Summer 2023: ALU Staff Picks

Which books will grace the various blankets (picnic, beach, throw, etc) of ALU staffers this summer? Our team shares the books at the top of their summer TBR piles.


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Barb’s Pick

I Know You by Russell Govan (Guernica Editions)

I’m looking for my perfect dock read this summer, and I think I Know You by Russell Govan will do the trick. This is the story of Eilidh (pronounced AY-LEE), and begins a little bit Sally Rooney Conversations With Friends, and then morphs into Time-Traveller’s Wife on speed. Anything time-travel is my catnip, and this book has it in spades. Eilidh gets into her dream school, but when she finds out her dream man only pretended to apply, things escalate into violence. Eilidh gets knocked out, and wakes up in 1984. Over the following 48-hour period Eilidh finds herself transported to various locations in Europe and North America, and time periods from the previous fifty years. Each episode draws her further into an unexpected and unconventional romance. I Know You sounds like a wild ride!

Happy Summer Reading, All Lit Uppers!

Laura’s Pick

The Book of Grief and Hamburgers by Stuart Ross (ECW Press)

More and more, I’m drawn to hybrid forms. Stuart Ross’s The Book of Grief and Hamburgers combines essay, memoir, and poetic meditation, examining how we process and live with loss. Living as an act of resistance, with insight and humour, and a Trillium Book Award, to boot. Bring it.

Lauren’s Pick

If It Gets Quiet Later On, I Will Make a Display by Nick Thran (Nightwood Editions)

Award-winning poet Nick Thran’s If It Gets Quiet Later On, I Will Make a Display, a slim, meditative volume about working in bookstores, is like a perfect combination of everything that grabs me about a book. Is it a little inside-baseball about the book world? Yes. Is it hard to define, straddling poetry, essay, and fiction? Yes. Will it make me fall in love with independent bookstores repeatedly? Almost certainly. Will I read it on the porch, over the course of a perfect, rainy summer afternoon? Most definitely.

Mandy’s Pick

And the Walls Came Down by Denise Da Costa (Dundurn Press)

I’m signing up for a nostalgic ’90s summer in Toronto with And the Walls Came Down from Dundurn Press. Denise Da Costa’s debut novel sees a young woman returning to her childhood home in a low-income east Toronto neighbourhood before it’s demolished. Slipping into her old diary, she rediscovers former friendships, first love, teenage anxieties, and family dynamics through the lens of adulthood where distance tells a different story. More broadly, it promises to be a story about coming of age, community, and finding one’s voice amidst a childhood of poverty and doubt. I have a feeling this one’s going to be all that and a bag of chips!

Tahmina’s Pick

Cold Snap by Maureen Jennings (Cormorant Books)

Although we are finally in the summer months, the cover of Cold Snap makes me think of hot chocolate and curling up on the couch by the fireplace. This cozy historical mystery with a female lead is set in Toronto and is captivating in many ways, with relevant local references and two intertwined mysteries. As a huge mystery reader, I love how Cold Snap brings an interesting twist with a historical element into this genre.

Tan’s Pick

Full Fadom Five by David C.C. Bourgeois (Baraka Books)

Full Fadom Five has the perfect mix of mystery, history and literature for me, and I can’t wait to dig into it this summer. When long lost evidence of Shakespeare’s life is uncovered in a Halifax basement, an eccentric bibliophile hires Noah and Cecelia to investigate. Like players in a Shakespearian romance, the more Noah and Cecelia delve into the playwright’s life, the more they are drawn into each other’s. Despite their growing feelings for one another, their divided loyalties leave them increasingly at odds, and vulnerable to the manipulations of their employer.

“Here is a mystery worthy of Shakespeare himself. … Full Fadom Five, charts a course that carries the reader from the shore to the city, and back across the centuries.” –Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting

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What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Let us know on social @alllitupcanada.