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Recommended Reading


2024 Summer Reading

2024 Summer Reading

This summer Vincent Anioke and Shashi Bhat are reading each other's new books, Denise Chong is tackling Moby Dick despite friendly warnings, and Domenica Martinello has the perfect fiction pick for sweaty summer nights when the sky is a weird colour.

Our list of essential summer reads was handpicked by Canadian authors who have recently published new works. You’ll find lighthearted books that make for perfectly easy beach reading as well as titles that encourage deeper reflection, and everything in between.

Vincent Anioke

Vincent Anioke’s Perfect Little Angels was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in April 2024. 


I loved Téa Mutonji's Shut Up You're Pretty for its electrifying, heartbreaking, interlinked narratives. Next up: Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh, released just this month in North America, is utterly worthwhile for the rich, complex characters navigating a world hostile to their very being. Don’t forget Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee, luminous, deeply empathetic, and easily one of my favorite novels of all time. Lastly, a treasure trove of thought-provoking CanLit short story collections: Chrysalis by Anuja Varghese, Death by a Thousand Cuts by Shashi Bhat, Last Woman by Carleigh Baker, and Avalanche by Jessica Westhead.

Emily Austin

Emily Austin’s Interesting Facts about Space was published by Atria Books in January 2024.


I’m currently reading (and loving) Zoe Whittall’s collection of short stories Wild Failure. I can’t recommend What Remains of Elsie Jane by Chelsea Wakelyn enough. It’s so good; it’s a unique, funny, and moving story about love and grief. Never Been Better by Leanne Toshiko Simpson is hilarious, refreshing, and insightful. Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen is an uplifting, heartwarming, and poignant story about family, identity, and community.

Shashi Bhat

Shashi Bhat’s Death by a Thousand Cuts was published by McClelland & Stewart in April 2024.


For me, this is the summer of the short story. I’m currently reading Deepa Rajagopalan’s Peacocks of Instagram — it’s funny, sparkling, succinct, and emotionally ruthless. And Alice Munro doesn’t need a recommendation from me, but I just re-read Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage and Runaway, and…wow. Every time I read an Alice Munro story I feel like writing (and also like never writing again). On my list for later this summer are Vincent Anioke’s Perfect Little Angels, Danila Botha’s Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness, and Jen Currin’s Disembark. Maybe by the fall I’ll have graduated to reading novels (just kidding — I’ll be reading poetry).

Jamie Chai Yun Liew

Jamie Chai Yun Liew’s Ghost Citizens: Decolonial Apparitions of Stateless, Foreign and Wayward Figures in Law was published by Fernwood Publishing in February 2024.


A lot of us are going to be tourists this summer, and a perfect book to read while reflecting on your position as tourist in a new and unfamiliar place is Jasmine Sealy’s The Island of Forgetting, a family saga that takes place at a beachfront hotel. 

Three books I am excited to dive into this summer: First, Kagiso Lesego Molope’s Such a Lonely, Lovely Road is a love story about two young men in South Africa and how this relationship endures societal pressures. I have admired Kagiso’s brave voice for some time and I am sure this will not disappoint. I also am excited to read Salt Houses by Hala Alyan, a story that follows three generations of a Palestinian family as they scatter across the globe. Recommended to me by several friends, I love diasporic stories of communities that have been made stateless, a bit of a personal obsession. I love horror or dark stories so a summer of reading would not be complete without Alicia Elliott’s And Then She Fell

A nonfiction book I highly recommend is Rashid Khalidi’s The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance, 1917-2017. Written by a Columbia University history professor, it is accessible and heartbreaking but also so important to read in these current times. 

Finally, what is summer without a good romance novel? I am a huge fan of Uzma Jalaluddin and cannot wait to read her latest, Much Ado About Nada

Denise Chong

Denise Chong’s Out of Darkness: Rumana Monzur's Journey through Betrayal, Tyranny and Abuse was published by Random House Canada in April 2024. 


My summer reading will start with Nadine Sander-Green’s debut novel Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit, a woman’s coming-of-age story set against the starkness and isolation of Yukon. A decade ago I mentored Nadine at the Sage Hill Writing Experience retreat. The memoir piece she was at work on then captured how childhood pivots between abandon and reticence; ever since, I’ve anticipated her first published work.  

Every summer I read a classic of fiction and this summer it will be Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Though some have warned me of Melville’s seeming digressions, I’ll approach them as defying the strictures of genre.  

As for nonfiction, Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast by John Vaillant about the Fort McMurray fire seems a fitting read given climate change and the higher-than-normal temperatures expected this summer.  

And I’ll recommend a book I just finished: The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea. Published in 2004, it’s a compelling and heartbreaking story of twenty-six Mexican migrants who, led by smugglers, attempt to enter the United States by crossing a deadly stretch of the Arizona desert. After identifying with the impact of immigration and border policy on such an intimate level, to speak of “illegal immigration” feels utterly dehumanizing. 

