> Zed Book Club / What We’re Reading

Lou Reed poses for the cover session for his album Coney Island Baby, circa 1976, New York City. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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What We’re Reading

A biography of rock rebel Lou Reed as well as new fiction from Lauren Groff and Elaine Feeney are reviewed by Zed contributors / BY Zed Staff / November 3rd, 2023


While November’s fiction offerings are as plentiful as falling leaves, some amazing non-fiction titles have grabbed our attention,  including  a devastating look at the effect of climate change on the Earth’s flora and fauna, an investigation into the rise and fall of disgraced crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried and a dishy, celebrity-filled memoir of 50 years in the music business by Elton John’s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image.

1THE VASTER WILDS by Lauren Groff

Home Base: Gainesville, Florida

Author’s Take: “I don’t want to write about cellphones! I don’t want to write about Twitter. I would hate to write about Donald Trump in any form. Just thinking about him makes me sad. But I do want to talk about the urgencies of the now, and I think you can do that through historical fiction because history loops, and spirals. There are ways to, slantwise, talk about the great sources of heat and disaster happening now, through a historical lens.” 

Favourite line: “In the tall black wall of the palisade, through a slit too seeming thin for human passage, the girl climbed into the great and terrible wilderness.”

Review: Lauren Groff is one of the best writers at work today. Full stop, and I’ll brook no disagreement. 

From her sublime short stories, often published in The New Yorker to her four previous novels, including Arcadia, Matrix, and Fates and Furies (one of President Obama’s favourite books of 2015), Groff regularly displays both a fiery imagination and a fervent devotion to her craft. Her new book, The Vaster Wilds, doesn’t just continue Groff’s ascendency into the literary heights, but serves as an example of just how high she soars. That might seem a tad over-the-top, but I assure you, Groff really is THAT good.

The Vaster Wilds begins with a young girl escaping from a walled settlement and venturing, alone, into the wilderness. It’s the winter of 1609, and the settlement is in the Virginia colony of Jamestown. Historians have called that winter “the starving time” — the community’s water was brackish and undrinkable, crops had failed, disease was rampant, trade with Indigenous tribes was at a hostile stand-still, and the supply ships from England, which they heavily relied on, were long delayed. Of the 500 residents of Jamestown that fall, there were fewer than 100 survivors the following spring.

The Vaster Wilds is, on the surface, a survival story, as the girl (she is known by many names, and sometimes none) attempts to survive in the wilderness after fleeing the colony. Why she had to escape is a subtle mystery, which plays out, in the background, throughout the novel as she reckons with her past and the slim odds of her future. As a historical novel, it takes a unique look at the American experience in tightly focused miniature, while also being an examination of colonialism and an exploration of faith, both religious and secular. 

It is also the second book in a planned trilogy of connected novels, which Groff describes as “seeing from the outside about a thousand years of how we got to where we are now.” The first book, Matrix, was released in 2021, and was the fictionalized account of a 12th-century Catholic nun and visionary; the planned third book will take place roughly in our time. Of her plans, she says, “What I really want to do is talk about ideas of God, and the changeable ideas of God and how those ideas have sent us careening through the Anthropocene to the cusp of absolute catastrophic climate times at the moment, which is where we are right now.” 

While Groff works on that third volume, this is your opportunity to catch up on the first two books. And while you’re at it, you’ll probably want to explore the rest of her books, too. Time with Groff is time well-spent. — Robert Wiersema


2COSMIC SCHOLAR: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARRY SMITHby John Szwed

Home Base: Philadelphia, Pa.

Author’s Take: “Who was this man, this omnipresent and impactful but shadowy Village figure? How are we to understand the paradox of an artist whose life was almost completely outside the public’s view, who was always on the edge of calamity — if not death — and yet was so influential in so many ways?”

Favourite Line: “As Harry Everett Smith told it, he was born into a family of theosophists and Freemasons.” 

Review: We all have blind spots. Especially in this age of sophisticated algorithms and on-line echo chambers, where we’re often completely unaware of information and people outside of our chosen spheres. So I understand people’s confusion at my excitement about the publication of a biography about Harry Smith. “Harry who?” you might ask. Exactly.

