Still looking for that perfect beach read? Maybe an alternative beach read is what you’re looking for! We’ve got you covered for the rest of this summer season.
Big Shadow by Marta Balcewicz
In an unnamed town in the summer of 1998, Judy is an isolated and inexperienced teenager on the cusp of adulthood struggling to craft an identity for herself—especially as the artist she wants to be. An affecting novel of psychological nuance and dark humour, Big Shadow explores the costs of self-deceit, fandom, and tenuous ambitions, exposing the lies we’ll tell ourselves and the promises we’ll make to edge closer to what we want… or what we think we want.
Places Like These by Lauren Carter
A widow visits a spiritualist community to attempt to contact her late husband. A grieving teenager confronts the unfairness of his small-town world and the oncoming ecological disaster. A sexual assault survivor navigates her boyfriend’s tricky family and her own confusing desires. A mother examines unresolved guilt while seeking her missing daughter in a city slum. A lover exploits his girlfriend’s secrets for his own purposes. Whether in Ecuador or San Francisco, rural Ontario or northern Manitoba, the landscape in each of Carter’s poignant short stories reflects each character’s journey.
Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty by Hana Shafi
Let’s get one thing straight: Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World is not a book of advice. You’re not going to find a step-by-step guide to meditation here, or even reminders to drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Those things are all good for you, but that’s not what Hana Shafi wants to talk about. Instead, Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty—built around art from Shafi’s popular online affirmation series—focuses on our common and never-ending journey of self-discovery. It explores the ways in which the world can all too often wear us down, and reminds us to remember our worth, even when it’s hard to do so.
A Convergence of Solitudes by Anita Anand
A story of identity, connection, and forgiveness, A Convergence of Solitudes presents the lives of two families across the Partition of India, Vietnam’s Operation Babylift, and two Quebec referendums. Teenage lovers Sunil and Hima defy taboos to come together as India divides in two. They traverse the world to Montreal and raise a family, but Sunil shows symptoms of schizophrenia, shattering their new-found peace. As a teenager, their daughter Rani becomes obsessed with Québécois supergroup Sensibilité —and the band’s charismatic, nationalistic frontman, Serge—connecting her to the province’s struggle for cultural freedom.
The Loneliness in Lydia Erneman’s Life by Rune Christiansen, translated by Kari Dickson
Winner of the Brage Prize, the most prestigious award in Norwegian Literature, The Loneliness in Lydia Erneman’s Life is a quiet, beautiful exploration of solitude and how we relate to other beings. It has been lauded by European critics for doing something very rare: offering deep pleasure and joy in reading with little theatrics. Written in concise prose, the gravity and tranquility of this novel make it a gift—a soothing, contemplative offering about the depths of our inner worlds.
Document 1 by François Blais, translated by JC Sutcliffe
Tess and Jude live in small-town Quebec and spend their time travelling all across North America—using Google maps—which provides them the luxury of adventure while remaining in the comfort of their own home. But Tess and Jude are dreamers, and their online adventures eventually give rise to a desire to actually travel somewhere. They settle on Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania, and begin scheming to raise the cash they’ll need for the trip.
Cyclettes by Tree Abraham
Part travelogue, part philosophical musing, Tree Abraham’s work probes the millennial experience, asking what a young life can be when unshackled from traditional role expectations yet still living in consistent economic and environmental uncertainty. Text is interspersed between drawings, scientific charts, ephemera, maps, arcane designs, and diagrams of cycles—of vehicles and of life, from the Buddhist Eightfold path to patterns of depression, desire, and motion. The result is a disarming, welcoming work that asks us to consider what the interflux of exploration and ennui mean to our locality within the universe.
archipelago by Laila Malik
Malik’s lyrical poems intertwine histories of exile and ecological devastation. Beginning with a coming of age in the 80s and 90s between Canada, the Arabian Gulf, East Africa and Kashmir, they subvert conventions of lineage, instead drawing on the truths of inter-ethnic histories amidst sparse landscapes of deserts, oceans, and mountains. They question why the only certainties of “home” are urgency and impossibility.
Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Grace Porter is reeling from grief after her partner of seven years unexpectedly leaves. Amidst her heartache, the thirty-year-old library tech is tasked with reading newly discovered letters that Amelia Earhart wrote to her lover, Gene Vidal. She becomes captivated by the famous pilot who disappeared in 1937. Letter by letter, Grace understands more about Amelia while piecing her own life back together. Underscoring the power of reading and writing letters for self-discovery, Letters to Amelia is, above all, a story of the essential need for connection—and our universal ability to find hope in the face of fear.
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale
In dialogue with writers like Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Susan Sontag, and Osip Mandelstam, In Memory of Memory is imbued with rare intellectual curiosity and a wonderfully soft-spoken, poetic voice. Dipping into various forms—essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue, and historical documents—Maria Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities, offering an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.