Christina Cooke

Christina Cooke’s Broughtupsy was published by House of Anansi Press in January 2024.


I recently met Emily R. Austin when we appeared together at the Ottawa International Writers Festival and within minutes of shaking her hand, I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman is weird” — which is a surefire way to get me interested in someone’s work. I’ve spent the weeks since deep in the rich world Austin created in her novel Interesting Facts About Space which I'm reading alongside Sydney’s Hegele’s Bird Suit — another strange book about the surprising realities of what it means to be alive.  

Another recent fave of mine? Ayana Mathis’ The Unsettled — an engrossing yet meditative look at the dark costs of American prosperity. It seems prudent to be aware of our southern neighbours’ lower predilections even as we revel in their malls and amusement parks in the fun-filled months of summer.  

For me, the change in seasons signals a shift in where I read (outside, versus on the couch) and with what beverage (wine or hard seltzer in lieu of my usual tea), but the insistence on engaging with extravagantly-rendered though harrowing truths soldiers on.  

Gregor Craigie

Gregor Craigie’s Our Crumbling Foundation: How We Solve Canada's Housing Crisis was published by Random House Canada in March 2024.


With memories of recent wildfires and heat domes still fresh in my mind, I picked up two new nonfiction books with an equal mix of anxiety and fascination. Lytton: Climate Change, Colonialism and Life Before the Fire by Peter Edwards and Kevin Loring is both a sobering history and terrifying glimpse into the future.  

The Last Logging Show: A Forestry Family at the End of an Era by Aaron Williams is a wonderfully detailed description of making a living from logging, and a meditation on the uneasy tension so many Canadians feel between preservation and resource extraction. Both books are excellent and written by great writers with deep connections to their subjects. 

Kate Hilton

Kate Hilton and Elizabeth Renzetti’s Bury the Lead: A Quill & Packet Mystery was published by House of Anansi Press in March 2024.  


I read a lot of crime fiction, both because I love it and because I like to see what others in the field are up to. Here are a few fantastic mysteries that I’ve read recently, plus a brief tour of the crime-related TBR pile on my bedside table. 

Recent Literary Loves 

  • Attica Locke’s Highway 59 series (Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven, My Home)  
  • Tana French, The Hunter  
  • Rebecca Makkai, I Have Some Questions for You 
  • Shari Lapena, An Unwanted Guest 

On the Bedside Table 

  • Sarah Weinman, ed., Evidence of Things Seen: True Crime in an Era of Reckoning 
  • Roz Nay, The Offing 
  • Catherine Mack, Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies 
  • Anthony Horowitz, Close to Death 

Domenica Martinello

Domenica Martinello’s Good Want was published by Coach House Books in May 2024. 


Mood Swings by Frankie Barnet: For sweaty summer nights when the sky is a weird colour and everything is oversaturated and hilarious and doomed. (Fiction) 

Big Mall by Kate Black: To me, especially when growing up, the mall screamed summer more than the pool or beach, so I’ve been saving this one. Sidenote: There is no better place to read than the mall food court. (Nonfiction) 

The Seventh Town of Ghosts by Faith Arkorful: Poems like touching hot pavement. (Poetry) 

All Fours by Miranda July: My version of a summer blockbuster. (Fiction) 

A Horse at the Window by Spencer Gordon: A writer who pulls off an incredible range of forms and registers, I’m sure this book has something for every internal weather forecast. (Short stories/cross-genre) 

Shawn Micallef

An updated edition of Shawn Micallef’s Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto was published by Coach House Books in May 2024.


I was lucky to be on the English-language jury for the Trillium Book Award this year, so I got to read a lot of new books from Ontario. Though we had to pick one winner (The Clarion by Nina Dunic), here’s a selection from my much longer shortlist of new, great books. 

River Mumma, by Zalika Reid-Benta is a wonderful supernatural tale set in Toronto’s ravines and neighbourhoods. Somebody should turn this tale into a summer blockbuster film. 

Daniel A. Lockhart’s North of Middle Island explores Pelee Island, Lake Erie, and Canada’s most southern border zone. The Indigenous presence has often been erased here, but not in Lockhart’s verse. There are glimpses of the lives of people who live here, with classic rock snippets, forays into local history and lore, and even professional wrestling. 

Wait Softly Brother by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer digs into the complications of family life and going home as an adult to revisit one’s own self and past, imagined or not. 

In a Land without Dogs the Cats Learn to Bark by Jonathan Garfinkel is a fun and modern spy thriller that brings readers back into the thick of the cold war. 

Daddy Lessons by Steacy Easton is a startling and honest queer memoir that also explores the sometimes-hidden geography of Canadian cities, towns, and even the rodeo circuit. 

Yara by Tamara Faith Berger is a rather sexy coming-of-age tale that touches on international politics and the often brutality of love, all set in the recent twenty-year-old past serving as a mirror of sorts for today. 

