Celebrating Indigenous Reads

Guess what?! It’s First Nations Public Library Week and we are excited! First, let us point you to this great website that features information about First Nations libraries and the important work they do in communities across the province:

http://fnplw.olsn.ca/

In addition to supporting and promoting language revitalization efforts, this week is about celebrating “First Nation peoples and cultures, past and present.” This is why we’re excited! We get to share a list of awesome books, and you know how much we love to talk about books!

81FHAZWBpeL

There There by Tommy Orange

This particular list came out of an “If you like this … read this …” list based on Tommy Orange’s debut. There There features a cacophony of stories that collide in a stunning and tragic moment. Orange’s writing is powerful and persuasive and it will be fascinating to see what comes next.

If you like There There, we suggest the following novels because they are also written by award-winning talented people who are Indigenous. I’ve chosen these titles because of the beautiful varieties of stories told. All these books feature an emphasis on craft and highlight some of the best of contemporary #IndigenousLit.

richard wagamese

Starlight by Richard Wagamese

Starlight is beautiful and compelling and tragic and hopeful. Written with strength and vulnerability, it is a true gift to readers. This posthumously published book has been carefully preserved and left unfinished. No one tries to write an ending for Wagamese; instead, we have his vision of a novel that is breathtaking in its descriptions of the forest and our relationship to the natural world.

71df455bd713c396e116a5f9424cc828

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

This is one of my all time faves. It is surprising and serious and silly and subtle all at once. This book is like no other I have read before or since.  I love the portrait of a community and find myself getting carried away into Little No Horse each time I reread the book. If you enjoy Erdrich’s writing, you’re in luck because she has published fifteen novels and a number of children’s books and short stories.

son of a trickster

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

I have loved Eden Robinson’s work for many years and this new trilogy was worth the wait! Her writing is so compelling. Robinson’s characters are hurting and the relationships they share are both complicated and complex. The stunning cover reflects the imagery and the mystery Robinson’s writing holds. If you want to keep reading Jared’s story, book two is Trickster Drift. Book three is still in the works. Coming soon, I hope!

hear tberries

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in a Goodreads Giveaway and then promptly told everyone who would listen to read this book. I was so moved by this unbelievably brave memoir. I am in awe of the way Terese Marie Mailhot manages to oscillate between stunningly crafted sentences and stark moments of confession. Heart Berries is a meditation on existence, recognition, and pain.

echo

A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vermette

A Girl Called Echo is the first graphic novel in a series by Katherena Vermette illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. I’m a big fan so far! It is super diverse and many people and identities are represented here. Not to mention the artwork is absolutely stunning! If you enjoy Echo’s tale of time travel, check out book two called Red River Resistance.

thomas king

Dreadfulwater by Thomas King

Thomas King is another author I have loved for years and I am SO late to this party … who knew he writes mysteries?! I really love King’s dry sense of humour and I delighted at the unexpected giggles. If you enjoy Dreadfulwater, you’re in luck because there are already four books out and the fifth is scheduled to be released early next year.

marrow theive

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

You may already be familiar with multiple award-winner Marrow Thieves since it was the One Book One London selection this year. It is a young adult novel that tackles racism, trauma, and apocalypse while highlighting the ability of people to survive and hope under horrifying circumstances. Frenchie and his crew give new meaning to the words “resistance” and “community” in this haunting narrative.

split tooth

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

You may know Tanya Tagaq as a Polaris Prize and Juno award winning singer. Her genre bending first book is outstanding.  It is challenging and careful and so brutally honest that at times it is like a punch in the gut. This book is truly sublime in the original sense of the word: beautiful and terrifying. I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. There were so many moments where this story took my breath away.

sherman alexie

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

This unique memoir is told in the form of essays, poems, photos, and tears. It is a beautiful and compelling portrait of a complex and fractured relationship. Perhaps the best way to summarize is to quote a line from the first page: “I didn’t grow up in a dream house. I lived in a wooden improvisation.” Full of contradictions, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a journey through grief.

81lRnlKGoNL

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

A book about a “young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer and NDN glittery princess???” YES PLEASE!!! I was absolutely floored by this Whitehead’s honesty. The way he describes the confluence of love and pain is so bold that it is at once complex and stunningly simple. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that Whitehead is a fan of Eden Robinson because I feel like Jared and Jonny would be fast friends.