Harry Smith is a combination of cypher and legend. As author John Szwed comments in the introduction to Cosmic Scholar: “As I’ve searched for Harry Smith among those who knew him, each has described a different person, depending on where and when they first met him, the interests they shared, or what they expected from him.” Before reading Szwed’s book, I knew Smith as the compiler of The Anthology of American Folk Music, a six-record set taken from his own collection of 78s, which were recorded between 1926 and 1933. The anthology — accompanied by collage-style liner notes, written and decorated by Smith — was released in 1952 to very little notice. Over time, though, it became one of the key inspirations for the folk movement of the ’50s and ’60s, influencing artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and, later, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and numerous others.

I didn’t know, though, that Smith was also a well-regarded anthropologist, a painter and filmmaker, and an expert in the occult. I also didn’t know he was basically homeless for much of his life, moving from borrowed apartment to flophouse to the street and back, time and again, often losing his work in the process. I also didn’t know he was almost always intoxicated, he was friends with Allen Ginsberg, and a teacher to Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.

In the absence of almost any verifiable biographical data, writer and anthropologist John Szwed has crafted a powerful and compelling biography of the gifted polymath, exploring his powerful creativity and ability to learn, while never shying from the darker aspects of his life. It’s a momentous achievement; a biography which reads like a novel, in places proving the aphorism that “truth is stranger than fiction.” 

Don’t let your blind spot stop you from reading one of the best books of the year, about one of the most fascinating characters of the 20th century. — RW


3LOU REED: KING OF NEW YORK by Will Hermes

Home Base: New York, N.Y.

Author’s Take: “As an artist, he was a ‘transformer,’ and everybody has their own version of who he was. What they want him to be, what aspect of his character they wanted to take in. I tried to show them all. I don’t know if they all morph into a single, intelligible human being. But maybe that is part of what was endlessly fascinating about him. He was all of these things simultaneously and they didn’t all necessarily add up.” 

Favourite Line: “Reed and Anderson stayed up all night that Saturday, talking and doing breathwork. When daybreak came, he asked to be helped to the porch. “Take me into the light,” Reed said — his final words, spoken on a Sunday morning.”

Review: When Lou Reed died in 2013, he left behind a staggering body of work, a long-held reputation for decadence and impatience, a succession of battered friendships and, perhaps most strangely, a touching and seemingly pure relationship with musician and artist Laurie Anderson. It was difficult to reconcile the seemingly disparate aspects of Reed as musician, writer, husband, and human being.

That difficulty seems to have fuelled long-time music writer Will Hermes, who, in his new book Lou Reed: King of New York, seeks to capture those contradictions without attempting to reconcile them. In the process, he has created an at-times breathtaking biography, which begins with an in-depth exploration of Reed’s troubled childhood. A smart kid who struggled to read, Reed also struggled with growing up queer (though he never called it that). He suffered a nervous breakdown in college and underwent Electroconvulsive Therapy (which has been referenced multiple times in his work), and then moved into the city, where he became part of the early ’60s downtown art scene and, eventually, a rock star. Hermes explores Reed’s difficult relationships with fellow travellers like David Bowie and Andy Warhol, as well as his bandmates in the Velvet Underground and his solo bands, but Reed’s most difficult relationship was likely that with himself. 

Hermes, whose previous work includes Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, a sprawling account of the music scene in New York in the 1970s (which includes classical and jazz, punk and hip-hop, and their cross-pollinations), weaves Reed into the New York tapestry, centering him as a seminal figure for more than three decades.

With Lou Reed: King of New York, Hermes has crafted neither a hagiography (Reed doesn’t need one; as he famously told two rock critics attending one of his shows, “F–k you. I don’t need you to tell me I’m good”) nor a hatchet job (Reed was often his own worst enemy and adeptat shooting himself in the foot). Instead, Hermes has created a powerful, multifaceted and utterly empathic exploration of an artist often at war with himself, who finally finds a sense of peace.  — RW


4PROPHETby Helen Macdonald and Sin Blache

Home Base: Suffolk, England and Donegal, Ireland

Author’s Take:It’s very different from my previous books, but shares many of their deepest themes: love, loss, hope, nationhood, and the ways we recruit the past for our own ends.” 

Favourite Line: “See, the main problem with the way Sasha’s life shook out is that she hadn’t really planned for this to happen. Truthfully, speaking from the heart and all that crap, she hadn’t really planned for a lot of stuff, but this took the cake.”

Review: English writer Helen Macdonald burst into public awareness, and onto the bestseller lists, with their 2014 memoir, H Is for Hawk, an elegiac account of training a goshawk in the wake of their father’s death. Beautiful and heartbreaking by turns, the book earned Macdonald the Costa Book of the Year Prize, among other awards, and positioned Macdonald as one of a new generation of nature writers.

