We Asked: Where's Your Favourite Place to Summer Read?

July 30, 2018

We polled authors, publishers, and ALU staffers alike to see where their favourite summer reading spots are – read on to find out.

Photo by Flickr user Rick Harris.
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My favourite summer reading spot is a family cottage on the Rideau Lakes system in Ontario. It has a couch that has been in place since time immemorial, an overload of memories, and spotty internet service. For years, it was the only place I would read novels, usually a small pile over the course of a long weekend picked up at the used bookstore in Smiths Falls on the drive in, already beat-up reading copies able to sustain more minor water damage from being carted down to and up from the lake.


CAMERON ANSTEE, author of  Book of Annotations (Invisible Publishing) and editor of  The Collected Poems of William Hawkins (Chaudiere Press).






Reading outdoors during Newfoundland summers can be a test of foolhardiness, with winds that kick up to 100KMH, and fog that will obscure the hot sun above. That said, I love to sit on a rock on The Rock, reading above the at-times very wild sea. To smell saltwater as it washes the land, while reading someone of eloquence is my idea of heaven.


BETH FOLLETT, publisher of Pedlar Press and author of  Tell it Slant (Coach House Books). 






I don't think people outside Calgary appreciate just how much effort the city puts into its public spaces. Actually, I'm not sure people in Calgary always appreciate it either, but downtown is riddled with parks, art and other attractions. Olympic Plaza is in the heart of the city, originally built for medal ceremonies during the '88 Winter Games. During the summer months it's filled with people, sunshine, splashing kids, good food and more than a few perfect shaded spots. It's also kitty-corner from the public library, so it can't be beat for convenience. There's no better spot to enjoy a book.


TYLER HELLARD, author of the forthcoming  Searching for Terry Punchout (Invisible Publishing).

Photo by Udo Röbenack.






I do all of my summer reading on the subway. This may strike some as a lackluster setting, but they lack imagination. Those of us without cottages, backyards, or time off to lounge in parks must feed our senses elsewhere. There is no natural setting that can match humanity at crush capacity on a hot summer day. Reading a book in those circumstances is a competitive sport, and is equally rewarding. Indeed, nothing drives one’s eyes back to one’s book as quickly as the views from the TTC. Attached, early Spring on the Vaughan line.


H.B. HOGAN, author of the forthcoming  This Keeps Happening (Invisible Publishing).






Carefully designed to be a quiet hideout from the world, my suburban patio is the perfect place to write in spite of its flaws. We’ve lived in the same house for 19 years, and I’ve sat in the same teak chair every summer. The vine on the trellis we built that first year thrives (and attracts insects). I sit in my chair and I’m hidden, invisible. Imagine a cup of tea, birdsong, a notebook, a fountain pen, and a few books. Nice, right? What the photograph doesn’t reveal is the endless drone of the nearby highway which I’ve nearly learned to tune out.


SHAWNA LEMAY, author of  The Flower Can Always Be Changing (Palimpsest Press) and "The Sponge-Cake Model of Friendship" on All Lit Up.






On weekends in the summer, my dog wakes with the sun, while my partner prefers to sleep in. It's the perfect time for me to grab a book and head to my local Starbucks patio. My dog gets to meet all the locals who stop in, but we're often the only ones to stick around in the early-morning sunshine. 


TAN LIGHT, LPG Sales Manager and ALU Chappy Hour mixologist.






Eric Dupont’s La Fiancée américaine was published in translation by QC Fiction this July, but spare a thought for the translator! It’s a long book and the places where I translated it (as Songs for the Cold of Heart) quickly began to add up. From on a bench at a train station in Germany to cafés closer to home, this was my favourite place of all: a return to Trinity Hall at Cambridge University for a couple of weeks spent finishing it off, far away from my children!


PETER McCAMBRIDGE, translator and fiction editor, QC Fiction (an imprint of Baraka Books).






Il y a chez moi une pièce remplie de livres de toutes sortes : Hemingway est là, Vonnegut s’y trouve aussi. Il y a une photo de mon vieux père à côté d’un cliché de Roosevelt à la chasse à l’éléphant. Il y a des bibles en latin, des ouvrages sur le jardinage, des machines à écrire qui ne fonctionnent plus. C’est dans cette pièce où tout se produit. C’est l’endroit où j’arrive à me concentrer le plus aisément, qu’il s’agisse de lire ou d’écrire. C’est un
lieu simple, convivial, sans prétention. C’est le système nerveux de ma vieille maison de bois, qui craque comme un navire. C’est mon lieu de travail.

In my home, there’s a room filled with books of all kinds. Hemingway is in there, Vonnegut too. There’s a photo of my old father beside a picture of Roosevelt elephant hunting. There are Latin bibles, books on gardening, typewriters that no longer work. This room is where everything happens. It’s the place where I manage to concentrate best, whether that means reading or writing. It’s simple and cozy, unpretentious. It’s the nervous system of my old wooden house that creaks like a ship. It’s where I work.


CHARLES QUIMPER, author of In Every Wave, translated by Guil Lefebvre (forthcoming from QC Fiction/Baraka Books)






Winter transit commuting to Edmonton's University of Alberta is 45 minutes of statically charged coats, salt-stained backpacks, and humans frozen into a mass exactly the size and shape of bus #203. In the summertime, #203 is less like a lifeboat on the Titanic and more like a quiet, empty rolling reading room. Sprawled on a seat under an open window, I'm reading a side-by-side English-Chinese short story collection. I have a lot to learn about translation, but even I know “she smelled the breath of the river,” like many things, would work better if it was left alone.


JENNIFER QUIST, author most recently of  The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner (Linda Leith Publishing).






I’m taking advantage of the dryish season in Vancouver while it lasts and have dedicated Sunday mornings to reading in bed while basking in the sun from the east-facing window. I’ve been inspired by Dame Vivienne Westwood’s
declaration in Get A Life! The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood, that every Saturday will be her “day of rest and glory! Reading for pleasure in bed.” For me, this inevitably involves a smoothie or a mug of hot chocolate and somehow feels simultaneously essential and luxurious.


SUSANNAH M. SMITH, author of  The Fairy Tale Museum (Invisible Publishing) and  How the Blessed Live (Coach House Books).






Cet été, entre l’achat de ma première maison, le déménagement et un voyage en Italie pour visiter la famille, j’espère trouver le temps de lire sur ma nouvelle (et immense) terrasse! Elle est entourée d’arbres et de pierres, on entend le vent danser à travers les branches et les oiseaux qui piaillent. En fin d’après-midi, le soleil la baigne tout entière de cette lumière cuivrée qui inspire la liberté. Elle est vide pour l’instant, mais voilà, l’absence signifie que tout est encore possible. Il ne tient qu’à nous d’en faire ce que nous voulons.

This summer, in between buying my first home, the move, and a trip to Italy to visit family, I hope to find the time to do some reading on my new (and huge) patio! It’s surrounded by trees and rocks, you can hear the wind dancing through the branches and the birds cheeping. By late afternoon, the sun has bathed it all in the coppery light that inspires freedom. It’s empty for the moment, but this emptiness means that anything is still possible. It’s up to us to do with it what we please.


MELISSA VÉRREAULT, author of Behind the Eyes We Meet, translated by Arielle Aaronson (QC Fiction/Baraka Books)


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Thanks so much to all of our participating summer readers for sharing their spots (and photos) with us. 


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