STPL Summer Wrap Up

Top Readers

Summer 2019 is all done, and we must say it was a great one here at STPL! As we head into crisp fall weather let’s have a look back at everything we got up to over the last few months.

Summer Reading Club

Members of Summer Reading Club logged their reading all summer in their special SRC Passports. Staff checked passports throughout the summer and kept track of everyone’s totals. We’re proud to say our readers smashed last year’s reading record! Here are the numbers from 2019:

  • 7710 Books Read
  • 501 Kids Registered for SRC
  • 761 Passport Checks done by Staff

In addition to all the summer reading, we had so many fun programs this summer! Here are a few of the highlights:

 

#STPLSUMMERSNAPS: Summer Photo Challenge

This year we wanted to throw a challenge out there for adults, because why should kids have all the summer fun? We held an online photo challenge called #stplsummersnaps and invited people to share photos on our social media that fit within ten different themes: Celebration Selfie, Local History, Books and “Brews”, Local Eats, Library Books on the Go, Active in Elgin, Summer Sounds, Garden Pride, Eco Warrior, and Summer Moments.

The results of the challenge were 112 photos! Each photo was counted as an entry into a grand prize draw. Right now you can see some of our favourite photos from the summer on our Art Wall on the Main Level. Here are a few of the entries, drop in and take a stroll past the Art Wall to see more!

 

Thanks for making summer 2019 so amazing everyone!

Teen Summer: Escape the Library Labyrinth

You’ve entered the Library Labyrinth and now you’ve run into your first challenge!

Use this as your guide book if you run into a challenge that requires a little bit of inspiration.

Book Challenges

Try a genre that you wouldn’t normally read

Need a suggestion? Check out our Recommended Reads Newsletter!

Or use NovelistPlus for recommendations. Find it here.

Check out a Non-Fiction book

Try searching our catalogue for a topic that interests you!

Pick a friend and try buddy reading

Want to hang out with your friends but read at the same time? Or stay connected to a friend who is away for the summer? Try buddy reading!

Pick a book both you and your friend are interested in and enjoy it together. You can either read your own copy of the book at the same time so you can experience all the feels together (try reading one chapter a week or creating a reading schedule if you have a long distance friend) or share a copy and take turns trading after chapters or reading aloud to each other.

See how many books you can balance on your head

Pretty self explanatory but our Children’s and Teens’ staff member Jess can do an impressive 7 teen novels and wanted to show off.

jess

Try Spine Poetry

Use book spines of multiple books to create a poem or sentence. Get creative!

spine-poem

Read to Someone Special

Share a book you love with someone you love.

 

Community Challenges

Visit Horton Market #supportlocal

Visit Saturdays from 8am to noon!

http://www.hortonfarmersmarket.ca/

Try a game of Disc Golf at V.A. Barrie Park

Did you know that St.Thomas is home to one of Ontario’s hidden Disc Golf gems?

The V.A. Barrie course was established in 1985! One of the highlights of this beautiful course is the spectacular ninth hole, honored in 1995 as one of the Greatest Disc Golf holes in the world. And St. Thomas holds 10 World titles!

https://www.ontariodiscsports.ca/courses/va-barrie-park

Enjoy a St.Thomas Heritage Walking Tour

Pick your favourite tour and get exploring!

Take a silly photo with Jumbo

Visit Canada’s first elevated park

While the whole park may not be open yet, you can still visit and enjoy Canada’s first elevated park!

Explore either Pinafore or WaterWorks Park

Take some time to enjoy our beautiful parks! Take a walk through the Unity Peace Labyrinth, cool down in the splash pads, or check out the wildlife sanctuary!

 

The Details:

Each challenge completed means a ballot into our GRAND PRIZE draw happening at the end of the summer. Cross the challenges off your list as you go!

If you are one of the lucky few explorers who make it through the labyrinth in one try or you are just a very adventurous explorer, you can continue completing the challenges even if you have already conquered the labyrinth.

If you complete all 12 challenges then you will be entered into a BONUS prize draw.

We love photo evidence so try to take photos whenever you are completing a challenge. We’d love to see them, either in person or on our social media pages using the #STPLlibrarylabyrinthchallenge hashtag.