For Macdonald fans, her new book, Prophet — co-written with American-transplant-to-Ireland, Sin Blache — may come as something of a shock. 

Rather than being rooted in the natural world, Prophet is a high-concept, almost madcap spree across genres, including science fiction, action thriller, espionage, queer romance, mystery and even westerns. It’s an odd book, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.

It revolves around the spread of a chemical called Prophet, which induces a state of nostalgic euphoria in people exposed to it, but eventually leads to catatonia. The chemical is uncontrollable, and soon begins to mutate, giving people the ability conjure items from their most loved memories (the scene where an American diner from the 1950s manifests near an English air force base is a tour de force of imagination).

Enter the odd couple assigned to figure it all out and, well, save the world: Adam, an American soldier with special skills, and Rao, a former British Intelligence officer who is also an addict with a gift for being able to detect truth and falsehood (except when it comes to Adam). 

Prophet is an intellectually challenging novel that indulges in the sort of high-stakes action usually found in B-movies. It’s a thrill-ride of a novel: to say you never know quite what to expect is a significant understatement. You have to read it to believe it.  — RW


5SCATTERSHOT: LIFE, MUSIC, ELTON, AND ME by Bernie Taupin

Home Base: Southern California

Author’s take: “I get asked, ‘Why write it now?’ Which seems ridiculous. I’m certainly not going to write it at the start of my career, or halfway through it. I’m 73 years old so it seems like the most sensible time to put down in words … that sounds like a song! 

Favourite lines: On inhaling the wildly potent weed smoked by Bob Marley after a Wailers gig in L.A. in the 1970s: “I’ve been pretty stoned at several points in my life. In fact, I once ingested half a block of opium on a night flight from New York to Barbados and spent two days in the airport because I had no idea where I was. This wasn’t like that. This was like when you hear about those people who are pronounced dead but they’re really still alive and inside they’re screaming and praying for a tear to appear in order to save them from a premature burial.”

Review: Bernie Taupin may be the ultimate fantasy dinner party guest. He’d come armed with enough hilariously hair-raising, true-life stories to keep jaws on the floor from canapés to cognac. Over the course of a highly successful, globe-spanning, 50-year career, Elton John’s longtime lyricist met everybody — everybody — who was anybody from the freewheeling 1970s to the present day, and was largely lucid enough to remember what happened. In his memoir Scattershot, Taupin’s recollections include, but are not limited to: enjoying a lunch date with Cher in Beverly Hills; meeting Frank Sinatra backstage after an L.A. gig with his best mate Alice Cooper in tow; dining with Salvador Dalí in New York and receiving and then losing an original sketch; helping Kris Kristofferson keep a drunken John Prine upright during a UK TV appearance; splitting his trousers while bowing to Princess Margaret at a royal event; thrice introducing an acid-addled Brian Wilson to John Lennon at an L.A. house party; and openly mocking Serge Gainsbourg at famous Paris nightclub Régine’s. (“That a stunning woman like Jane Birkin could crawl into bed at night with a man who looked like he’d been dipped in Crisco and rolled in pubic hair still makes me shudder to this day.”)

Taupin’s prose may be a smidge overwrought and he’s prone to clichés, but that’s a fair trade for such dazzling stories. Interestingly, he spends scant time describing his songwriting process, though readers do glean some choice insights: Marilyn Monroe was not the inspiration for Candle in the Wind (it was Montgomery Clift, who co-starred with Monroe in John Huston’s The Misfits from 1961), and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was essentially a drunken lark. He also charts his and John’s steady rise to the very pinnacle of the rock and roll world, as well as the latter’s crushing struggles with drugs and his sexual identity. For the most part though, Scattershot is a freewheeling ride through a kaleidoscopic life many aspire to, but few actually enjoy. Taupin certainly had a ball. — Kim Hughes 


6GOING INFINITE: THE RISE AND FALL OF A NEW TYCOON by Michael Lewis

Home Base: Berkeley, Calif.

Author’s take: “It’s been marvellous to me to watch people who know a fraction of what I know, who are willing to be much more certain than I am about what happened. I’ve earned my doubt. You haven’t yet earned your certainty.”

