corporation: she will get people to start writing and mailing letters again. As an inspiration to others, Ariadne writes bundles of letters for all to see; some are historical fiction, while others are drawn from her own correspondence. Each letter itself tells a story, while together they form a bigger story—about Ariadne, her determination to set wrongs right, her sly humour, and her loyalty to her best friend Leo, a gay man in his early twenties—that leaves the reader of At This Juncture informed, educated and, most importantly, entertained.

Why we're taking notice: This one is a MUST for epistolary fiction fans and anyone who appreciates the joy of reading and writing good old-fashioned letter …

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Your CAN'T FAIL Summer Fiction List

Summer reads, dock reads, cottage reads, beach books—they can get a bad rap, and sometimes these terms are shorthand for lack of substance. Which isn't remotely fair, because summer reads are some of the most important reads a person ever partakes in. I mean, can you imagine the abject disappointment of  being stranded on a beautiful beach with a novel that wasn't good? Your precious summer vacation might be totally shot. We're here to save you from such a disaster with this selection of smart, gripping, utterly absorbing fiction. Enjoy! 


Hunting Houses, by Fanny Britt

About the book: Tessa is a thirty-seven-year-old real estate agent living in Montreal. She adores her husband and three young sons, but she’s deeply unhappy and questioning the set of choices that have led to her present life.

After a surprising run-in with Francis, her ex-boyfriend and first love, Tessa arranges to see him. During the three days before their meeting, she goes about her daily life—there’s swimming lessons, science projects, and dirty dishes. As the day of her meeting with Francis draws closer she has to decide if she is willing to disrupt her stable, loving family life for an uncertain future with him.

With startling clarity and emotional force, Fanny Britt gives us a comp …

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Summer Reads: Robyn Harding and THE PARTY

Book Cover The Party

The Party, by Robyn Harding, is getting a lot of buzz—it's a Canadian Loan Stars pick for June 2017 and tops more than a few summer reading lists. Pitched as as a cross between Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party is a gripping and unsettling tale of domestic drama that goes very wrong. And in this Q&A, Robyn Harding tells us where the story came from, the surprisingly joys of writing dark, and how to make the reader keep turning the page. 


49th Shelf: A “good” family, “good” parents, an innocent sweet sixteen party: what could go wrong? Apart from everything. With what did this story begin for you, and how did it grow?

Robyn Harding: This story began with my own teenaged children. As responsible parents, my husband and I had to discuss substance use with our kids and set boundaries. But I learned that many parents still follow the adage: “They’re going to drink anyway, I’d rather they do it at home.” I started to think about the risks of this parenting choice. What if something terrible happened to a child who was drinking in your home? Or what if your child was hurt while drinking at a friend’s house? How would this affect everyone involved: the parents, the kids, th …

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Caterina Edwards on Lady Sleuths

Book Cover The Sicilian Wife

Truly, every season is the perfect season to curl up with a murder mystery, but there is something irresistible about gripping a gripping book in summer. In this list, Caterina Edwards, author of The Sicilian Wife, gives us the lowdown on Canada's most compelling lady sleuths, and a list of great summer reads to curl up with. 


What turns the reader of a mystery into a fan of a series? Compelling plots, good prose, and an evocative setting? Suspense? Certainly, but for me the ranking of these elements depends on my mood. What never changes is the need for an appealing sleuth.

I began reading a number of Canadian mysteries featuring female sleuths only after I finished The Sicilian Wife and had created Marisa De Luca, the newly appointed police chief of a station house in Alcamo, Sicily. I say "created," but the experience of writing Marisa was more discovering than making. She sprang from my subconscious fully formed; I simply had to pay attention. But when I considered continuing Marisa’s story in a sequel, I needed to figure out what worked and what didn’t. 

A detective who has her own series must be distinct in her talents, tastes, sidekicks, and stomping grounds, while sharing the characteristics of curiosity and foolhardiness. The genre demands she put …

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Your Next Great Summer Read

Summer reads can mean a lot of things, which is a good thing because we're a lot of different kinds of readers. And we're willing to bet you'll find a book on this eclectic list that's perfect for you.

The only other things you'll need are a hammock and a bit of sunshine. 


Summer on Lovers' Island, by Donna Alward

About the book: Lizzie Howard's life has always been adrenaline-charged. Top of her class at Harvard Med and now a gifted trauma doctor, Lizzie's medical career has always come before rest, relaxation, and especially romance. But when one careless mistake brings her future to a screeching halt, Lizzie's only chance at reviving it is to temporarily take over a friend's practice in Jewell Cove. The sleepy Maine coast, a world away from the bustling emergency room Lizzie knows and loves, leaves her feeling morelost than ever-until she meets widowed doctor Joshua Collins, and her heart starts beating a little bit faster...

Coming home to Jewell Cove was Josh's salvation after his wife died. Looking for peace among the familiar faces of friends and family, he's grateful to work in the town's small medical clinic by day and spend his nights trying to forget everything he's lost. Lizzie's big-city sensibilities are a brash reminder of the world he's pushed a …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Wild Summer Fun

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Sky and earth, large scale to small, these books cover the gamut of wild summer fun.

The Kids Book of the Night Sky, by Ann Love and Jane Drake, is a DIY resource for getting to know the summer sky. This one’s packed with stories from around the world (not just Greek legends) explaining the origins of the Milky Way, the waxing/waning moons, and the zodiac. Activities such as using stars to tell time, constellation flash cards, and heavenly word games are accented with four seasonal star maps, a glossary, astronomical riddles, and an interview with a star revealing his life story, from gas cloud to white dwarf.

Book Cover Canadian Wild Flowers and Emblems

For more down-to-earth readers, there’s Canadian Wild Flowers and Emblems, by Colleayn O. Mastin. Each page contains a painting of a flower, illustrated by Jan Sovak, and a two-stanza poem outlining the origin of each flower’s name, its distinctive characteristics, and whether it’s edible or poisonous. All provincial flowers are noted, …

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Summer Contest: Tell Us How It Was!



Want to win some great prizes from 49th Shelf this summer, including a gorgeous e-reader or limited editions of Canadian classics? Write a thoughtful review or comment of a book you’ve read and you’ll have the chance to do just that.

Our job here on 49th Shelf is to make it easy for you to find your next great Canadian read. We do that via expertly curated book lists, guest posts and author interviews, and more. In addition, 49th Shelf members help each other out with recommendations and reviews—and we want even more of these!

You'll see the "Community Reviews and Comments" panel just under the cover image on every title listing page on the site. It looks just like this and it's really easy to add your review or note:


Until August 31, every review or comment you contribute for any book on the site enters you to win some swell prizes.


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