Summer Podcast Roundup

Whether you’re travelling this summer or lounging around at home, podcasts are a great way to learn and be entertained while you soak up the sun! Getting into the world of podcasts can be daunting: there are thousands of podcasts out there on thousands of topics! If you don’t know where to start, we can help. We offer an Introduction to Podcasts to workshop where staff walk you through how to find and listen to podcasts you’ll enjoy. We also compiled a diverse list of staff favourites, categorized by topic, to help you explore podcasts on your own! Read on for the list and get ready to dive into some great listening.

podcast

Interview Podcasts

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – The funny talk show host has hilarious conversations with good friends.

The Dork Forest – Comedian interviews people about what they are most ‘dorky’ about.

Finding Mastery with Michael Gervais – Deep chats with people from all walks of life about leadership.

On Being – Interviews with guests from all different backgrounds that always begin with the same question: was there a spiritual component to your upbringing?

WTF with Marc Maron – In one of the most celebrated interview podcasts out there, comedian Marc Maron interviews a diverse range of people about their lives.

Current Events and Culture

The Cracked Podcast – Discussion on a wide range of topics from current issues to pop culture, sometimes one-on-one or with a panel submitting their take on a topic (often funny).

More Perfect – This podcast examines the decisions of the US Supreme Court from a variety of angles.

Under the Influence – Fun CBC show that looks at the culture and practice of ads and marketing.

Movies/TV/Acting

Friendly Fire – A critical and historical look at war movies, with bad jokes!

Unspooled – Excellent reviews of the American Film Institute’s “Top 100” films.

You Must Remember This – In-depth, well-researched serials on individuals and incidents from old Hollywood.

History

BBC History Extra – A wide range of topics, often interviews with writers and researchers.

The Dollop – Two comedians explore the bizarre people and moments of (mostly) American history.

Hardcore History – Very deep dives into a topic (each series is many hours in length).

Historically Black – A limited 8 episode podcast that was released to coincide with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Histories of the Unexpected – Two energetic professors look at topics from different angles.

History Hit – Short interviews with authors and producers on a wide range of topics.

In Our Time – BBC panel show with professors, various topics.

Science

All In The Mind – Explores the connections between our behaviours and our brains.

Freakonomics Radio – Explores the fascinating hidden side of everything.

Infinite Monkey Cage – From the BBC, serious science topics with a light-hearted slant.

Radiolab – Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich interview many people and are not afraid to tackle themes from the mundane to the bizarre to the hilarious.

Science Vs – Fact-checking current topics in science.

Stuff You Should Know – One of the most popular podcasts in the world, hosts Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant dissect a topic each episode and explain ‘how it works’.

Comedy & Trivia

Because News – Gavin Crawford quizzes funny Canadians about current events.

Comedy Bang Bang – Improv interviews and games.

No Such Thing As a Fish – The researchers from the British quiz show QI share their favourite facts.

Taggert and Torrens – Jeremy Taggart and Johnathan Torrens have long conversations, often funny, that touch on Canadian nostalgia.

The Debaters – Comedians debate different issues and the winner is chosen by the live audience and the hilarious host, Steve Patterson.

True Crime

Generation Why – Two men take an objective look at mostly murders (older episodes feature many mysteries as well).

In the Dark – In-depth exploration of cases that have tied up the justice system for many years.

My Favorite Murder – Two women talk about all things murder.

Small Town Dicks – Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson!) hosts detectives who talk about small town crimes.

Fictional Podcasts

Girl In Space – An audio diary of a girl in space.

Lore – Explores the folklore behind superstitions and the truth behind urban legends.

Welcome to Night Vale – News, weather, and town events are relayed in a radio broadcast format from the spooky town of Night Vale, where supernatural events occur regularly.

Untitled-1

 

Disclaimer: Although some podcasts will let you know with an E symbol that the broadcast contains explicit content, some may not let you know that the conversation or themes are not appropriate for all audiences. Keep in mind that podcasts are not regulated in the same way as cable television. Please note: we are not responsible for the content of the podcasts mentioned or recommended here. Please use your own discretion to determine which podcasts are right for you.