Favourite lines: “The whole thing was odd: these people joined together by their fear of trust erected a parallel financial system that required more trust from its users than did the traditional financial system. Outside the law, and often hostile to it, they discovered many ways to run afoul of it. Crypto exchanges routinely misplaced or lost their customers’ money. Crypto exchanges routinely faked trading data to make it seem as though far more trading had occurred on them than actually had. Crypto exchanges fell prey to hackers, or to random rogue traders who gamed the exchanges’ risk management.” 

Review: Michael Lewis is a terrific storyteller, as his many bestsellers (2003’s Moneyball, 2009’s The Blind Side and 2011’s The Big Short) illustrate. So one approaches Going Infinite with high expectations, especially since its subject, the disgraced crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried, is currently under a microscope (his trial for fraud began in New York on Oct. 3, the same day the book was released). 

Surely, Lewis’ in-depth profile of this oddball raised by two Stanford University law professors will contain insights into how he allegedly bilked billions from investors through FTX (one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges), as well as Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund that he built with a team of like-minded eggheads, several of whom have already pleaded guilty to fraud and are testifying against their former boss? 

Alas, Lewis’ triumph here, if we can call it that, is documenting how the apparently insufferable Bankman-Fried convinced anyone to do anything, including the author, who shadowed him in multiple locations while interviewing those in his orbit. Throughout the book, I wondered if Bankman-Fried was a savant or just a jerk, given passages detailing his broken promises, colossal managerial and relationship missteps. Bankman-Fried claimed he wanted to raise billions trading crypto “for effective altruistic causes,” but Lewis does not – maybe cannot – reconcile that high-mindedness (which he seems to believe is true) with the man described by prosecutors as perpetuating the largest financial fraud in recent history. (Bankman-Fried was found guilty on seven charges Nov. 3) . On the plus side, reading the book made it easier to follow the action as the white-knuckle trial proceeded, and the mind-bending FTX org chart reprinted on the dust jacket was a huge help. Once again, truth really is stranger than fiction. — KH


7THE END OF EDEN: WILD NATURE IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE BREAKDOWNby Adam Welz

Home Base: Cape Town, South Africa

Favourite lines: “Intensity matters. A Category 5 hurricane is a completely different thing from a Category 2 storm, ecologically speaking. Because oceans are warming and creating more water vapor, and warmer air can hold more water vapor than cooler air, we can now expect Category 5 hurricanes to rage across the Earth more often than before.”

Review: The word “grim” hangs over every page of The End of Eden, South African author and environmental journalist Adam Welz’s chilling exploration of the impacts of climate change on wild animals and global habitats. As the author tallies how our use of fossil fuels and myriad other bad behaviours have triggered apocalyptic fires, hurricanes, droughts and floods, he proves unequivocally that humans have caused these disasters. And, that flora and fauna — from koala bears to Joshua trees to the above-mentioned shorebirds — are paying a grave price for our recklessness. 

That may not be news, but Welz breaks our insidiousness down to a molecular level, illustrating the domino effect of rapidly changing weather patterns on animals and the environments that sustain them, and us. Yet, while humans are the cause of this mess, Welz focuses on non-human lifeforms struggling to cope in the wild, where outcomes are measured in extinctions, scrambled migratory patterns, ruined waterways and dead trees. After a major February 2020 wildfire in Australia, for instance, the author was fundamentally changed by what he saw.

“A dense mass of thousands, millions, of dead trees filled the landscape from horizon to horizon. The forest was the brown of dead wood and the black of charcoal. I had never seen a place so thoroughly and extensively burned.” I’ll spare you the awful fate of the “huge number of animals including deer and Eastern Gray Kangaroos” that perished in another brutal Australian wildfire chronicled elsewhere in the book. 

The End of Eden is more than urgent. It’s a devastating and yes, grim, battle cry for sweeping change on a global level. It is supported by facts gathered through eyewitness reporting from Africa to the United States and beyond, though notably, Welz doesn’t take on meat production, perhaps because the devastating scale of its environmental impacts and ethics demand its own book. Still, readers of The End of Eden will be shattered and humbled, but hopefully galvanized into action. — KH


8HOW TO BUILD A BOAT by Elaine Feeney

Home Base: Athenry, Ireland

Author’s Take: “I often think of this book like a glass lake with currents underneath it; you can enter this novel at a very simplistic level, which is what I wanted, you can go along with the story, but then there’s layers of undercurrents. But also the idea of building the currach, it became, in retrospect, as much about making something beautiful in a really oppressive dark space. It’s like the opposite of the Trojan horse. They’re making it on the inside, and they need to get it out, and free it. They are building something beautiful inside the institution.”

