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.
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 woman moves to Toronto after getting married but soon discovers her husband is not who she believes him to be. A mother reconciles her heartbreak when her sons defy her expectations and choose their own paths in life. A lonely international student returns to Bangladesh and forms an unexpected bond with her domestic helper. A working-class woman, caught between her love for Bangladesh and her determination to raise her daughter in Canada, makes a life-altering decision after a dark secret from the past is revealed.
In each of the stories, characters embark on difficult journeys in search of love, dignity, and a sense of belonging.
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead: A Novel, by Emily Austin
About the book: Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.
The Quiet is Loud, by Samantha Garner
About the book: The perfect marriage of literary and speculative fiction for readers of Kazuo Ishiguro and NK Jemisin.
When Freya Tanangco was ten, she dreamed of her mother's death right before it happened. That’s when she realized she was a veker, someone with enhanced mental abilities and who is scorned as a result. Freya's adult life has been spent in hiding: from the troubled literary legacy created by her author father, and from the scrutiny of a society in which vekers often meet with violence.
When her prophetic dreams take a dangerous turn, Freya finds herself increasingly forced to sacrifice her own anonymity—and the fragile safety that comes with it—in order to protect those around her.
Interwoven with themes of Filipino Canadian and mixed-race identity, fantastical elements from Norse and Filipino mythology, and tarot card symbolism, The Quiet Is Loud is an intergenerational tale of familial love and betrayal, and what happens when we refuse to let others tell our stories for us.
Instamom: A Novel, by Chantel Guertin
About the book: In this #funny, #wise, #emotionally compelling look at modern love and finding your true path, a proudly kid-free influencer meets the ultimate #dealbreaker...
It's the influencer's golden rule: know your niche. Kit Kidding has found hers on Instagram, where she gets paid to promote brands and share expertly curated posts about her fun, fabulous, child-free life. Kit likes kids just fine, but she passionately believes that women who choose not to become mothers shouldn't have to face guilt. Or judgment. Or really hot chefs who turn out to be single dads.
Will MacGregor is aggravating, sexy, persistent, averse to social media, and definitely a bad idea. As soon as Kit learns his parenting status, she vows to put their scorching one-night stand behind her and move on. But Will and Kit are thrown together on an Instagram campaign, and the more time she spends with him—and his whip-smart, eight-year-old daughter, Addie—the more difficult it is to stay away, much less sustain what Will so cleverly calls her "Resting Beach Face." Kit's picture-perfect career path is suddenly clashing with the possibility of a different future—messy, complicated and real. Which life does she truly want? Will she have to re-invent herself? And will love still be waiting by the time she figures it out?
Light on a Part of the Field, by Kevin Holowack
About the book: In his evocative debut novel, Light on a Part of the Field, Kevin Holowack introduces us to a family grappling with artistic ambition, mental illness, and rifts that may not be possible to mend. Set in B.C. and Alberta in the 1960s and 1970s, this is a novel of finely observed vignettes offering a refracted look at art and family in the modern West.
A young artist, Ruth, and her obsessive husband are struck by lightning, an experience that throws their lives into a universe of intense beauty and angst. Years later, Ruth lives on a farm her husband bought before his mysterious disappearance, and she creates idyllic but unremarkable paintings to cope with her confusion and loss. Then, without warning, her eldest daughter Gayle is love-struck by a travelling stranger and runs off to Edmonton where she too must contend with poverty, sickness, and her father’s upsetting legacy. Meanwhile, farm-bound Ruth becomes more frantic in her work and begins longing for human contact as her house and animals disintegrate around her.
As Gayle and Ruth seek new ways of connecting in order to remedy their unsettling family legacy, they begin a complicated process of renewal and must decide whether they can reconcile despite all the pain they have caused one another.
Sufferance: A Novel, by Thomas King
About the book: Jeremiah Camp, a.k.a. the Forecaster, can look into the heart of humanity and see the patterns that create opportunities and profits for the rich and powerful. Problem is, Camp has looked one too many times, has seen what he hadn’t expected to see and has come away from the abyss with no hope for himself or for the future.