 

New! Children’s and Teens’ Recommended Reads Newsletters

New at STPL: Recommended Reads Newsletters for children and teens! Kids, teens, and parents are often looking for new reading material, so why not subscribe and get recommendations sent to you each month?

ben-white-148435-unsplash

Since March, staff have been creating monthly newsletters highlighting recommended reads for children and teens in 6 themes: Teen Reads, Fiction for Kids, Graphic Novels for Kids, Nonfiction for Kids, Staff Picks for Kids and Picture Books!

blog 1blog 2blog 3blog 4

 

Each newsletter features recommended reads with descriptions, and clicking on a book’s cover photo will take you to our catalogue where you can put the book on hold, just have your library card and PIN number ready! Newsletters will also be available on our website here. Make it easy to find that great next book:  sign up to have one or more newsletters delivered straight to your inbox each month!

Monthly Newsletters for Readers!

Browsing our collection of books can be fun. But sometimes it’s nice to be given a short list of books that come recommended! What if that list were to arrive in your inbox monthly?

newsletter

We want to make it easy for you to quickly add books to your “to read” list, so we’ve created monthly newsletters for adults in 6 themes: Staff Picks, Thrillers, Mysteries, Cookbooks, Historical Fiction and Nonfiction.

 

Asset 1chris-benson-556355-unsplash (1)

 

Each newsletter contains 5 recommended reads per month. Simply clicking on a book’s cover photo within the newsletter takes you right to our online catalogue where you can put the book on hold! All you need is your library card number and PIN code. If you don’t know your PIN code, come on in and we’ll reset it for you. Take a shortcut to some good reads! Sign up here for up to 6 Monthly Newsletters or check out current and back issues of newsletters on our website here! Happy Reading!

P.S. You can also subscribe to our What’s Happening newsletter and get a monthly heads-up on upcoming events and workshops at the library!

STPL does the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2019!

Do you do a reading challenge every year, or set a reading goal? If so, we hope you’ll follow along with library staff Jess as she does Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2019! We welcome Jess to the blog to explain why she chose this challenge.

jess-&-fever-dream

Every year I participate in the Goodreads Challenge (check out our Introduction to Goodreads Workshop here!) to help keep me motivated. This year I wanted something to help guide my reading. I am participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder 2019 Challenge. There is a list of 24 categories and people can choose whatever book they like to check off a category. There’s no guide on the length of books or even that books have to be specifically for adults. Remember, it’s okay to read YA! Download and print out the list here.

img_1622

When I first saw the list, I was really impressed by the range and diversity of options. I have never read manga, and it has been years since I read a novel in letters. I know that some of these categories will be a bit of a stretch for me so hopefully I can read outside my comfort zone! I have really enjoyed the books I’ve read so far. Look out for my reviews by following along with me on St. Thomas Public Library’s Instagram as I work through the challenge, and hopefully you will be inspired to challenge yourself as well!

Feel free to post about what you’re reading, and don’t forget to tag @stthomaspubliclibrary and use the #ReadHarder hashtag on your posts so we can see how you’re doing!

 

 

Reading Rewind: What St. Thomas Read in 2018!

Header-Img

It’s almost the end of the year, so we’re taking a look back at what YOU read, watched, and listened to in 2018, based on highest circulation numbers! Take a look at some of the most popular titles this year:

ST. THOMAS READS: TOP 10

 

  1. The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  2. The Fallen by David Baldacci
  3. The Midnight Line by Lee Child
  4. Twisted Prey by John Sandford
  5. Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
  6. Look for Me by Lisa Gardner
  7. After Anna  by Lisa Scottoline
  8. Princess by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  9. The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
  10. Texas Ranger by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle

 

Fiction-Header

St. Thomas, you know what you like! The top of our Adult Fiction list is full of thrillers and mysteries, with a few heartfelt reads mixed in.

  1. The Wanted by Robert Crais
  2. The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan
  3. The Midnight Line by Lee Child
  4. Murder Games by James Patterson
  5. The Distance Home by Orly Konig

 

Nonfiction-Header

Your favourite non-fiction topics this year were true crime, cooking, and books about life!

