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Friday, 29 May 2015

Summer 2015 Reads: Alyssa's picks

As much as I love curling up with a book and a sweater mid-winter, there's something amazing about heading outside, enjoying the summer sun, and diving straight into a good story. Here's what I'll be reading!

Books I read and loved

SuperMutant Magic Academy (Jillian Tamaki)
If sitting in a park, reading and laughing out loud is your idea of a good time, your first choice should absolutely be SuperMutant Magic Academy. The devastatingly funny collected webcomic tells of Marsha the witch, Wendy the fox girl, and the other students of the academy, who simultaneously must navigate the extraordinariness of broomstick sports and magic classes, and the mundanity of bake sales, prom, and unrequited love.

Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)
Beautifully crafted and heartbreakingly intimate despite it's larger than life subject matter, Station Eleven is the story of the Georgian flu, a plague that wipes out most of humanity. But beyond this cataclysmic event, Mandel weaves together the lives of characters navigating Toronto and Los Angeles before the tragedy, those facing the dangers of the small towns left in dystopian chaos, and the mysterious comic book that bridges the two worlds.

We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
A Beyoncé-sampled speech adapted into a portable, beach-ready essay? What more can you ask for? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (of Half a Yellow Sun and Americanah fame) has crafted a manifesto of sorts, and it is important, accessible, and a necessary read.

The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis (Darryl Cunningham)
Anyone who's ever wished for an simple, incisive, and concise explanation of the global financial crisis will appreciate Cunningham's newest work. The graphic novel first details the controversial Ayn Rand, her life, and Objectivism, before explaining how deregulation and Rand's philosophy contributed to the 2008 crash.

Close to Hugh (Marina Endicott)
Close to Hugh tells the story of gallery owner Hugh Argylle who, after falling down a ladder and struggling to keep himself together, must still contend with the friends and family who remain wrapped up in their own unhappiness. Over a week in September, a sprawling cast of artists, actors, and budding talent grapple with heartbreaks, separations, financial woes, and growing up in this decidedly Robertson Davies-esque novel.

Books I can't wait to read

The Argonauts (Maggie Nelson)
A compelling combination of theory and memoir, The Argonauts is a study in identity, desire, love, queerness, and family. The book travels from Nelson falling in love with fluidly gendered artist Harry Dodge to her subsequent pregnancy, offering fresh insight into the oft-trodden topics of marriage and childrearing.

Breathing Lessons (Andy Sinclair)
Henry Moss is an everyman who hasn't had to suffer. His mother was supportive when he came out, he has fulfilling work, and is valued by friends and family. But in Sinclair's debut novel, that may not be enough, and Henry finds himself lonely and in search of intimacy that has long eluded him.

Our Ice is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq (Shelley Wright)
Part exploration of Inuit history and culture, part treatise on climate change and the legacies of exploration, Our Ice is Vanishing combines scientific and legal information with individual experiences to craft a history of Canadian presence in the Arctic, and what it means for the people who make their home on the ice.

Bonus! Books I'll be revisiting

My Family and Other Animals (Gerald Durrell)
As a young boy, Durrell went to live with his eccentric English family on the Greek island of Corfu, and this memoir, perfect for warm afternoons outside, combines his budding interest in the natural world with domestic hijinks that I never grow tired of.

The Girl on the Fridge (Etgar Keret)
Etgar Keret writes weird stories, and I love them every time I read them. Whether it's the magician whose act turns horrifying, or the titular girl who grows up atop a household appliance, the forty-six stories in this collection are unsettling, funny, and very terrifying.

Feeling Sorry for Celia (Jaclyn Moriarty)
Teenaged Celia never asked to deal with missing best friends, flakey parents, penpals, or secret admirers, but that's the lot she's drawn. I fell in love with this YA book written exclusively in letters, post-it notes, and missives sent from fictional organizations (along the lines of "The Organization of Cool Teenagers Who Think You Are Not Cool") many years ago, and I can't wait to pick it up again.

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