What is the ALU Team Reading for the Holidays?

In Iceland, they observe a tradition on Christmas Eve called the Jólabókaflóðið, where everyone receives a new book, and then reads it in silence. What more can we say: we love it, let’s do it! Here are the books our staffers will be reading in our quiet downtime this holiday season.

A graphic reading "What We're Reading for the Holidays" with an ornate illustration of an ornament in the background.


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The cover of Toronto, I Love You by Didier LeClair.

N’kysha’s Pick

Toronto, I Love You

by Didier LeClair, translated by Elaine Kennedy (Mawenzi House)

“There’s something about the nearing holidays that motivates me to reflect on the past year and the sights I’ve seen. As a lover of Canadian cities, and with fond memories of recent trips to Toronto, Toronto, I Love You is the perfect outlet for calling to mind the towering bustling city and the places, people, and opportunities within. Seen through the eyes of the main character, an immigrant named Raymond, the novel appears to generate a dialogue about all sides of Toronto, highlighting both wealth and poverty, while bringing in the experiences of a mosaic of individuals.

It’s sure to be an illuminating read!”

The cover of Why I'm Here by Jill Frayne.

Mandy’s Pick

Why I’m Here

by Jill Frayne (NeWest Press)

“Fully giving in to all things winter this year, Why I’m Here first caught my eye with its serene, snow-laden cover. I’m looking forward to digging into this novel about family, safe places, and the search for home. Jill Frayne’s debut promises to immerse readers into the clear, fresh northern landscape of Whitehorse, and to satisfy with a revelatory ending. I’ll be reading this one under a cozy blanket!”

Laura’s Pick

We Meant Well

by Erum Shazia Hasan (ECW Press)

We Meant Well, by Erum Shazia Hasan, a novel about an international aid worker navigating personal and professional conflicts as she finds herself caught between two realities, was longlisted for the Giller this year. It’s been on my TBR pile for a few months, and I can’t wait to have some peace and quiet over the holidays (one can hope!) to read it. So many people are raving about this book online, so I’m excited to experience it for myself.”

Barb’s Pick

Privacy is a Foreign Word in Supino

by Maria Coletta McLean (Inanna Publications)

“This holiday season I am looking forward to settling in with Privacy Is a Foreign Word in Supino, by Maria Coletta McLean. I have pre-purchased my panettone, and am ready to hunker down and travel to Italy via this novel. Privacy Is a Foreign Word in Supino is Maria’s first foray into fiction, so I am really excited to read it. If you’ve read either of her memoirs you’ll know that she brings Supino to life with ease and beauty.”

Tan’s Pick


by Shola Von Reinhold (Metonymy Press)

“Earlier this year, while the ALU Crew were at Word on the Street in Toronto, a reader came up to our table and simply raved about LOTE to us. That interaction has stayed with me all year! So, this holiday season I am finally going to dip into this thick tale of an imagined queer, historical art scene. It won both the James Tait Black Prize and The Republic of Consciousness Prize in 2021, which backs up the reader’s praise with critical acclaim.”

Lauren’s Pick


by Beth Follett (Breakwater Books)

“As I take stock of the things I’m thankful for heading into the holiday season, I’m grateful that the former founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, Beth Follett, continues to be in our literary lives through her writing. Her novel Instructor has all of the ingredients I like: multiple timelines, explorations of tricky and unpredictable human emotions like grief, an unlikely collection of people at very different places in their lives. I’m also grateful, of course, for the time over the holidays to tune out the world and engage with this special book.”