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Trillium Book Award Summer Reading List

On June 17, Ontario’s literary greats come together for an evening to celebrate and recognize 2015’s OMDC Trillium Book Award finalists. Using the nominees as a guide, we’ve crafted the dreamiest summer reading list that celebrates the immeasurable literary talent found within our province.

Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood

For dark and stormy summertime storms

There is very little that can match the drama caused by Mother Nature when she decides to rip open a lazy summer afternoon with a seismic storm, but if there is a woman who can rival the intensity of darkened skies and earthquaking booms, it’s literary goddess Margaret Atwood. Let’s hope there are nine gigantic storms this summer, one for each short story in this brilliant collection that will take you inside the twisted minds of some of the most complex Atwood characters to date.

Love Enough, Dionne Brand

For epic hangs in city parks

Grab a coffee and toss a blanket down at your favourite local park. Christie Pitts, Trinity Bellwoods, the main field at UofT; it doesn’t matter. If it’s in the heart of this city, it will pair extremely well with this beautiful novel that takes readers on a vibrant tour of Toronto through the complicated lives of six characters who live here. The book jacket says it all: “A gem of a novel between lovers, between friends, and for the places we live in.” Get outside your complicated love life, and dive deep into another’s.

How You Were Born, Kate Cayley

For lazy afternoons in your bikini with a strong martini

Bizarre and dazzling short stories to colour a lazy afternoon. “With elegance and restraint, these narratives run the gamut from realistic to uncanny, from ordinary epiphanies to extremities of experience.” Shake up something tasty with a bite, and settle in for some soul searching and delicious daydreaming.

Broom Broom, Brecken Hancock

For your six-hour Greyhound bus trip 

Bizarre and dirty, like your late night road trip to Montreal. Hancock’s poems stick to you like a wad of a stranger’s gum that you accidentally finger while trying to get shut-eye on your rambling journey. His words are intimate and revolting, as dark poetry should be.

THOU, Aisha Sasha John

For stinky, sweaty streetcar rides, to and fro

To help you through the hottest, smelliest commutes, because John’s deadpan humour and unpretentious poetry, which respond to the ridiculousness minutia of modern day life, is as gritty and real as Toronto’s rush hour traffic.

Old Masters, James King

Get thee to a beach, be it Hanlan’s Point or outside of Petiwawa

With sand in your toes and a gentle wave washing over your ankle, fall away from your every day into the complex world of art dealing. Imaginative, beautiful and supremely clever, this page-turner will bring a symphony of colour to a dog day afternoon, and no doubt inspire a trip to the AGO.

The Back of The Turtle, Thomas King

An essential for your Algonquin Park camping trip

“Thomas King is in the business of pointing out the awkwardness of all the years of tortured history between native people and non-native people. It’s just been so wrong, so lacking in humanity and so tragic, that it seems the only way to enter it is through comedy…In The Back of the Turtle and all his fiction, King asks us to relax and enjoy ourselves.” – The Globe and Mail. Is there a better book to read in our largest provincial park, named after the Algonquin tribes, which inhabited the land for hundreds of years before the first European settlers? Probably not. Let the novel bleed over the landscape, let the history live strongly in the woods.

Upghost River, Edmund Metatawabin

For serious meditative thought, lakeside

Who was it that declared summertime reading was devoted to the light and breezy? What a silly myth. Just because we spend a lot of time in our bathers, sipping lemonade, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spend time tackling tougher subjects. Heart-wrenching, poignant, and above all important, Metatawabin’s Upghost River is a powerful memoir that gives a personal account of a residential school survivor – a horrific part of recent Canadian history that demands our attention.

House of Dreams, Deanna Young

For sticky lazy popsicle-licking afternoons 

When was the last time you opened a book of poetry, letting each word slowly drip off your tongue, savouring the rhythm of language? Keep House of Dreams in your everyday tote, and whip it out when you are alone on a park bench with a soft ice cream, or when you’re at the laundromat on a hot July night. Young’s riveting collection will bring weight and romance to precious summer moments. Hold them in the air, feel the heat, and savour each bead of sweat and late night warm breeze.

Join us on Tuesday, June 16th at the Toronto Reference Library for the Trillium Book Awards Author Readings and Reception. This is a free event, open to the public. We’re super excited and think you should be too!!

The Trillium Book Awards will be announced on June 17th. For a full list of all the nominees, as well as book descriptions, go here.

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