So Jeremiah does what any intelligent, sensitive person would do. He runs away. Goes into hiding in a small town, at an old residential school on an even smaller Indian reserve, with no phone, no Internet, no television. With the windows shut, the door locked, the mailbox removed to discourage any connection with the world, he feels safe at last. Except nobody told the locals that they were to leave Jeremiah alone.
And then his past comes calling. Ash Locken, head of the Locken Group, the multinational consortium that Jeremiah has fled, arrives on his doorstep with a simple proposition. She wants our hero to formulate one more forecast, and she’s not about to take no for an answer. Before he left the Locken empire, Jeremiah had created a list of twelve names, every one a billionaire. The problem is, the people on the list are dying at an alarming and unnatural rate. And Ash Locken wants to know why.
A sly and satirical look at the fractures in modern existence, Sufferance is a bold and provocative novel about the social and political consequences of the inequality created by privilege and power—and what we might do about it.
Unlocking, by Amy LeBlanc
About the book: Louise Till, mother of two, has inherited her father's hardware store after her parents' unexpected deaths. She begins to cut copies of her customers' keys for herself, each one a talisman against grief and the terrible guilt she feels at not having realized that her parents were desperately unhappy.
Louise could use the keys, but she doesn't. Not until her life is overturned, again, when her marriage falls apart. Lou gives in to temptation, letting herself into Euphemia Rosenbaum's home. What follows is a tale of blackmail, break-ins, an unsolved mystery, and more secrets than Lou ever wanted to know.
Lou must confront not only the lives of her neighbors, but the unspoken truths of her family and the doors within herself for which there are no keys. Told over the course of one long winter, Unlocking is a poignant and penetrating exploration of grief, community, family, and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.
Every City Is Every Other City: A Gordon Stewart Mystery, by John McFetridge
About the book: Behind the scenes, nothing is what it seems.
Gord Stewart, 40 years old, single, moved back into his suburban childhood home to care for his widowed father. But his father no longer needs care and Gord is stuck in limbo. He’s been working in the movie business as a location scout for years, and when there isn’t much filming, as a private eye for a security company run by ex-cops, OBC. When a fellow crew member asks him to find her missing uncle, Gord reluctantly takes the job. The police say the uncle walked into some dense woods in Northern Ontario and shot himself, but the man’s wife thinks he’s still alive.
With the help of his movie business and OBC connections, Gord finds a little evidence that the uncle may be alive. Now Gord has two problems: what to do when he finds a man who doesn’t want to be found, and admitting that he’s getting invested in this job. For the first time in his life, Gord Stewart is going to have to leave the sidelines and get into the game. Even if it might get him killed.
The List of Last Chances, by Christina Myers
About the book: At thirty-eight years old, Ruthie finds herself newly unemployed, freshly single, sleeping on a friend's couch and downing a bottle of wine each night. Having overstayed her welcome and desperate for a job, Ruthie responds to David's ad: he's looking for someone to drive his aging mother, Kay, and her belongings from PEI to Vancouver. Ruthie thinks it's the perfect chance for a brief escape and a much-needed boost for her empty bank account.
But once they're on the road, Kay reveals that she's got a list of stops along the way that's equal parts sightseeing tour, sexual bucket-list, and trip down memory lane. As David prods for updates and a speedy arrival to his home in Vancouver, Kay begins to share details about a long-lost love and Ruthie takes a detour to play matchmaker, but finds herself caught up in a web of well-intentioned lies.
With the road ahead uncertain, and the past and present colliding, will Ruthie be able to forge a new path? Heartfelt and humorous, The List of Last Chances follows a pair of reluctant travel companions across the country, into an unexpected friendship, new adventures, and the rare gift of second chances.
Radium Girl, by Sofi Papamarko
About the book: Radium Girl is a collection full of dark wonder where Sofi Papamarko explores the boundaries of love, death, loneliness and justice. In these twelve deft stories, we are introduced to a cast of unforgettable characters: Margie and Lu, teenaged conjoined twins; Rosie who cruises funerals; Pete the predatory magician; the subconscious mind of Marie Curie; Elda the Radium Girl and many more. These are magical stories; they twist and turn in unexpected ways, leaving the reader sometimes shocked, sometimes delighted and often breathless. With pitch-perfect writing, Papamarko shows us how human beings cope, break and triumph in the face of often unbearable circumstances.