Open Book's Midsummer Reading Suggestions

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Whether you're cooling off on a dock with your feet in the lake or sitting in your apartment with your feet in a bucket, you'll want a big stack of books by your side to help you while away the remaining lazy days of summer. Have a gander at Open Book's midsummer reading suggestions and discover some remarkable books.

Open Book writer in residence, Liz Worth, recommends Crystallography by Christian Bök: "This is one of the first poetry books that made me want to push my own boundaries as a writer. When I need a little bit of inspiration, I randomly flip open a page and find it."

Perfect for lazy days at the cottage or hours in the backseat of the car while you're en route, Vincent Boudgourd's My Beastly Book of Silly Things and My Beastly Book of Twisted Tales (both from OwlKids) offer hours of doodling fun.

Desi Di Nardo's latest collection of poetry, The Cure is a Forest (Guernica), reflects the strong connection that she shares with her surroundings and the influence of Canada's northern backwoods on the her writing.

One mistake one summer morning forever changes the life of the protagonist in Farzana Doctor's award-winning novel, Six Metres of Pavement (Dundurn). Set in Toronto, Doctor's unforgettable novel delves into the nature of grief and redemption.

Rich in captivating metaphors, Sue Goyette's latest collection of poetry, outskirts (Brick Books), should be on every summer reading list. John Steffler writes, "Goyette peels back the surface of the familiar human world to reveal the forest-world mysteries, the shape shifting, the glories and agonies truly at play there."

In an interview with Open Book, Brian Henderson describes his latest outstanding collection of poetry, Sharawadji (Brick Books), as "a kind of exercise in transubstantiation; souls move through it, but also other spirit things such as toxins, birds, longings, fleetings, dream detritus, loved ones."

Joyful and explorative, layered and personal, the poems in Maureen Hynes's third collection of poetry, Marrow, Willow (Pedlar Press), look at the "human project of mortality" from surprising angles.

"This book changed my life," writes Open Book's writer in residence, Liz Worth, about 1978 by Daniel Jones. "It is one of the finest punk rock novels out there and one of the few books that I have read over and over again since I first discovered it. Even though I would probably hate all of the characters in real life, whenever I read it I wish I could hang out with them, even just for one night."

Writer in residence Liz Worth also recommends Dirty, Drunk and Punk (Insomniac Press): "The story of Toronto’s notorious punk band and gang Bunchofuckingoofs was way overdue to be told. Thankfully Jennifer Morton stepped up to the job and turned it into an incredibly innovative tome that is part Toronto history, part art spectacle, part scrapbook and all exciting."

What's a scab? Do fish sing? How is a rainbow made? Kids will want to know the answers to these and the other 300+ brilliant questions that they'll find in You Asked, a collection of the best questions ever asked by Owl Magazine readers.

In her memoir, So Few on Earth (Dundurn), Josie Penny tells us about her childhood in Labrador during the 1940s and 1950s. Penny's harrowing account of her years spent at Lockwood Boarding School, where she suffered punishments, bullying and rape, is a remarkable, must-read story of perseverance.

A stiffly poured highball of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, biography and vodka, Michael Blouin's Wore Down Trust (Pedler Press) uses the rhythms and tones of the blues to dip in and out of the lives of Johnny Cash and Alden Nowlan.

"It came in a dream," B.W. Powe told Open Book when asked about the inspiration for his latest book, These Shadows Remain: A Fable (Guernica). A perfect summer escape, Powe's extraordinary fable blurs the lines between illusion and reality.

Writer in residence Liz Worth writes, "Don Pyle’s collection of photos he snapped of Toronto’s punk scene in the 1970s is more than a coffee table book. Trouble in the Camera Club: A Photographic Narrative of Toronto’s Punk History 1976 – 1980 (ECW Press) weaves Pyle’s personal memories and experiences throughout the book, coupling photos that sweat and scream all on their own with Pyle’s poignant memories."

Head to cottage country with fiction writer and playwright Gregor Robinson's novel Providence Island (Dundurn). Set in northern Ontario, this absorbing summer read is about Ray Carrier who returns to the resort community of his childhood and grapples with unresolved and disturbing memories.

"This book perfectly captures the urgent boundlessness of adolescents in the ‘90s," writes Liz Worth about Jason Schneider's 3,000 Miles (ECW Press). "For so long I’d struggled to articulate the feeling that decade wore — it felt like coming undone, or going over one edge after another. I found all those words and emotions on the pages of 3,000 Miles."

Ann Snowcroft's debut poetry collection, The Truth of Houses (Brick Books), offers a moving examination of the domestic world. Globe and Mail reviewer Sonnet L'abbe writes, "The Truth of Houses is a poignant illustration of our impossible longings to find total security, whether that be in comfortable homes or in each other's arms."

Pick up a copy of Trillium Award-nominated author Ken Sparling's latest book, Intention Implication Wind (Pedlar Press), and discover the world of Chappy, Mirror and owl-eyed boy. In a recent interview, Sparling said of his novel, "My intentions seem to me to be very unprotected in this book. Unblinking. It’s like looking at the awful things that threaten to show themselves in any of my books, only this time I don’t blink so soon. It’s like looking at the world the way God or a cat might look at the world."

Take a mini-vacation around the world with Marina Sonkina's engrossing collection, Lucia's Eyes and Other Stories (Guernica). Sonkna's stories will take you to Mexico and Montreal and have you experiencing Russia in various time periods.

Jeff Szpirglas's latest book, You Just Can’t Help It! (OwlKids), will guide kids through the crazy science behind human behaviour. Nine to twelve year olds will love the DIY activities throughout the book as well as the fun illustrations.

In an interview with Open Book, Jennifer Still tells us that her remarkable second collection of poetry, Girlwood (Brick Books), "came together… as an act of claiming a particular time and place of formation, in this case a girlhood located on the wrong-side-of-the-tracks in the townhouse community of Winnipeg’s eccentric Girdwood Crescent."

You'll want to check out the poems in spoken-word artist Dane Swan's first collection, Bending the Continuum (Guernica). They have a hip, fresh feel, and Swan's influences are as diverse as Roddenberry, the CanLit canon, the Harlem Renaissance, hip-hop and the Caribbean oral tradition of Griotism.

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