I’ve made it my mission to read as much local as possible for the last twelve months or so, and let me tell you: Alberta has a helluvalotta talent. Like, it’s kind of crazy. Something in the water, or just the cold keeping us in, forcing the cultivation of greatness?
Whatever the case, here are a few books you must read immediately. These books are each so fantastic in their own ways, their stories capturing the universal human condition in many ways, but also making nods to the unique Canadian or Albertan condition. Another super cool thing: the authors live close enough that having your book signed and owning a piece of our literary history is totally feasible (bonus points if you bought from Audreys or another independent bookstore!).
Albertan Must Reads For Spring Break 2015
Body Trade, by Margaret Macpherson
Read this for its gripping suspense or to
imagine feel the Mexican sun on your face. Not for the faint of heart. (You should also read her previous novel, Released!).
Loddy-Dah, by Dolly Dennis
Set in the Quebec of the 1960’s, this book is super groovy, fun, and a Canadian history lesson. The story’s rightful been called “The Forest Gump” of Canlit.
Dennis’s next book is centred around the Tornado that devastated Edmonton in ’87 – don’t miss it.
The Unfinished Child, by Theresa Shea
A Canadian best seller set in Edmonton, this book examines how children born with special needs are perceived by our society. Ready to tackle tough decisions, examine female friendship, and unravel the choices of motherhood? Grab the kleenex and get comfortable, you won’t be able to put this one down.
Every Blade of Grass, by Thomas Wharton
Disclaimer: I am only part way through this one (it’s my current read), but am so enjoying the (love?) letters between two people on either ends of the Earth. I met Thomas this week at the Mill Wood’s Artist’s Collective Glass Door Reading Series and toppled headfirst into the story during the readings he performed, so I know that the book tells an engaging tale of the origins of speech (in which coyote muddled up the creator’s plans), and an a heartbreaking scene of loss and how the loss of one’s child forces reexamination of all other relationships.
The Shore Girl, by Fran Kimmel
Winner of The Alberta People’s Choice Award, The Shore Girl is a breezy read with a mystery at the heart of its narrative, and a big heart at that. This is a book you won’t want to put down, but an easy enough read to take to the park while watching the kids, or enjoy on a patio whilst sipping a brew.
Come Back, by Rudy Wiebe
A legend in the Canadian Literary scene, Mr. Wiebe’s Come Back is not an easy read but an important one. Feeling thoughtful and ready to expand your perspective? Follow this story of a man unpacking the events of his son’s suicide to understand.
Rosina the Midwife, by Jessica Kluthe
A fan of Ami McKay’s The Birth House, or Shea’s The Unfinished Child? Then you’ll love this creative non-fiction exploring the life of Kluthe’s great-great-grandmother, Rosina, and her family’s exodus from Italy to Edmonton. The imagery and language in this book is gorgeous; an excellent choice for those who love lyricism in their words.
The Book of Mary, by Gail Sidonie-Sobat
A feminist retelling of the Christ story, staring the mother of God? Yes Please.
The Garneau Block, by Todd Babiak
Neighbours fighting to save their homes while bickering oil, hockey, politics, and mythical buffalo heads in Edmonton? It doesn’t get more Albertan that this.
The Antagonist, by Lynn Cody
A man’s life goes sideways and a once-friend profits from the story. Are others’ recounts of our lives really about us, or is it a matter of perspective? Read also Cody’s Giller Prize winning short story collection, Hellgoing.
Boundary Problems, By Greg Bechtel
A collection of stories (some linked) infused with sex, paranoia, conspiracy, mystery, and a strange relationship with physics. Seeking the cerebral? Bechtel will blow your mind.
What do you think? Read ’em? Reading ’em? Did I miss a great? Leave a comment – I love talking lit!