I have never read anything like Sleep is Now a Foreign Country: Encounters with the Uncanny by Mike Barnes. A lucid journey into what it’s like to have a mental breakdown. It’s vivid and sometimes terrifying. You will think about it for a long, long time afterwards. 

Another work of sometimes funny but often harrowing historical fiction, Nothing Good Happens in Wazirabad on Wednesday by Jamaluddin Aram takes us inside the aftermath of the Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. 

When first described, Anecdotes by Kathryn Mockler doesn’t sound like it would work, but these rapid-fire vignettes create entire worlds and drama with speed, ease, and a trippy dexterity. Lots of fun and unlike anything else you’ll read this summer. 

Two from the Biblioasis Field Notes series are great explorations of the social landscape we live in today: On Community by Casey Plett parses what it means when we use that word, and On Class by Deborah Dundas digs into the thing that underpins everything that we don’t want to talk about. 

A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart is a wickedly fun and urbane twist on a whodunit tale. You’ll want to sneak a cigarette while reading too. 

Blaise Ndala

Blaise Ndala’s The War You Don’t Hate was translated by Dimitri Nasrallah and published by Vehicule Press in April 2024. 


The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman (HarperCollins Canada, 2018) is a thought-provoking book that helps us better understand what the Duplessis orphans were like, how the victims and their families lived through this tragedy, and above all, how it was possible in 1950s Quebec. 

Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah (Véhicule Press, 2022) is a sensitive book about the challenges of immigration and the roundabout ways in which new arrivals can tame the new country — in Quebec specifically — and discover its secrets: its hidden wounds, its lost hopes, its disillusions and the dreams that, despite everything, it allows anyone who shows resilience. 

The Most Secret Memory of Men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Simon & Schuster Canada, 2023) is a brilliant and gripping investigation into the life of a mysterious black author who disappeared without a trace by the first writer from sub-Saharan Africa to be awarded France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt. I’ve read it three times now, with the kind of never-ending joy that comes from the best reading experiences.

Antanas Sileika

Antanas Sileika’sThe Death of Tony: On Belonging in Two Worlds was published by Stonehewer Books in March 2024. 


Don Gillmor’s Breaking and Entering (Biblioasis) is a sardonic romp about a betrayed woman who learns to pick locks and finds a few surprises inside empty houses. Speaking of surprises, Elizabeth Ruth’s Semi-Detached (Cormorant Books) feels like a novel about real estate until the past opens with ghostly characters. Lesley Krueger’s Far Creek Road (ECW Press) looks at a Vancouver suburb in the sixties, a place where many secrets lurk beneath the placid surface. Lynne Kutsukake’sThe Art of Vanishing (Penguin Random House) is just about to come out as I write these words, and I can’t wait to get at this novel about art and friendships. And let me add one American whose work I have come late to — bestseller Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle (Doubleday) is a Balzacian novel of everyday life in Harlem in the early sixties, with more than a little crime thrown in to quicken the reader’s pulse

Vikki VanSickle

Vikki VanSickle’s The Lightning Circle was illustrated by Laura K. Watson and published by ‎Tundra Books in March 2024.


Lockjaw by Matteo L. Cerilli has all the hallmarks of a summer read: set in a claustrophobic small town full of gossip and rumours, potential monsters, and lots of secrets, this YA novel will satisfy teen and nostalgic adult readers of horror and mystery. 

The Phoenix Crown by Janie Chang and Kate Quinn is a deeply satisfying piece of historical fiction with not just one, but four heroines you will want to cheer for. From the opulence of the opera to the gritty reality of surviving a city on fire, this book covers a ton of ground and will keep you turning pages. 

I love having a nonfiction book I can dip in and out of, and Medicine Wheel for the Planet: A Journey towards Personal and Ecological Healing by Dr. Jennifer Grenz is a collection of gorgeous chapters that combine field observation, sacred stories, and personal connection to reimagine what environmental regeneration and healing looks like. It’s a perfect read for fans of Braiding Sweetgrass

My own novel The Lightning Circle is my love letter to summer camp, one of the most transformative experiences of my life. The novel takes the form of the camp diary and sketchbook of first-time counselor Nora, written in a series of free verse poems, featuring art by Laura K. Watson. 

Chuqiao Yang

Chuqiao Yang’s The Last to the Party was published by Goose Lane Editions in April 2024.


I have a ton of books to recommend, so it was quite hard to parse this list down. Many of the recommendations of the books I will be reading came from members of a book club I am in with great taste.  

Books I recommend: 

  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan 
  • The Good Women of Safe Harbour by Bobbi French 
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson 
  • Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson  
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith 
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki 

Books I will be reading:  

  • Islands of Decolonial Love: Stories and Songs by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 
  • Free Food For Millionaires by Min Jin Lee 
  • Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish  
  • Junie by Chelene Knight 
  • North Woods by Daniel Mason 
  • Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis