ALU Staff Summer Reads 2024

What books are at the top of our summer reading piles? Peek them below!


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Tan’s Pick

The Jellyfish

by Boum (Pow Pow Press)

The spring release I am most excited about this year is The Jellyfish by Boum. It depicts the story of Odette as she navigates the gradual loss of sight in one eye—something that comic artist Boum has had to deal with in real life. The jellyfish float through her vision, increasing in number, and eventually both Odette and the reader are overwhelmed by them. 

But she’s also navigating life in her 20s and falling in love. It looks like a beautiful and hopeful book, and it’s exactly what I want to be reading this summer. Intrigued? You can read an excerpt here.

Purchase The Jellyfish here, or via your local bookseller.

Mandy’s Pick

Blue Notes

by Anne Cathrine Bomann, translated by Caroline Waight (Book*hug Press)

Anne Cathrine Bomann debut novel Agatha, translated into English by Caroline Waight, made such an impression on me when I first read it four years ago. Her newest book in translation (by Waight) Blue Notes is a literary medical thriller about grief, Big Pharma, and societal norms. It’s got an existential, thought-provoking premise: a Danish university research group is finishing its study of the world’s first pill for grief, but a psychology professor suspects that someone has manipulated the results and recruits two students to help him investigate. A tender topic like grief is in skilled hands with Bomann who herself is a psychologist—this one’s surely going to be a touching and compelling read.

Purchase Blue Notes here, or via your local bookseller.

Lauren’s Pick

Fungal: Foraging in the Urban Forest

by Ariel Gordon (Wolsak & Wynn)

Maybe you got into sourdough bread during the pandemic, or puzzles, or growing your own green onions. Me? I got way too into mushrooms. I stove off existential dread and the feeling of being trapped in a tiny mid-rise apartment with endless videos of people going mushrooming. I bought a guidebook and pored over the illustrations. And even as restrictions eased, the interest in mushrooms did not. So of course, my summer pick is Ariel Gordon’s Fungal, which promises a bounty of fungi at my own urban doorstep, even without living in the Pacific Northwest (where a lot of those mushroom videos came from). Ariel’s meditative look at mushrooms, how they support our delicate ecosystems, and our duty to steward and forage them responsibly (and anything else we take from the earth) is just the north star I need for this summer’s hunts. (You can read a bit about Ariel’s perspective on foraging—and get some beautiful mushroom pics—here in her ALU essay.)

Purchase Fungal here, or via your local bookseller.

Barb’s Pick

The Winter Knight

by Jes Battis (ECW Press)

I’ve had The Winter Knight on my TBR pile for months, and am packing it up for a cottage visit as I type. An urban fairy tale (and detective story), based on Arthurian myth, this book is set in present day Vancouver. I adore retellings of ancient myths in modern times—the more inclusive the better.

“Arthurian legends are reborn in this upbeat queer urban fantasy with a mystery at its heart. The knights of the round table are alive in Vancouver, but when one winds up dead, it’s clear the familiar stories have taken a left turn.”

Purchase The Winter Knight here, or via your local bookseller.

Laura’s Pick

The Uncaged Voice: Stories from Writers in Exile

edited by Keith Ross Leckie (Cormorant Books)

This anthology gathers essays and stories from 15 writers about censorship and repression in their homelands, and their hopes for a future in Canada. Globally, there are now more than 100 million displaced persons, forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict or persecution. A terrible record high. Reading voices that have frequently been silenced—these and other testimonies from around the world—has never been more important.

Purchase The Uncaged Voice here, or via your local bookseller.