Favourite Line: “The organ — an instrument tasked with getting souls into heaven by forcing air through the fipple — started up like a whale echolocation, and startled Tess, who sat up straight in the varnished pew. Churches made her feel inadequate, but this one also made her feel unwelcome.”

Review: Poet and novelist Elaine Feeney says she isn’t a fan of linear fiction narratives where everyone’s issues are neatly resolved by book’s end, and that is certainly true of How to Build a Boat. Set in the fictional town of Emory, Ireland, the story revolves around Jamie O’Neill, a neurodiverse 13-year-old entering his first year at Christ’s College, an all-boys Catholic secondary school. Jamie loves Edgar Allan Poe, rivers, the curvature of objects and the late Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician and the first woman to win the Fields Medal (the Oscars of mathematics). He lives with his father Eoin, but the only thing he knows of his mother Noelle — who died giving birth to him — is a two-minute video clip of her at a swimming competition. Jamie’s plan is to build a perpetual motion machine that — according to his own unique calculations — will finally allow him to be closer to her. 

At school he forms a deep connection with Tess Mahon, a special needs teacher who veers between quiet rage at her husband and saint-like patience with Jamie, as well as Tadhg Foley, the woodworking teacher who first proposes building the boat that will eventually absorb the lives of the book’s main characters. Both reject the school’s blind conformism and, with Tess, the misogyny that runs deep into the school’s teachings and in Irish society at large. “The College was everything Tess Mahon despised about education; closest to the church, farthest from god,” writes Feeney.

All three bump up against the institutional oppression governing their lives, and constantly question the natural order of things, but seem powerless to do anything about it.

Feeney, who counts Edna O’Brien, John Prine, Lucia Berlin and James Joyce among her influences, says she started writing as a way to control a world that she couldn’t control, and it seems the characters in How to Build a Boat grapple with the same. At its core, she says the book is about loneliness and isolation and asks whether we can ever really know one another. As a reader, I felt a deep simpatico with their struggles, but I had a special fondness for Jamie. Feeney — who spent five years writing the novel — says it took her a long time to find Jamie’s voice, but the time spent inside his head was the most enjoyable. His unfiltered and brutally honest naivete was a treat, even when he was angry and confused, and eschewing the kind of sentimentality adults around him kept trying to foist on him. 

The author’s skill at laying bare her characters’ anxieties gave this book an intimacy I wasn’t expecting, while at the same time taking a sharp look at issues of class and the restrictive roles placed on men and women. I can’t wait to read Feeney’s next novel, but in the meantime, I will busy myself with reading As You Were, her first. — Kisha Ferguson

 


THE SCROLL

Camilla Leads Miniature Book Initiative to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the Queen’s Dolls’ HouseThe miniature book collection includes handwritten tomes by Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and other well-known authors


2024 Giller Prize: Noah Richler, Kevin Chong and Molly Johnson Among Jury MembersAuthor Noah Richler is chairing the jury for this year's Giller Prize, an award's body his father literary icon Mordecai Richler helped launch in 1994.


Queen Camilla to Offer Weekly Reading Recommendations in New Queen’s Reading Room PodcastThe Queen's Reading Room Podcast will feature Her Majesty's book picks as well as literary discussions with authors and celebrities every week.


2023 Booker Prize: Irish Writer Paul Lynch Wins For Dystopian ‘Prophet Song’Canadian Booker Prize jury chair Esi Edugyan called the novel a "a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave."


Sarah Bernstein’s ‘Study for Obedience’ Wins 2023 Scotiabank Giller PrizeThe author, who gave birth to a daughter 10 days ago, accepted the award remotely from her home in the Scottish Highlands


Governor General’s Literary Awards: Anuja Varghese’s ‘Chrysalis’ Among This Year’s WinnersEach of the 14 writers, illustrators and translators will receive a prize of $25,000


Giller Prize Winner Suzette Mayr Among Finalists Shortlisted for 2023 Governor General’s Literary AwardsThe 14 winners, who will each receive a prize of $25,000, will be announced Nov. 8


Five Authors Shortlisted for This Year’s $100,000 Scotiabank Giller PrizeDionne Irving and Kevin Chong are among the finalists who "probe what it means to be human, to survive, and to be who we are"


Norway’s Jon Fosse Wins Nobel Literature Prize for Giving “Voice to the Unsayable”The author's work has been translated into more than 40 languages, and there have been more than 1,000 different productions of his plays.


Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist Recognizes 12 Authors Who Demonstrate “the Power of Human Imagination”The 2023 longlist includes the prize's 2005 winner David Bergen and debut novelist Deborah Willis. 


Duke and Duchess of Sussex Buy Film Rights to Canadian Author Carley Fortune’s ‘Meet Me at the Lake’Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have purchased the movie rights to the bestselling romantic novel, which was published in May this year.


Booker Prize Longlist ‘Defined by its Freshness’ as Nominees RevealedEsi Edugyan, chair of the 2023 judges, said each of the 13 novels "cast new light on what it means to exist in our time."


Barack Obama Releases His 2023 Summer Reading ListThe list includes the latest novel by Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton.


David Suzuki Takes Inspiration From His Own Grandchildren for New Kid’s Book ‘Bompa’s Insect Expedition’The book features Suzuki and two of his grandchildren exploring the insect population in their own backyard.


Milan Kundera, Author of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, Dies at 94Kundera won global accolades for the way he depicted themes and characters that floated between the mundane reality of everyday life and the lofty world of ideas.


Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Dark Genius of American Literature, Dead at 89McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2006 novel 'The Road.'


Remembering the Life and Loves of Literary Bad Boy Martin AmisThe legendary British author has died at 73. His absence will be keenly felt, but Amis leaves behind a book shelf’s worth of novels, including 'London Fields', 'Money' and 'Success', filled with shambolic anti-heroes raising a finger at society. 


Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to Publish Two Books Related to Mental Health and Wellness With Penguin Random House CanadaThe upcoming releases include a wellness book for adults and a picture book for children, which will roll out over the next two years.


Queen Camilla Celebrated Her Love of Books by Having Some Embroidered on Her Coronation GownThe Queen's coronation gown also featured tributes to her children, grandchildren and rescue dogs embroidered into it.


Better Late Than Never: Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Unpublished Novel Set for Release in 2024'En Agosto Nos Vemos' or 'We'll See Each Other in August' was deemed by the late author's family to be too important to stay hidden


End of an Era: Eleanor Wachtel leaves CBC Radio’s ‘Writers & Company’ After More Than Three Decades on the AirAfter a career interviewing what she describes as the "finest minds in the world," the long-time radio host says she's ready to begin a new chapter.


Canadian Independent Bookstore Day Features Deals, Contests and ReadingsOn Saturday, every book purchased at an indie store qualifies you to enter the Book Lovers Contest, with a chance to win gift cards worth up to $1,000


Translation Project Will Bring Literature From the South Asian Continent to English-Speaking AudiencesThe SALT project aims to translate and publish 40 works by authors from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka


The Book Thief: An Italian Man’s Guilty Plea Ends a Caper That Puzzled the Literary World for YearsFilippo Bernardini’s elaborate phishing scam netted 1,000 unpublished manuscripts by prominent authors including Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan


The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Is Honoured with an American StampThe Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience


Five Canadian Writers Make the Long List for the Inaugural Carol Shields Prize for FictionThe US$150,000 English-language literary award for female and nonbinary writers redresses the inequality of women in the publishing world


The Furry Green Grump is Back in a Sequel to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”Dr. Seuss Enterprises will publish “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” in September


Chris Hadfield to Publish a Sequel to His Blockbuster Debut, “The Apollo Murders,” on Oct. 10"The Defector” brings the Cold War intrigue from space to Earth as the Soviets and Americans race to develop fighter jets


Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Continues to Break Worldwide RecordsThe book also seems to have put a dent in the popularity of members of the Royal Family — including the Prince and Princess of Wales.


Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks U.K. Sales Record On First Day of ReleaseThe publisher of the new memoir, 'Spare", says it had sold 400,000 copies so far across hardback, e-book and audio formats.


Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan


Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world


Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."


Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."


Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.


Bob Dylan Releases ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song,’ a Book of Essays Dissecting 66 Influential SongsIn his new book, Bob Dylan offers up both critique and historical insight into various musical recordings of the last century by a variety of popular artists.


Prince Harry’s Memoir ‘Spare’ Will Be Published in January 2023The long-awaited memoir will tell with "raw unflinching honesty" Prince Harry's journey from "trauma to healing", his publisher said on Thursday.


Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.


Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.


New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.


French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."


Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.


Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'


Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.


Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.


Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature


Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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