  1. All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row by James Patterson & Alex Abramovich with Mike Harvkey
  2. Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking : Time-saving Paleo Recipes and Meal Plans to Improve your Health and Help You Lose Weight by Maria Emmerich
  3. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
  4. Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1959-1984 by Michael Arntfield
  5. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

 

graphic-novels.jpg

Your favourite graphic novels this year focused on a range of subjects, from a memoir about being a refugee from war-torn Vietnam (The Best We Could Do), to the Stranger Things-esque Paper Girls!

  1. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  2. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
  3. Paper Girls. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  4. Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast
  5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

 

kiosk

Our book vending kiosk at the Elgin Centre housed some of the most buzz-worthy books of the year! Check out your favourites below:

  1. Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
  2. The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
  3. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
  4. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
  5. The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
  6. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  7. Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou
  8. The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
  9. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

ST. THOMAS WATCHES: TOP 10

 

It’s no secret that St. Thomas LOVES movies! This year, three Oscar-winning or nominated movies made the Top 10 list! Action and adventure flicks dominated our most-checked out movies of 2018.

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 
  2. The Shape of Water 
  3. Justice League 
  4. Murder on the Orient Express 
  5. The Post 
  6. Unlocked
  7. Acts of Vengeance 
  8. Singularity 
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. The Foreigner 

Honorable Mentions: Brawl in a Cell Block, The Lost City of Z, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, 24 Hours to Live, Ladybird, Thor: Ragnarok, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Black Panther

 

TEENS READ: TOP 5

We saw some fan favourites in our top 5 young adult novels this year! The book that inspired Netflix’s film of the year, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, took the top spot! Lois Lowry’s classic, The Giver, as well as some great thrillers fill out the list, with John Green’s highly anticipated novel, Turtles All The Way Down, ending the list off strong.

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  3. Confessions: The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  4. The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda
  5. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

 

KIDS READ: PICTURE BOOKS TOP 5

Your top 5 favourite picture books of the year proved that some stories really are timeless! Robert Munsch took 4 out of 5 spots on our list, with romping, stomping kid-favourite How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? taking the other spot!

  1. Pyjama Day by Robert Munsch
  2. Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch
  3. How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? by Jane Yolen
  4. Murmel, Murmel, Murmel by Robert Munsch
  5. Playhouse by Robert Munsch

 

KIDS WATCH: TOP 10

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  2. The Boss Baby
  3. Paddington
  4. The Emoji Movie
  5. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. Zootopia
  8. Trolls
  9. Ferdinand
  10. Inside Out

 

KIDS LEARN: STEAM AND LITERACY KITS

 

This year’s most popular literacy kits were all about wildlife! Under the Sea, Rumble in the Jungle, and Dinosaurs were the most checked-out kits, with STEAM Kits about Construction and The Human Body following closely behind!


 

We hope you enjoyed this year-end wrap up! Let us know on our social media what you’ve read or watched on this list, or what you read and watched instead!

Introducing cloudLibrary!

social1

St. Thomas Public Library is excited to offer a brand new way to download eBooks and eAudiobooks to your smartphone, tablet, or eReader!

You’ve been able to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks through Overdrive and the Libby App for several years already, but now there is a second place to look for those books you can’t wait to read or listen to – cloudLibrary!

CloudLibrary works a lot like Overdrive – you can find popular eBooks and eAudiobooks by visiting the cloudLibrary website, or by downloading the App for iOS, or the App for Android .

IMG-1129

IMG_1138

 

 

Capture 4

Once you are on the cloudLibrary website, or have downloaded the App, you can browse our collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks, place holds, and borrow items!

All you need is a library card!

How do our two eBook and eAudiobook services compare?

cloudLibrary Overdrive & Libby App
Borrow items for 3 weeks Borrow items for 2 weeks
Place holds on up to 25 items at a time Place holds on up to 10 items at a time
Check out 10 items at a time Check out 10 items at a time

Here’s a testimonial from one of our staff members who has started using cloudLibrary:

“This is a new app that allows us to provide popular titles, many without holds. You heard me, very few holds! The platform is really similar to Libby with many features. You can tag books to read later, browse by category, and check out curated lists. You can also tag books that haven’t even been published yet! That’s right, cloudLibrary knows what you will be wanting to read in the new year!”

