Literary Love & Heartbreak: 6 To-Reads

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Sometimes a little literary heartbreak makes for the most enthralling read.


Start with the first lady of Irish literature, Edna O’Brien, 85, whose The Little Red Chairs – her first novel in 10 years – is propelled by an Irish villager’s obsession with a stranger in town who turns out to be a wanted war criminal. Isn’t that always the way?

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Meanwhile, Man Booker winner Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday charts the love affair and resulting emotional journey of a 1920s-era house servant.

The non-fiction slate begins with award-winning Canadian humorist William Thomas, who delves into The Legend of Zippy Chippy, one of the losing-est racehorses ever.

Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing is a final collection of literary wisdom from the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Canadian scribe.

In My Secret Mother, Phyllis Whitsell, a nurse, recounts the incredible story of her search for her birth mother. When she finally tracks her down, she finds her suffering from dementia. Whitsell, then, becomes her caregiver.

And one of the most poignant reflections on life and mortality comes courtesy of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, who passed away in 2015 from cancer at age 37.

His posthumous memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, is a sobering, literary and enlightening examination of living life when it’s unclear how many days remain – in reality, a valuable lesson for all of us.