Living

9 Books Every Canadian Should Read This Summer—According To Our Favourite Indie Booksellers

Including fiction, a graphic anthology on Indigenous history and a gorgeous regional cookbook.

The book cover for "My Grandmother's Hands"

My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakem

This book is a great guide for anyone looking to unlearn racialization and white supremacy from a psychological perspective. The focus is on the body and how we as people have all been affected by racism and how embedded it is in our DNA. It also offers practical exercises so you can really do the subconscious work of unlearning racism and its many offshoots. Menakem’s theories and practices will have a positive, lasting impact on your body and mind!

—Cecilia Nailah Tataa, Venus Envy, Halifax

The book cover for The Lonliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, by Adrian Tomine

This is a laugh-out-loud funny graphic memoir which shows how Tomine’s childhood obsession with comic books blossomed into a career as one of the most important voices of the graphic novel age. The book is a profound rumination on what it means to devote oneself to a particular craft—and on how parenthood can change your perspective completely. As we travel from Tomine’s childhood to the present day, he offers an intimate portrait of his love life and family, as well as the awkward moments and embarrassments that marked his path to becoming a New Yorker cover artist and bestselling author.

—Luke Langille, Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal

The book cover for This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold is a visually striking graphic anthology written, drawn and coloured by Indigenous writers and artists with a forward by Alicia Elliott. The ten stories in this anthology illustrate snippets of the last 150 years of Indigenous history and resistance, highlighting important people and moments of time that don’t usually get the recognition that they deserve. It’s written for young adults, but people of all ages can also enjoy and learn from it. As we strive to understand and dismantle racism in Canada, this book is a perfect place to start.

—Janet Hoy, The City & The City Books, Hamilton, Ont.

The book cover for The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half, by Britt Bennett

This beautifully written and evocative novel invites the reader into the lives of two identical twins, Desiree and Stella Vignes. They are known as the “lost twins” of Mallard, a small town in Louisiana whose citizens are largely light-skinned Black Americans, and was founded on the idea that each generation would be lighter than the last. The book spans the ’50s to the late ’80s. Desiree and Stella escape to New Orleans at 16, choosing wildly different paths as they navigate their way through adulthood. Stella chooses to “pass” as a white woman, cutting off all ties to her family and hometown. Desiree eventually returns to Mallard, fleeing an abusive marriage and bringing her young, dark-skinned daughter along with her. Britt Bennett weaves together a tale of race and identity, and how trauma and consequences can shape a family for generations to come. This is the type of novel that sits with you long after you finished reading it. It is honest, emotional, powerful and quite simply, a wonderful read.

—Angela Torgenson, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg

The book cover for How to Be Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi

In the follow-up to his brilliant 2016 book Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi uses personal narrative to explore ideas of racism and antiracism. He identifies racist ideas and policies and calls on us all to actively challenge them to create a more equitable society.

—Peter Garden, Turning the Tide Bookstore, Saskatoon

The book cover for The Book of X

Two Dollar Radio

The Book of X, by Sarah Rose Etter

I love this book about Cassie, a girl born with her stomach twisted in the shape of a knot. It’s a surreal and dreamy read that draws you in with vivid imagery. Perfect for fans of Carmen Maria Machado, Roxane Gay, surrealism or unique fiction.

—Sabrina Buzzalino, Pages, Calgary

The book cover for A Small Silence

A Small Silence, by Jumoke Verissimo

Jumoke Verissimo is a Nigerian poet and novelist who is currently working on her PhD in English literature at the University of Alberta. Her debut novel is an elegant and timely story about Prof, an activist and retired academic who has just been released from prison, and Desire, a young student who visits him every evening, and the bond they form. Set in Lagos, this novel asks questions about the effects of loss, trauma, sacrifice, and marginalization on our relationships with others—themes that all readers should consider right now.

—Jason Purcell, Glass Bookshop, Edmonton

The book cover for the BC Wine Lover's Cookbook

The BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook, by Jennifer Schell

Each recipe highlights the amazing food and wine of British Columbia, with beautiful photography and personal stories from the families behind the wineries. One of my favourite recipes is Jan’s Cauliflower Soup with Apple Curry Marshmallows, from Quails’ Gate Winery. The marshmallow elevates the soup to a unique and incredibly tasty dish.

Alicia Neill, Mosaic Books, Kelowna, B.C.

The book cover for The Midnight Train to Prague

Midnight Train to Prague, by Carol Windley

Vancouver Island author Carol Windley is known for her tender, lyrical stories of ordinary people. Her latest novel follows Natalia, a young German woman, from a life of glamour and privilege alongside her frivolous mother, to the depths of suffering as an accused spy in Nazi-occupied Hungary. With a broad cast of richly-drawn characters and a lesser-known wartime setting, Midnight Train to Prague will satisfy readers of All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale. And its tale of a comfortable life upended by extraordinary circumstances is sure to resonate now more than ever.

—Justina Elias, Munro’s Books, Victoria