-Jess, Library Assistant

Have questions? Please reach out via email at info@stthomaspubliclibrary.ca

Looking for help using the cloudLibrary App or website? Visit our website: https://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/ebooks-and-eaudiobooks/

STPL Diverse Reads 2018

As we near the end of 2018, we are reflecting on a year of wonderful diverse books! We’ve put together a list of #stpldiversereads that features a number of debuts and one title published after the loss of a great Canadian author, Richard Wagamese, in 2017. Instead of the usual end of year reading lists, we’ve compiled ours according to topics and genres. We’ve also created a tagged list of these titles in our catalogue, just search #stpldiversereads!

Pride and Prejudice Reboots

PrideAyesha at last

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Both Pride and Ayesha at Last are inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Why read the classic when you can read a 2018 #ownvoices reboot? Like Austen, Zoboi and Jalaluddin both examine class and social structure in their novels. Unlike Austen, these reboots also highlight what it means to be Muslim (Ayesha at Last) and Haitian-Dominican (Pride). These re-tellings offer us a chance to read an updated version of Austen’s well-loved story that includes the diversity of our world.

Justice

American MarriageBeneath a ruthless sun

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Beneath a Ruthless Sun is non-fiction that reads like a novel and American Marriage is a fictional tale that seems entirely possible. Both books offer a nuanced approach to what it means to be black and facing criminal charges. Beneath a Ruthless Sun also explores what occurs when special needs adults are institutionalized without due process. Both Jones and King present problems from a variety of angles and offer the reader the chance to decide for themselves.

Past and Present

Map of salt and starsLast Watchman

A Map of Salt and Stars by Zeynab Joukhadar

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

Maps, scrolls, and adventure, oh my! On the surface, these two books could not be more different: one is about a family struggling to decide whether to stay in Syria or take their chances as refugees and the other is about a student who receives a mysterious package on his doorstep. These books are examples of how historical adventures can reveal the connections between past and present. Both books explore gender roles, faith, history, family, sexuality, and community. Whether they’re read together or separately, these are two books not to be missed.

Posthumous

Starlight

Starlight by Richard Wagamese

A year after Richard Wagamese died, his agents and publishers released his final book. Unlike other posthumous novels, Starlight remains unfinished. All we have is what Wagamese wrote and his intentions for the ending. Wagamese writes with a quiet passion about the healing possibilities of nature and the lingering effects of trauma. This is a beautiful book about haunting pasts and new beginnings.

Genre-Benders

Split Toothheart berries

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

This is a year of genre-bending debuts and both Split Tooth and Heart Berries fit the bill. Juno award-winning singer Tagaq writes about the far, and sometimes forgotten, north. Terese Marie Mailhot offers a very personal memoir in essay form. Both Mailhot and Tagaq take risks in their writing and offer readers books that push boundaries and boldly tackle difficult truths.

Sci/Fi and Fantasy

Children of bloodBlackfish City

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Children of Blood and Bone is an epic quest narrative that had a film deal before its publication. Blackfish City, not headed for the screen yet, involves some fascinating creatures in a futuristic society grappling with climate change. Adeyemi and Miller are both strong world-builders and readers can envision themselves in these fantastical spaces. Even though both are fictional and thousands of miles apart, the themes of resistance hit close to home.

Exploring Marriage

MarriageAmerican Panda

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu

American Panda by Gloria Chao

At first glance, these books may seem like an odd pair: one involves an arranged marriage of two people trying to hide their sexuality and the other is a young adult novel about trying to find your place in the world. Sindu and Chao’s books have more in common than they seem. Both examine what it means to live in a Western society with careers and dreams while managing familial expectations around arranged married. In both cases, characters have to navigate what happens when someone deviates from “the plan” or subverts traditional conventions.

Stories of Our Fathers

I've been meaning to tell youthe storm

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter by David Chariandy

The Storm by Arif Anwar

Storytelling takes pride of place in these books by David Chariandry and Arif Anwar. I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You features an emotional record of a father trying to raise his daughter in a complicated and divisive world. The Storm contains intersecting stories of a number of people preparing for catastrophes in their lives. In one of these stories, Shahryar is losing his visa status in the US and must make the most of his remaining weeks with his American-born daughter. Both books are compelling and revealing reads.

Looking for more diverse books? Check out our list by searching #stpldiversereads!